Find out how to Sharpen an Axe


Many individuals have heard the story about two woodcutters chopping timber within the forest. One chops and chops and chops with out stopping, whereas the opposite takes breaks steadily, however nonetheless manages to cut extra wooden. That’s as a result of whereas the second woodcutter was “on break” he was sharpening his axe. Now, plenty of company varieties use this story to attempt to train one thing about productiveness, or no matter, however the one actual takeaway is {that a} sharp axe interprets to much less onerous work. 

A pointy axe may have much less glancing blows, reduce deeper, and reduce sooner. I’m not involved in banging a uninteresting hunk of metallic right into a tree for quarter-hour once I might get it accomplished with a pointy axe in lower than 5. So, sharp axe good, uninteresting axe unhealthy. However how do you get your axe good and sharp and able to do some actual work? Consider it or not, it’s not that onerous, and it doesn’t require costly instruments. Right here’s a step-by-step information on how one can sharpen an axe. 

What You Have to Sharpen an Axe

For this technique, you actually solely want two instruments. A flat file, and a “puck” model sharpening stone. The file must be a Mill Bastard file. These are generally accessible at any ironmongery shop, and when you get your method appropriate, you don’t really want a puck afterward. An 8” or greater file makes this simpler, however you will get the job accomplished with a smaller 4” or 6” file. I sharpened my axe for this tutorial with a flat file for leveling chainsaw information enamel, simply to point out that it may be accomplished with a small file. (Plus my greater file is getting uninteresting and wishes changing). 

After you’re accomplished with the file, you may transfer on to actually honing and sharpening the sting with a puck-style sharpening stone. I take advantage of stones from Straight Grain Provide as a result of they’re twin grit, and the rubber band makes for a great grip. The stones are available quite a lot of grits, and can be utilized alone with out a file when you like. I take advantage of each as a result of the file removes injury sooner, and the pucks give a finer edge with the upper grits. For these stones, I maintain a bowl of water and an previous toothbrush useful. Letting them sit in water earlier than sharpening helps to maintain them from getting clogged up with metallic particles. A fast scrub with the toothbrush and a few water helps maintain them clear and slicing correctly and it extends their efficient life. 

In case you have a vise, that may be useful if there may be injury that must be sharpened out, however it’s not crucial. In case you don’t have a vise, having an extended file is rather more essential. Extra on that later. The very last thing you will have is a uninteresting axe. I used my “beater” axe for this story. It’s been used as a wedge and it’s been overwhelmed and deformed. It has smashed greater than a pair rocks whereas taking out roots. It had some severe injury, so I assumed it will be helpful to point out how efficient the file is. As a ultimate notice, I like to recommend carrying a pair of labor gloves for this as a result of your palms and fingertips will likely be very near the sting. 

Step 1: Profile the sting and take again the cheek

sharpen an axe
Use a file to set your edge and work out injury.

Drew Conover

First, you’ll take your file and set your edge angle and skinny out the cheek of the axe. The cheek is the portion of the blade simply behind the sting. You may skinny this out if you need the axe to cut deeper into the wooden. If it’s a must to deliver the sting again for vital injury, it’s best to file the cheeks down a bit to maintain the slicing efficiency. Be sure you are sharpening the entire bevel, not only a tiny portion close to the apex of the sting. With an extended file, you may ball up an previous rag or t-shirt and put it on the axe head and relaxation the tip of the file on it as you make your cuts with the again of the file. Make the rag thick or thinner so you may match the angle of the bevel. The rag acts as a pivot level for the file and lets you maintain stress on the axe head so it gained’t transfer round. 

With a shorter file, this technique gained’t work, and a vise actually turns out to be useful. For wooden dealt with axes, rubber jaw protectors, rags, or leather-based can be utilized to guard the wooden within the vise. 

Pull your file throughout the sting from one finish of the blade to the opposite. These recordsdata don’t simply reduce with the file transferring from tip to deal with, they reduce laterally as nicely. You’ll really feel the file chunk into the fabric. Elevate the file and return and make one other lateral pull.

Make passes till all injury is eliminated, and you’re feeling a burr on all the edge. Flip it over and do the identical factor to the opposite facet. After you will have apexed the sting on either side, it’s best to have a reasonably sharp axe, and you’ll cease right here if you need. With only a file, you may obtain an incredible working edge. However, I like my stuff actually sharp, so I proceed on to the stones. 

Step 2: Refine the sting with puck stones 

sharpen an axe
Use puck stones to refine the sting.

Drew Conover

After getting eliminated the heavy injury and re-profiled the sting along with your file, you may refine the sting with progressively finer grit stones. In case you don’t have a file, you need to use a rough stone to profile the sting, however it is going to usually take extra time, particularly if there are some deeper chips or rolls within the edge. 

