Sharpening an Axe: Restoring the Cutting Power

Sharpening an Axe: Restoring the Cutting Power

Introduction: Sharpening an axe is crucial for maintaining its cutting power and ensuring safe and efficient use. A sharp axe makes chopping wood easier and safer by reducing the effort required and minimizing the risk of accidents. This information page provides a step-by-step guide on how to sharpen an axe effectively and safely, allowing you to restore its cutting edge.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  1. Flat File or Axe Sharpening Stone: Use a flat file specifically designed for sharpening axes or an axe sharpening stone. These tools are designed to remove metal efficiently and restore the axe's cutting edge.

  2. Lubricant: Applying a lubricant, such as honing oil or water, to the sharpening stone or file helps reduce friction and prevents the axe blade from overheating during sharpening.

  3. Bench Vise or Axe Sharpening Jig (optional): To secure the axe safely during sharpening, you can use a bench vise or an axe sharpening jig. These tools provide stability and control during the sharpening process.

Sharpening Steps:

  1. Secure the Axe: If using a bench vise, open it wide enough to accommodate the axe securely. Place the axe head between the jaws of the vise, ensuring it is firmly held in place. If using an axe sharpening jig, follow the manufacturer's instructions to attach and secure the axe in the jig.

  2. Assess the Bevel Angle: Most axes have a bevel angle ranging from 25 to 35 degrees. Check the manufacturer's recommendations or maintain the existing bevel angle if known.

  3. Start with the Coarse Grit:

    • File or Stone Orientation: Hold the file or sharpening stone at the correct bevel angle against the axe blade. Maintain the same angle throughout the sharpening process.

    • Stroke Direction: Using long, smooth strokes, move the file or sharpening stone across the blade, starting from the axe head and working towards the bit (the cutting edge of the axe). Apply firm but even pressure, ensuring consistent contact along the entire bevel.

    • Even Strokes: Make an equal number of strokes on each side of the axe to maintain balance and symmetry. This helps ensure even sharpening and prolongs the axe's life.

  4. Flip and Repeat:

    • Flip the Axe: Once you have completed the desired number of strokes on one side, carefully remove the axe from the vise or jig and flip it over.

    • Repeat the Sharpening Process: Repeat the sharpening process on the other side of the axe. Use the same number of strokes and apply firm but even pressure, maintaining the correct bevel angle.

  5. Check for Sharpness:

    • Test the Edge: After sharpening, carefully wipe off any metal shavings or residue from the axe. Test the sharpness by gently running your thumb along the blade's edge. Be cautious and use light pressure to avoid injury. A sharp axe will have a clean and slightly rough edge that catches on your thumbnail.

    • Refine if Necessary: If the edge is not as sharp as desired, repeat the sharpening process with a finer grit file or sharpening stone to refine the edge further.

  6. Remove Burrs:

    • Deburring the Blade: After sharpening, the axe blade may have burrs or rough edges. To remove these burrs, use a honing stone or a finer grit file. Hold the stone or file at a slight angle and lightly run it along the edge of the blade, applying minimal pressure.
  7. Maintenance and Protection:

    • Oil the Axe Head: After sharpening, apply a thin coat of oil to the axe head to prevent rust and corrosion. Use a rust-pre