How to sharpen an axe

An axe has always been used in the past by the wood smith. It comprises of a steel blade attached at ninety degrees (right angle) to a wooden handle. Currently, it is being used for felling trees, to chop woods. A blunt axe is the hardest thing to work with. This is so because it may cause bruises.

The only way out to prevent the effect is by sharpening it. This is an exercise you should take up carefully since it requires time. Sharpening an axe is a tiring exercise, though, the results pay. It is important to note that an axe is an essential tool. A sharp axe makes your work easy; whenever I need to chop wood in my yard, I sharpen my axe the better part of the morning.

Follow these 7 steps to Sharpen your Axe

  • Clasp the axe with a vice: The axe is held horizontally for ease in filling. The vertical clasp ensures the edges are well sharpened. Both ways ensure that the axe cannot tilt while working on it. The clasp should be firm to avoid tilting and harming you in the process.
  • If the axe is badly damaged, use of a bastard file. This removes the coarse surface of the file and makes it smooth to work on. It is important to select approximately 25-30cm file length. For a new file just apply some chalks.
  • ​When sharpening in the forest, just sit comfortably. Clamp the axe with the wooden part down and bit facing upwards.
  • ​Also, you can hold the bit with your hands as you hold the wooden part by one side of the neck. The picture shows how to handle the axe when working away from home.
  • ​Check on your axe design. This ensures that you give the axe the required shape. It also helps to avoid developing bad edges.
  • Check if your edges are sharp enough. Use a heavy sharpener in this level, and you will be refining the axe. Make sure as you sharpen the axe; you are cleaning the service.
  • In shaping the axe, you may use the Nicholson Tapered files . It is economical and reliable to use. The grinder will be used in case of a normal damage. Make sure the bevel is maintained as per the original one.

How to hone an axe

Honing is the process of giving the axe the final smooth look and shape.
Sewing oil is applied in motions in the coarse side using whetstone.
The second step involves using a finer type of whetstone. This should be done anytime the axe is to be used.
When the axe is warm, it is good to rub it with machine oil; you can also use a mixture of bees wax and additional oil. Check out the video demonstration of a axe being honed.

How do you find the appropriate axe?

In every task, you have to find the appropriate tool. So, the same is the case with an axe. Different chores require different types of axes. Your choice will be determined by the quality of work you intend to produce. An axe should cut deeper and faster; should be easy on your hands and with a long handle.

The material of the blade determines the durability, sturdiness and edge retention of your axe. While you can choose bronze due to its ease of sharpening, it loses edge fast and is less durable. Most axes are made of steel or iron; these are durable, retain edge but are a little more challenging to sharpen. It takes time to sharpen a good axe .

People in wars use battle axe which is well suited for the job. Thus, it is important to understand the use of each type of an axe.

How to make an axe handle

Handles made of wood or hickory ash last longer and are reliable to work with. After you identify your log, cut it into two. This encompasses the use of a sledge hammer to split the log into two pieces. Then split the same half into quarters. Make sure the wood grains are running straight.

Identify a straight grain and work with it. To cut out the shave, use the wedge. Check out where the rings are closer together and create a crack. This should run downwards but in straight lines.

Using a sharp edged carpenter’s axe, trim the bark and some growth of rings. Follow the grain downwards and remove as much wood as possible. Work from the center of the wood, trimming as much as you need until you have the required thickness.

To establish flat edges, use a draw knife. Ensure you scrap off all the extra wood and do the same to both sides. Turn your handle into a right angle with narrow edges looking up. Using the rasp, shape it into the preferred size. Fix the axe head and scrap any excess wood.

Using sand paper smoothen the handle. Later trim the handle into the length of your choice.

Do you require protective clothes?

Personal safety is of importance. You don’t want to have fire warmth while healing a wound. Therefore, it is important to have leather gloves. If possible also put on goggles to cover the eyes from the metal dust. It may not be so necessary, but you can have an apron to shield yourself from the metal dust too.

Some metal dust stick to the clothes and are hard to clean. You don’t want to go back looking for clothes after having a sharp axe. As always prevention is better than cure.

The level of sharpness you require depends on the use of the axe. To achieve that ultimate sharpness, you need to have the following tools.

  • The axe itself: a sharp axe means efficient work and time saved.
  • A file: This should be about 10-13 milli file (bastard file). This ensures the axe is not overheated and avoids damaging it.
  • An axe stone: This is necessary to give the axe a smooth finish. After sharpening it takes care of the edges. For better results, use together with grinding oil.

Is there general care for axes?

Just like any other asset, proper care should be given to the axe. The care given to the axe will ensure that you get a good service. You don’t want to go to the shop again and again. It is of importance to know how to store and take good care of this important tool. This will ensure its durability.

  • An axe should be stored in a dry place which is not too hot. Hot places make the handles shrink.
  • Do not store it when the bit and sheath are wet. It may cause it to rust.
  • Do check regularly if the axe head is well fitted with the axe handle.
  • Do not use the axe as the hammer. Ax is for chopping, therefore, using it for its purpose makes it last long.
  • ​Make sure the axe is well oiled if it's to stay for long without being used.
  • ​Do not store it in a dumpy place.
  • ​Keep away from children's reach to avoid home accidents.
  • Always do recheck the condition of your axe before you start working with it.

Stay Safe. Buy a Good Axe

According to Abraham Lincoln, he said,

If I had four hours to cut a tree, I'd spend the first two hours sharpening the axe

Abraham Lincoln


Therefore, this shows you how important it is to take care of your axes. It will save time for you and ensure efficiency. It is essential to be cautious and observe proper precautions. It is better to spend many hours sharpening your axe and have an efficient job done.

The more you take care of your axe, the more its durability. Just like any other asset, your axe should be your partner. It is so because during cold season you can chop and split wood. Fire, as you know, keeps our body warm.

In short to sharpen an axe is a simple task. It requires proper mind set and attention. Ensure you have observed the above rules on safety. There is nothing terrible than working with a dull axe.

Regarding finances be sure to spend a good sum; good quality calls for a good sum of money. High-quality material for an axe means a long lasting axe. It is important to note the availability of sharpening material. Never compromise on the quality.


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