Gardening Tools: Axe Sharpening Tips

Axe stump to the tree

Axe is a perfect tool for cutting or splitting small quantities of wood. An axe is a versatile tool that has been used for generations to work with wood of all shapes and sizes. The axe generally cuts or splits small quantities of wood quickly, neatly, and economically. It has maintained relevance in the world and people still trust its power even today.

But axes can become dull after a few uses and require sharpening. If you have some basic tools in your garage, you can sharpen your axe within 15 minutes and chop wood again.

When To Sharpen Axe

It is always recommended to use the axe before or during an outdoor wood cutting session or when it starts getting colder out, and you would want to sharpen it then. The metal on metal grind of the blade creates sparks and allows for a more effective cut. Your best bet is to stop and run your thumb over the edge of the axe periodically. Make sure that you keep your training sharp so that you know how often you should be sharpening it.

Chopping wood is time-consuming and often dangerous. If you’re chopping too much wood, it can take a toll on your body. Use the head of the axe more to help you stay safe by striking off of gravity instead to get a good job done in less time.

What To Use In Sharpening An Axe

  • Sharpening Stone – Sharpen your axe with a whetstone (sharpening stone); it’s the best way to care for your tool. They vary in the level of sharpness they provide, from coarse stones that are great for roughing out a blade’s edge to finer ones that polish it down for more delicate tasks.
  • River Stone – River stones are best for the purpose of sharpening an axe, because they provide the best surface for a blade to gain an edge. You can sharpen an edge with a manufactured whetstone or with any number of other stones including the one in your kitchen drawer. The result will be the same. 
  • Power Tools – The process of sharpening an axe with power tools is a way to make it sharper in a short amount of time. However, if not done properly, it can cause deformation or damage to the axe’s blade which can render it almost unusable.
  • Belt Sander – A belt sander is a tool that is used to sharpen an axe and can be a great addition to anyone’s toolkit. It is important to remember that when using this tool, wearing protective gear is a must, such as gloves, glasses, and a dust mask if you are doing it indoors.

Here are the other tools that you need when sharpening an axe: 

  • File
  • File card
  • Gloves
  • Stones
  • Clamp or vise
  • Workbench or table

How To Sharpen Your Axe

  • First, assess the damage to the cutting edge.
  • Place a wooden wedge under your bit and then place the head above this contact point, which will provide stability and lift the bit away from the table, preventing it from slipping during use.
  • You should clamp the ax to a table or bench. If you have a vise, you could also clamp it that way. Make sure to wear gloves during this process, as there will be a lot of metal in contact with your skin. Sharpening an axe is a lot safer when it’s locked with your other hand so you can use your file for this. This way, both hands are free to do the job.
  • To make things easier for beginners, use a black permanent marker and draw along the edge of the blade. If you’re going through a difficult time finding an edge to cut, start with a pre-prepared document that’s already done well. You’ll want to make sure it has the same material thickness as the one you want.
  • The file should be held at an angle and pushed away from the cutting edge. It can be done by your left hand, which is doing most of the work. Push the file when you reach the end of the stroke, regardless of if it’s a swipe or an up and down motion. You can use an angle guide to help get those angles just right.

Importance of Sharpening Axe

It’s common knowledge that a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. That’s because more pressure has to be exerted on the blade in order to cut anything. As it turns out, axes are no different and require similar levels of pressure.

When splitting a log with a sharp axe, you need to raise the axe and then swing it down with a certain amount of force. As the axe dulls, you’re forced to strike that wood with increasing force. This eventually leads to a blunt force and makes sawing less effective.

Axe Sharpening Tips

Allowing an axe to completely dull is never recommended, so we want to provide you with some handy tips that will help you keep your tools in top shape. While sharpening an axe may appear to be a simple task, it can actually be quite dangerous if not done properly. To avoid any accidents when sharpening your axe, make sure that you are using the proper methods and tools to ensure the safety of both yourself and your surroundings.

  • Always wear hearing and eye protection when using a grinder or other sharp tools. 
  • Use the instructions that came with your item to make sure you know how to use it and are doing it correctly.
  • Ensure that all exposed clothing or body parts are out of danger’s way with the grinder. 
  • Wear gloves and shoes before touching the grinder’s edge. 
  • Be mindful of the axe when you’re hand-filing and make sure to wear gloves before you start sharpening. 
  • Be cautious around an edge that has just been sharpened and make sure that it isn’t dangerous until it’s completely cooled down.

Axe safety is always important as a sharpening tool can be very dangerous. It is best to always practice precautionary measures and follow these easy steps for safe sharpening.

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