6 Best Ways to Sharpen An Axe Like a Pro

by | Last updated Nov 29, 2021

A sharp axe is going will get your work done instantly and with great ease. Mauls or the splitting ax don’t need to be sharp enough to cut logs and woods with force. Contrarily, feeling axes, hatchets, tomahawks, and limbing axes should be very strong to complete the work.

In this guide, we will discuss every crucial detail regarding ax sharpening. We are going to talk about the work to be done for the preparation to sharpen the axe. We will also tell you that you have to use the tools in the best way possible. Read ahead to know everything about axe sharpening.

What Is the Preparation Work for Axe Sharpening?

First of all, you have to wear protective gloves before starting work. You should not wear thick gloves because they will make the work challenging and consume more time. It will be good to use gloves made of light cotton to protect your hand and fingers from cuts. Are you planning to sharpen your axe in a closed space? If yes, wear a dust mask. When you use the power tools, wearing safety goggles and a respirator is essential to avoid metal dust.

In case your ax is rusty, you have to remove it before you sharpen your ax. You can use coarse-grit sandpaper, a rust eraser, and steel wool to do the work. When using the sandpaper, you can apply the force and do the rubbing by holding the handle’s ax. Keeping on do this until you get a satisfactory result.

Remember to choose a flat surface to place your axe. Few people will hold the ax by holding the ax head in their hands or their lap. The vital thing to do is keep the ax steady as you can when working with the tools.

Best Ways to Sharpen An Axe Like a Pro

We will discuss the best ways for properly sharpening an axe like a pro to help you boost your Bushcraft hatchets on terms of performance & durability.

1.Axe Sharpening Using a File

The file is going to do the rough work for shaping the profile and edge of the blade. You can pick a file between 8″ to 12″ long. One of the best picks will be the bastard mill file. You may choose a file by Bahco that is 8-inch long as it is very much easy to handle and grip as it comes from Europe and Portugal. It will offer you the best quality in comparison to the file created in China and Mexico.

The file which is smaller in size will not have teeth with similar density. Due to this, you are not going to get good results. If you are going to work on a hatchet, then you can use small files. The majority of the axe comes with a convex shape. When you apply the pressure with every stroke of your file, you must follow the blade’s curve. It is good to hold your file with one hold.

Another way of sharpening your axe using a file is by the draw method. In this, you will hold the handle of your file in one hand and the file’s tip in the other hand. After that, you will sweep it toward yourself. Remember that you have to do much work with a file if you have a dull axe.

In the case of a dull axe, you have to curve it from your file when you are filing the edge. It will develop a burr which will be a slight overhang present on the blade’s edge that will curve away from the file. You can feel it using your fingertip or fingernail. Once you create an overhang, remember not to change your blade’s angle to a greater extent. You have to repeat the same process on the other side as well.

It would be best to continue your work until you get a straight edge and there are no dents or chips available. You have to remove the burr with the help of many passes using the file on edge’s both sides. After every pass, don’t forget to change the sides. There is a huge possibility that there is a slight burr on one side. There is nothing to worry about because the next step is going to remove it.

After creating the edge, you have to hone it using a whetstone. It is also known as sharpening stone. Note that if there is already a decent edge in your axe, you can skip this process. There is no need to use a file.

2.Axe Sharpening Using Whetstone

Whetstone was designed as a sharpening stone to make the edge of your axe sharp. Whetstone comes in different grades. Have a look below:

  • 1000-grit: It is coarse and best for sharpening chipped edges.
  • 1000 – 3000-grit: For sharpening of dull edges.
  • 4000 – 8000 grit: Best for finishing blade and the refinement of edge.

Want to buy a whetstone? It is best to buy a double-sided whetstone. It should be 1000 grit from one side, 3000-grit on the other side. In the case of a finishing stone, you should get 3000-grit on one side and 8000-grit on the other side.

Once you get the whetstone, apply water or honing oil to the edge of your axe. You have to rub the stone in a circular motion on the edge. Try to apply even pressure and move from one end of the border to another.

It would be best if you didn’t forget to repeat the same process on the other side. After that, use the more delicate stone once you realize that burr is here. Once the burr is feather edge, you can stop. After the sharpening of your axe, apply beeswax, Vaseline, or oil on edge and head of your axe to avoid moisture.

