Study Find out how to Sharpen an Axe

One of many sweetest sounds (and emotions) within the outdoor is when a sharpened axe splits cleanly by way of the wooden you might be reducing with it. Studying the best way to sharpen an axe is vital to protected and environment friendly work, whether or not you might be reducing wooden for the hearth or limbing bushes for habitat administration.

The easiest way to sharpen an axe is the best way you’re feeling snug doing it. Although there are a number of methods to get an axe sharp, a number of underlying ideas are useful. For those who perceive these ideas and make them your personal with ample follow, you should have a extremely efficient instrument to satisfy your wants.

Find out how to Sharpen an Axe with the Proper Stuff

A couple of instruments will make your work simple and allow you to to successfully sharpen an axe:  

Suitable Work Gloves: Accidents occur, and gloves might help within the occasion there’s a shock slip.

Bastard File: It is a file nearer to coarse than fantastic. You will want it to take away ample metal when wanted.

Steel Wool or Scrubbing Pad: On uncared for axes, you should utilize these to take away gentle rust earlier than sharpening.

Coarse Grit Sandpaper: Used to take away cussed rust.

Dual-Grit Sharpening Puck: This could go in every single place your axe goes as a result of it’s simple to make use of within the subject or at residence on the workbench.

Honing Strop and Compound: A leather-based strop is a should for that final little bit of fine-tuning. 

Tools needed to sharpen an Axe, Field & Stream
The writer’s assortment of axe sharpening instruments. Craig Caudill
Craig Caudill

Getting Began

When you assemble these instruments, it’s time for axe sharpening. I first wish to deal with an axe that’s usually getting used and never one which has been uncared for. We are going to contemplate a uncared for axe later.

There are three widespread causes to sharpen an axe. I’m going to cowl every on this article.

  1. Area expedient touch-up
  2. Common Upkeep
  3. Edge and face regrinding

Area Expedient Contact-Up

The easiest way to sharpen an axe within the subject is to make use of a sharpening puck or stone. The one seen beneath is a perfect sharpening instrument. It’s simple to grip and has a rough facet for eradicating numerous metal and a medium-grit facet for ending your leading edge. You’ll solely want the medium-grit facet when an axe is appropriately used within the subject. Medium grit grinding is used when an axe has develop into uninteresting after utilizing it for the duties for which it was designed. It’s best to anticipate to do that usually within the subject when utilizing an axe. 

Sharpening an axe with a sharpening puck
Utilizing a sharpening puck on the beveled edge. Craig Caudill
Craig Caudill

Use the puck to take away the sharpening bevel on the axe. I favor to make use of round strokes on the bevel to take away the metal extra uniformly alongside that edge. To sharpen the beveled edge evenly, use the identical variety of strokes on one facet as the opposite. This isn’t simple to do at occasions, so there’s a simple strategy to visualize the fabric that must be eliminated.

Straightforward to See

Using a permanent marker to mark an axe's beveled edge
This everlasting marker trick makes it simpler to visualise the metal you might be eradicating. Craig Caudill
Craig Caudill

Use a everlasting marker to discolor the blade’s beveled edge (see photograph). Shade in as a lot of the beveled edge as doable. You’ll discover the coloring being eliminated as you begin utilizing your stone or puck to get a superb axe edge. This makes it a lot simpler to see the metal that has been eliminated.

Begin by working the outermost fringe of the reducing bevel. After getting that carried out with the coarse-grit facet of the stone, then use the medium coarse grit to refine the leading edge. You probably have a leather-based belt or an precise strop, a number of strokes on leather-based will fine-tune it even additional. Leather-based serves to shine the steel and take away any portion of an enduring burr. This makes for a leading edge that’s each crisp and sharp. 

These steps will care for your wants and get you again to work for field-expedient sharpening. 

Common Upkeep

Regardless of how properly and protected you employ your axe, you’ll ultimately hit belongings you shouldn’t. You may discover a piece of previous barbed wire in a tree. Chances are you’ll minimize by way of a log and hit a rock. That is to be anticipated every now and then and can trigger nicks on the reducing fringe of the blade. Common upkeep will assist care for these issues and get you again to work. 

If you see any nicks, you will have to file down the leading edge till they’re not current. You probably have by no means carried out this, you will see that it exhausting to do it the primary time. However doing so will make the leading edge extra uniform present a clean curved transition from the higher nook of the leading edge (known as the toe) all the way down to the decrease nook (known as the heel).

File Time

A bastard file is the very best instrument for this job. It takes out ample quantities of metal on every stroke. Most information aren’t designed for use in a back-and-forth movement for materials elimination. To make use of your file accurately, push it to take off the steel, then reset and do it once more. Take time to faucet the file and take away captured metal from its grooves usually. In any other case, the file will probably be choked with particles and gained’t work effectively.

Using a bastard file to sharpen an axe
A bastard file will take away sufficient metal to file nicks out of your axe blade. Craig Caudill
Craig Caudill

When you get the leading edge from the toe to heel clean, begin the sharpening of the bevel edge with the file as properly. There will probably be loads of metal to take away right here, and the file will make brief work of it when carried out accurately. All the time put your file on the identical angle because the grind on the axe. Every axe has a beveled edge that’s particular to that axe. There is no such thing as a set quantity for all axes. When you get a really feel for putting the file on the sting, it’s simple to search out it time and time once more for correct sharpening. 