After your stones have soaked within the water a bit, “scrub” all the beveled edge with the puck utilizing small round motions to refine it. Maintain the puck along with your fingertips and maintain them away from the sting.  You will notice the scratch sample from the stone taking away the tooling marks from the file. 

Give your stone a dip within the water once in a while to maintain it clear. When you will have eliminated the marks from the file on the entire edge, repeat for the opposite facet. Then, get the subsequent grit stone, and repeat this course of on all sides. Scrub till the scratch sample from the earlier grit stone is gone. I normally use the medium grit after the file work and progress to a nice grit. Straight Grain Provide makes two-sided stones in 80/220 grit, 220/400 grit, and 220/600 grit. I take advantage of the 220 grit after which progress to my 400 grit facet. I’ve used the 80 grit facet for injury earlier than, and it’ll take away materials pretty shortly, however I nonetheless desire a file for preliminary shaping. After you will have accomplished either side with medium and nice grit, your axe must be able to go, and will likely be taking over a pleasant shiny, considerably polished look. In case you have a leather-based strop, you may make a couple of passes on that simply to take away any small burr which may stay and additional polish and refine the sting, however the bur will likely be gone on the primary chop or two anyway. I strop mine as a result of I’ve one, and I like the sting to be shiny after I’m accomplished. If you need the most effective edge attainable, take your time with these steps. It will likely be price it while you begin chopping. 

Step 3: Keep your edge

puck stones for sharpening
Now that your axe is sharp, you may simply maintain it that approach with upkeep.

Drew Conover

When you profile and take away injury on an axe, sustaining that sharp edge shouldn’t take a lot effort in any respect. After every use, take a minute or so and hone all sides along with your best grit puck stone earlier than you set the axe away, and you’ll usually be capable of go a very long time earlier than it’s a must to sharpen it once more. Now, when you occur to hit a rock or nail or one thing else that damages the sting past small nicks, then you’ll have to undergo the entire course of once more. Slightly upkeep after every use will maintain your axe slicing nicely between sharpening, and delay the lifetime of the axe head. In case you preserve it with a file each time, you’ll take away extra materials than wanted and put on out the little bit of the axe sooner. An oz. of prevention is best than a pound of treatment. 

Learn Subsequent: Greatest Tenting Axes, Examined and Reviewed

Ideas for Sharpening an Axe

  • Put on gloves. Whenever you’re submitting or scrubbing with the puck, your fingertips and knuckles are very near the sting. Carrying some respectable work gloves might prevent from a severe reduce. Ask me how I do know. 
  • Get a great grip. The Straight Grain Pucks have a rubber band within the groove between the grits that makes a wonderful indexing level to your fingers and thumb. If you’re at all times on the band, you gained’t be on the blade. Most puck-style stones may have a groove to maintain your fingers in, but when they don’t, simply be aware of the place your fingertips are as a result of I’m guessing you wish to maintain them. 
  • Preserve your stones clear. Whenever you end along with your puck stones, a vigorous scrub with an previous toothbrush in your bowl of water will take away a lot of the metallic within the pores and maintain your stones working correctly and provides them longer helpful life. After you give them a fast clear, set them in a spot the place they’ll dry out. 
  • Make a constant edge. If you find yourself submitting with the rag or t-shirt as a pivot, keep watch over the sting and regulate the rag as wanted. They have a tendency to flatten out with stress and repeated passes. You’ll in all probability discover it essential to refold or re-wad the fabric once in a while to maintain a constant angle. 
  • Don’t noticed along with your file. When submitting, do not forget that recordsdata aren’t purported to be “sawed” backwards and forwards. They may solely reduce materials within the path the enamel face. Sawing a file with downward stress in each instructions can prematurely uninteresting the file. Additionally, it’s normally helpful to brush the fabric out of the file enamel periodically to maintain them from clogging up and slicing slower. A number of faucets in your workbench also can knock the shavings out of the enamel and achieve the identical objective. Don’t slam the file, just a few faucets on wooden. Recordsdata are very onerous and considerably brittle and can snap when you hit them too onerous on metallic or concrete or attempt to pry with them. 

Ultimate Ideas on Find out how to Sharpen an Axe

how to sharpen an axe
Earlier than sharpening (high) and after sharpening (backside).

Drew Conover

Slightly time spent studying how one can sharpen an axe pays dividends when it comes time for chopping. For me, few issues are as irritating as a instrument not performing the way in which it’s purported to. The factor is, you may not assume your axe is even uninteresting, however when you take the time to sharpen it, you’ll be amazed on the distinction in slicing efficiency. Make investments just a little in sharpening and save a bunch of onerous work down the highway. Preserve your axes sharp. 

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