3.Axe Sharpening Using River or Rock Stone

Life is unpredictable. There can be a situation in which you will have to use an axe full of rust. The only way to use it is to sharpen it using the river or rock stone. Have a look at the types of stones that you can use for sharpening your axe:

  • Large but smooth stones. You can place a stone on the ground, hold the axe with two of your hands and grind the axe’s edge against the rock.
  • Small stone. You can use coarse stone like granite or smooth like quartz.
  • Moderately hard sandstone.

To sharpen your axe, use river stone as one of the best choices. You are going to do the edge sharpening similar to the way with the whetstone. You should start the process using a coarse stone. Moreover, you should dampen the stone and blade. After that, you should start making circular motions on your blade in the up and down direction. Once done with the coarse stone, you can use the smooth stone.

You can use the hard sandstone to do the job. You will get the best result as in the case of using a commercial product. The main thing here to remember is that there is nothing to worry about if you find a dull axe. You can still sharpen your axe using river or rock stone.

4.Ax Sharpening Using Dremel Tools

Now, we are going to discuss the way of sharpening axe using power tools. It is one of the easy and quick ways to do the job. Note that careless sharpening of your axe can deform or damage your axe. It will practically make your axe unusable.

The majority of people have Dremel tools in their homes or within their workshops. These are small tools that can quickly sharpen your axe. Remember that there is a reasonable possibility that you might damage your axe, so below is the method to use the Dremel for sharpening your axe:

  • First of all, you need an excellent Dremel head. In most cases, people use grinding stones of aluminum oxides. It is the best from the authentic manufacturer of Dremel. You will get total peace of mind regarding the excellent price and quality. You can buy it from any local store or online on Amazon.
  • Before you start work, you should wear eyeglasses, a long-sleeve shirt, and a dust mask when working in a closed space. It is best to keep a water bowl on one side to dip the head of your axe once it gets too much hot. Hot axe is one of the risks when you are using the power tool for sharpening.

After you are ready:

  1. Turn on the Dremel and place head flat on the edge of axe’s head following axe’s bevel.
  2. Move the Dremel to the edge in the circular motion as you did it when using the whetstone. If metal is too hot to touch, then you need to stop.
  3. Allow it to cool down and dip it inside the water. If you are not going to do it, then this will increase the chance of scoring, chipping, and denting on the edge of your axe.

Here’s a pro tip for you. Overheating happens when you are going to do the sharpening of coarse grit using the finer grit. If you have a rusty axe, you should be using a 6000-grit. It is going to heat the metal instantly. Other than this, you should start using a coarse grit and use a finer grit for better finishing and sharpening.

You have to do the process on the second side as well. You should go for fine-grit Dremel if needed. You have to follow angle, bevel, or edge when using the Dremel tool. If you are not going to do it, you run the risk of shifting the angle of that particular section on edge ultimately. It will be very hard to fix. Be careful during the process instead of being afraid.

5.Sharpening of Axe Using Belt Sander

It is one of the powerful tools that are best for sharpening your axe. Before you use it, don’t forget to wear glasses, gloves, and a dust mask when working indoor. Once your belt sander is running, you have to grip the head of your axe using both of your hands.

You can have to run the axe across the sander in a bit of curve motion. You have to follow the curve and edge correctly. It would be best if you don’t press it down too hard, but don’t be afraid when applying pressure. Go for smooth passes and keep the head of the axe in motion.

It is essential to get an even and sharp edge. Do keep a bucket or bowl of water near to yourself to cool down the head of your axe. Furthermore, you have to use sandpaper according to the condition of your axe.

In case of a dull or rusty axe, you should use coarse sandpaper. Remember that fine-grit can also overheat the head of the axe. So, avoid using a fine grit paper in case of a rusty or dull axe. For belt sander, 1000-grit will be best for fine edge. It will be best to use a sharpening stone after getting an excellent advantage with the help of a belt sander.

6.Sharpening of Axe Using Angle Grinder

The last power tool we are going to use is the angle grinder. The procedure here is very similar to other tools. You have to follow the edge’s angle. It would be best to use a steady or smooth stroke as you will pass the angle grinder over the axe.

Don’t make several passes at once on one side. If you do so, then you are going to mess up the bevel with a tool that is much powerful than an angle grinder. Don’t forget to cool down the metal by dipping it inside the water.

What Is the Bottom Line Here?

Hopefully, now you know all the best ways to sharpen your axe. But the most appropriate way is to do the work by hand and using simple tools like whetstone and file. The reason behind this statement is that there is a risk involved when using power tools, and you might damage your axe. However, if you want to make your ax’s cheek thin and want to make an angle of your blade small, power tools are the best choice.

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