When you get the bevel edge near the place you want it, it’s time to use your puck and leather-based once more. Use the identical variety of strokes on both sides with the coarse grit till it will get near sharp. Then use the medium grit. Then on to the strop. Observe these steps so as and perceive you’ll want ample persistence to take your time and do it proper. After that, it’s simple to get your dinged-up axe again in motion.    


If you wish to take a really uncared for axe to a usable one, it would take numerous sweat fairness. Or you should utilize an axe grinder to shorten the quantity of labor. Nonetheless, there’s a vital likelihood that you may negatively have an effect on the metal’s mood if you happen to misuse the grinder on the axe.

When an axe head is constructed from sizzling metal, it’s typically quenched in an answer that doesn’t enable the carbon to flee. This retains all of the atoms packed in tightly, making the axe head very exhausting. The facet impact of hardening the metal is that it’s typically brittle. To fight this, it will get tempered. Tempering is the method of elevating the temperature of the metal slowly to scale back the hardness a bit and remove a lot of the brittleness.

When putting an axe on the grinder, you’ll be able to warmth the metal sufficient to destroy the mood and make the pinnacle brittle once more. You should be vigilant to not go away it on the grinder so lengthy that the metal begins to alter shade, which signifies that the mood has been compromised. Due to this fact, solely use a grinder when you have an axe head that has been so uncared for that it’s pitted from rust. However even then, it’s nonetheless finest to make use of a bastard file and take away the fabric slowly to keep away from any likelihood of a critical change in temperature that might find yourself altering the molecular construction of the metal. 


You’ll be able to alternatively use metal wool, coarse grit sandpaper, or a scrubbing pad to take away floor rust if it’s not pitted. Be at liberty to work on the axe vigorously to take away the rust. You’ll discover that it might make scratches on the axe head as you might be doing this. As soon as the rust is eliminated, use ever finer grit merchandise to work the scratches out to have a clean floor on the axe. It could appear insignificant, however the extra polished an axe is, the higher it would minimize by way of wooden. Don’t over-concern your self with the sting when doing this. When you take away all of the rust on the uncared for axe, you’ll be able to then resharpen by following the procedures above to get the axe edge again to the place it must be. 

Find out how to Protect Your Axe

The final piece of the puzzle when studying the best way to sharpen an axe is to take time after use to scrub and protect it for subsequent use. This is a vital and neglected side of axe sharpening. I favor to sharpen and protect the metal and wooden after use, reasonably than earlier than the subsequent use. I would like that instrument to be within the toolbox able to go the subsequent go round. For those who comply with these suggestions, it’s a lot simpler to do every thing that I’ve mentioned beforehand.

Step one on this course of is to take away any strong particles with a rag, metal wool, or comparable. I typically do that by wiping it on my pants. As soon as that waste is eliminated, sharpen as described above. The final vital step is to rub some preservative (utilizing Nessmuk’s Haft and Head Dressing right here) onto each the pinnacle and the deal with. I favor one thing that has a mixture of linseed oil and beeswax. This enables me to guard each the pinnacle of the axe and the deal with with the identical product. Preserving the pinnacle and deal with makes the axe a extra snug and usable instrument in hand.

A Sharp Axe is a Protected Axe

All the time take into account that a uninteresting axe is a harmful axe. The duller it’s, the tougher you want to swing it to make it minimize. Studying the best way to sharpen an axe will permit you to minimize correctly and effectively, and matched with a robust swing, you’ll be a chopping machine. Preserve your sharpening instruments with you whilst you work, and also you’ll keep away from a uninteresting axe. The axe will do the give you the results you want, permitting you to swing softer and be safer whereas utilizing it.  You’ll have your fire going very quickly.

Axes are very forgiving in studying the best way to sharpen them. This implies that you may make an error on this course of, and it’s comparatively simple to repair. Get the proper instruments, be affected person in utilizing them, and you may be properly in your strategy to a protected, efficient, and environment friendly reducing axe.  


Q: Ought to an axe be razor sharp? 

A pointy axe is an environment friendly and protected axe. The final reply right here is sure, maintain your axe as sharp as you may get it. In case your axe is made for critical reducing—not simply wooden splitting—it’s best to be capable to get it sharp sufficient to shave with. That stated, be affected person and match the bevel of that axe, so that you don’t get too excessive. The everlasting marker trick is nice for this.

Q: How can I sharpen my axe at residence?

To sharpen your axe at residence, you want solely to comply with the steps specified by this piece. Use the method wanted for the present state of your axe—usually one of many three outlined right here. For subject contact ups, you solely want a sharpening stone and a strop, so you’ll be able to file it down wherever you end up. But when your axe has taken a nick (see the Common Upkeep part), you’ll actually desire a work bench to take a seat down and do that work. To soundly work on an axe, you’ll have to have it at a cushty top and clamped all the way down to maintain it from shifting whilst you work. However once more, the work itself is reasonably easy, and you may comply with the steps right here.

Q: Can I exploit a knife sharpener on an axe?

An axe is a bladed instrument identical to a knife, so sure in concept. However you could contemplate the methods axes are completely different: they’re greater and extra heavy responsibility. A hard and fast or adjustable angle knife sharpener wouldn’t be very sensible for an axe. You’d want a bastard file to essentially work on any axe-sized nicks. Nonetheless, you may use a whetstone for sustaining your axe’s leading edge, as the identical whetstone you employ for a kitchen or looking knife does the identical job as a sharpening puck. (Although for an axe, a sharpening puck works significantly better with the scale of an axe and ergonomics of sharpening.) 

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