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How to Sharpen an Axe Easily: Tips & Tricks

An axe is only as good as it is sharp. That sends a clear message to handymen everywhere: you need to know how to sharpen your axe!

The problem, though, is that there are many different methods to sharpen an axe. It can be difficult to learn all of these methods on your own, and even more difficult to pick which method is best.

That’s why we put together this comprehensive guide. Not only will we walk you through all of the different ways to sharpen your axe, but we’ll help you discover which method is best for you!

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1. Clean the Head

Below, we have a full breakdown of the different ways you can sharpen your axe. No matter which method you choose, though, your first step must be to clean the axe head.

All you have to do is take some steel wool and remove all of the debris and rust from the head of the axe. Once you’re done, your axe will look better than ever and be that much easier to sharpen!


2. Sharpen with a File

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to sharpening your axe. In fact, you can sharpen it nicely using only a simple file!

Simply place your axe in a vise and use a permanent marker to mark the beveled part of the bit. Then, take out a 10-inch mill file and place it on the bit.

After that, you simply push the file off of the blade in one clean motion and repeat this at least five times on either side. Just like that, you’ve got a sharpened axe!


3. Use a Whetstone

You can go really “old school” when sharpening your axe. And to do that, you’re going to need a good whetstone!

Start by lubricating the stone’s rough side and placing one of the beveled axe edges against the stone. Next, apply modest pressure to the blade to press it into the stone. Keep track of how long you do this because you’ll want to apply consistent pressure on both sides.

You’ll need to make small circular motions while moving the other beveled axe edge towards the far end. Next, you must flip the axe over and repeat the process, all while making the same number of circles. Just ignore the paste that forms while you work.

After you do both sides of the axe on one whetstone side, you flip the stone over and start the whole process over again. Don’t forget to lubricate the other side of the stone before you get started!


4. Try a Sharpening Puck

A sharpening puck can also do the trick when it comes to sharpening your axe. You must start out with your axe between your legs and its head in your lap.

Lubricate the rough side of the puck and place it on one side of the bit. Next, stroke the axe on the puck and keep track of how many strokes you make so that you can repeat this on the other side.

At this point, the process is similar to use a whetstone. You need to make circular motions while moving the axe to the far side. After that, you bring the puck to the other side and recreate your steps, right down to the number of circles.


5. Bench Grinder Power

If you want to get some heavier-duty tools involved, a bench grinder is a great way to sharpen your axe. Start by turning the grinder on and positioning the beveled edge of the axe parallel to the grinder.

Next, ensure the grinder is spinning away from the blade and gently press the bit against the grinder. Periodically dip the axe into some water to keep the metal from getting brittle from the heat.

Once you are finished with one side, flip the axe over and repeat the process. Finish things up by using a wire brush to clean up the bit edges.


 

6. Do It With a Dremel

A dremel is another tool that can help to sharpen your axe. You begin by marking the beveled edge of the axe with a permanent marker.

Next, hold the axe in one hand and use the other hand to position the dremel parallel to the bit. Gently press the axe edge into the dremel, and dunk the axe head in water to avoid the problem with overheating metal.

Once you are finished with the first side, flip the axe over and start again. And don’t forget to use a wire brush to clean up the edges of the bit when you are done!


7. A Plain and Simple Rock

We’ve explored specialty solutions to sharpening your axe and we have explored high-tech solutions. But would you believe you can sharpen your axe with nothing more than rock?

Start by locating a rock with a flat side. By adding a little water, you can transform this rock into a whetstone. You can then begin sharpening it and making little circular motions while you work.

Next, place the bottom corner of one side of the bit against the rock and repeat the sharpening process. After that, flip the axe over and start again. As with other methods, try to replicate the number of circles you previously made.

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Which Method Is Best?

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to sharpen your axe. So how can you tell which method is best for you?

Your decision may come down to your budget. For example, using a basic file or even a rock is going to be far cheaper than buying a bench grinder.

Your decision may also come down to your skill level. The grinder and dremel both do a great job, but they take metal off very quickly. If you don’t know what you’re doing when using these tools, you may end up ruining the axe instead of sharpening it.

Long story short? Beginners and those on a budget should stick with files, pucks, and whetstones. Those with bigger budgets and more experience should go with the dremel or the grinder.

Either way, the end result is the same: an axe that is sharper and more effective than ever!


Featured Image: Sterling College, Flickr

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