Sharpening an Axe

Discussion in 'Other Weapons' started by jwhirl413, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. jwhirl413

    jwhirl413 New Member

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    Alright, so I know this isn't technically a weapon, but it would be very usefull if the SHTF. I was wondering if anyone knew the best way to sharpen an axe. I've got a large and a handheld axe that are about 4 years old and have quite a bit of use. I've had 4 tall pines fall in that amount of time, and have used them to clear about 150 square yards of small trees, so they've had plenty of use and need a new edge. Any suggestions?
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2009
  2. Shotgun Shooter

    Shotgun Shooter New Member

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    I'm not sure what they are called, but its a long, skinny metal piece. It has rough sides, which you just press against the edge of the axe. Idk, its hard to explain and I cant find a picture. Worked over 4th of July weekend, we had to chop wood for the fire. Takes a few minutes and makes a world of difference.

    Something like this.
    [​IMG]

    S.S.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2009

  3. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    First, find a good way to clamp the axe in one position. A vise is best, but you can also use a C clamp with the head laid flat, protruding from a table edge.

    Avoid using power tools unless there are big chunks missing out of the edge. They may remove too much metal, heat the edge and ruin temper, etc.

    I use a coarse file to reach the angle I need, and a medium file refine it. A water stone is used to do the final sharpening- leaving a smooth, slick surface that does not bind in the wood. Coarse file one side, then turn it over, coarse file the other, then medium, turn it over, etc. Keeps the edge centered in the plane of the axe head. SOME axes (broadax) are used to hew the sides of logs, and are actually sharpened off center- but you don't want that.

    There are different angles for a splitting axe than a felling axe (splitter is a more abrupt angle). Myself, I have a Sotz Monster Maul I use for splitting, and keep axes for cutting.

    Never leave an axe stuck in a log, and never use the poll (back of the head) as a hammer.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMu927zU0s0]YouTube - techlife: Techniques for sharpening an axe[/ame]
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2009
  4. AR762

    AR762 New Member

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    I do this as well but, as dumb as it may sound, I count the strokes when using the file ( and no comment out of anybody :D) to make sure I do the sides evenly. I guess I count it like I do when, I sharpen a knife on a stone.
     
  5. Franciscomv

    Franciscomv New Member

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    I sharpen my axes the same way I sharpen my convex ground knives: wet/dry sandpaper backed with and old mouse mat or leather. I start on coarse grits if I need to remove lots of metal, slowly moving to finer grits (I finish the edge on 1500 or 2000 grit). Then I strop it on leather with fine buffing compound.

    It's easy and I get a mirror polished edge that's keen enough to shave.
     
  6. RL357Mag

    RL357Mag New Member

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  7. AR762

    AR762 New Member

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    LOL! Sorry, I seen that one coming. I did the same thing.

    My mom, years ago gave me my Grandfather's Strait Razor and his Leather strap, the kind that you use to see in the Barber Shop. Been there done that.

    I'll stick to my Gilette Desposable Razor's. If things ever get bad, you can call me Grizzly Addams if you like. :D
     
  8. Franciscomv

    Franciscomv New Member

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    LOL :D I'm sorry you guys had bad razor experiences in the past. I shave with a straight razor and love it. But I'm a sharpening geek, I admit it, I can spend hours working to get that perfect gleaming edge.

    Here's a website with some good tips on shaving with a straight razor for beginners: RazorCentral - Home of the straight razor
     
  9. jwhirl413

    jwhirl413 New Member

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    thanks guys for the info, looks like i have something to do this weekend besides the same old cutting the grass. Cant wait to get it sharp again, might even take out some stress on a small tree or two. i knew i could count on you guys. i've also thought about getting a straight razor just in case, and i still might, although with the horror stories i may wait until there is no longer a mach 5 before i use it.
     
  10. RL357Mag

    RL357Mag New Member

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    Thanks Francisco! Interesting article with good info. I definately wasn't doing it properly, and I'm sure as sharp as my razor was, it still wasn't stropped. However, the problem with being "older and wiser" is that it makes you very skeptical about making the same mistakes all over again, especially when bleeding is involved...
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2009
  11. m72law

    m72law New Member

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    all i can say is...dont use a bench grinder...i did..and sense my chainsaw took a crap on me...i broke out the old go devil axe...hadnt used it in 500years...so it looked that way...when i got done with it,on the bench grinder of course:eek:...well,all i can say is...when i was done sharping this axe...a paraplegic with a butter knife could have cut wood easier.now only if i could just get my bench grinder to work with sharping my chainsaw chain...i might get somewhere:D
     
  12. cpttango30

    cpttango30 New Member

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    Don't use power tools? Man I didn't know that.

    I used a belt sander to clean it up then a rough file then a med file then a fine file then the wet stone.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN6rM2Zka_E]YouTube - How to Sharpen Garden Tools : Sharpening an Axe[/ame]
     
  13. Franciscomv

    Franciscomv New Member

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    You can sharpen with a belt grinder, that's how most knifemakers do it. You just need to make sure that you don't overheat the edge and ruin the heat treat.

    You can use the slack portion of the belt to get a nice convex edge. The way God and Moran intended. :)

    I prefer not to use power tools, because I have a tendency to screw up and they make it easier to screw up faster. I'd rather work slowly by hand, besides good cutting tools don't need heavy sharpening that often.

    Here's a method similar to mine courtesy of the folks at the Bark River collector's association (Barkies are fantastic knives, by the way). Bark River Collectors Association Convex Guide
     
  14. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Re: Chainsaw chain- there is an attachment for Dremels that allows you to sharpen your chain. DO NOT try it with a Dremel that does not have the attachment- your chain will melt away like the snows of winter on a warm Spring Day! Used a round file for touchup of chain for ages- now use the 5/32nd stone and the guide- takes about 2 minutes.

    Re: Axe- a belt sander WILL work- as the man said, avoid overheating the edge. I have a bench grinder that I use for everything from mower blades to chisels- BUT- I have a work rest that is adjusted, and a well used water cup to quench the item every few seconds. By the time you see steel turn blue, it is too late. Truth be told, think Grandad may have had the ideal tool- the grindstone that you turned by hand (could control better, impossible to overheat, water drip kept stone surface flushed.
     
  15. gorknoids

    gorknoids New Member

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    An axe and a knife have two separate and distinct purposes, and their sharpening should reflect that. A knife is used to slice, so a wide (From edge to spine) long bevel is the easiest to both produce and maintain. A chopping axe (Across the wood grain) is a little trickier.

    This explains it better than I can, but it doesn't address things like wood harness, head weight, and other "in-use" variables. axes

    Splitting mauls are entirely different animals. Having grown up in an uninsulated, ancient farmhouse at the top of a hill on the Canadian border heated solely by wood until my mid-teens, I have a background in practical axemanship! :)
     
  16. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Gork- I feel your pain! we have a wood burning furnace- use about 4 cords a year. Have a Zotz Monster Maul that I bought in 1989. 12 lb, head is a solid steel triangle with a steel handle. Have used it to split 60" red oak. When I was doing it a lot, the teenagers learned never to arm wrestle the old man! Nowdays I buy about 3/4 of our wood from a neighbor, and limit myself to managing the trees at our place.

    However, when it is January, 20 degrees, and an ice storm takes down the powerlines, you will learn to like that wood furnace! Wonder how the Feds will class that furnace when they start doing their "energy audits"- since my carbon footprint is zero (burning wood produces exactly same CO2 as rotting wood)
     
  17. gorknoids

    gorknoids New Member

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    You have to read the grain when you're splitting, regardless of the maul you're using. The stupidest thing I've ever seen is a "wedge" called a Wood Grenade. It's round, and basically acts like a porcupine quill. You can drive it in, but you can't get it out.
    Wedges are for getting a stuck maul out of a block, but some people use them for splitting. We'd go -20 quite frequently, and burn several full cords (As opposed to face cords) over a winter. Bedroom temps in the winter were normally below freezing, so there was a good bit of motivation to get to the cellar every morning and stoke that thing!