Sharpen AX At Home
The sharper your ax, the smoother, quicker, and more enjoyable your work will be. Bringing your ax to a professional ax handler to be sharpened can sometimes be costly. But why let other people do it and charge you when you can do it at home yourself?
How can I sharpen my ax at home? There are many ways you can sharpen yourself at home, such as using rocks or using ax files. But of course, besides worrying about sharpening your ax, you should also consider your safety. Always wear protective gear.
This comprehensive guide to sharpening axes will show you everything you need to know. But, before I start, you have to be aware that there are various forms of axes.
How Sharp Should An Ax Be?
Ax Edge Profiles
The cheeks are the sides of the ax at the edge. It’s crucial how the ax transitions from the tip to the cheek. It should never be concave, in general.
Hold your ax convex unless you want to use it as an uncomfortable knife. What determines how quickly the transformation is convex is what you’re using the ax for. The quicker the ax chops, but the easier it is to hurt, the shallower the angle.
Straight Profile – Carving Wood And Splitting Firewood
Axes made for cutting rather than slicing have a profile that is as straight as possible. It also goes for small cheeks. The angle of the bevel must be between 25 and 30 degrees.
When cutting deeper into the wood, this gives you the most leverage without deviating. It’s also the profile that is most vulnerable to chipping. It harms your ax if you don’t chop perfectly straight.
A straight profile with thick cheeks is preferred for splitting firewood. The angle may reach 45 degrees! It converts the ax into a high-velocity wedge that splits the log optimally. On the other hand, a thick convex profile can break logs just as well as a thin convex profile.
Shallowly Convex – Chopping Softwood
Softwoods are easy to cut into with a shallow angled edge and a bevel close to the cheeks. From edge to cheek, there will be a curve. It’ll take some time to get there. The initial angle should be between 12.5 and 20 degrees.
Deeply Convex – Chopping Hardwood
Hardwoods are not only harder to cut through, but they are also more difficult on the ax. It means you can bring the bevel closer to the edge, allowing more metal to reach the tip.
Aim for a 25- to a 40-degree angle and a fast yet smooth curve toward the cheek. A deep convex bevel is also helpful for splitting, as previously discussed.
Ax Sharpening Techniques And Recommended Safety Gear
When sharpening an ax, always take precautions. You’re dealing with a blade that could sever your limbs if you make a single mistake. It would help if you never used your hands to judge how well you sharpened the cutting point.
Leather protective gloves and eye protection are recommended. Make sure your gloves aren’t too heavy, as this will make your movements more difficult. Keeping your hands and eyes protected is essential no matter which sharpening method you use.
If you’re sharpening with a Dremel tool or a bench grinder, wear ear protection as well. A dust mask or respirator can keep toxic debris out of the lungs when operating indoors.
Now that you know what profile you want for your ax, it’s time to learn how to sharpen it. You can use these methods to sharpen an ax, from a splitting maul to a small camping hatchet.
If you come across an ax in an antique shop, you can use these methods to return it to its former glory. In reality, you may have to fight me for the antique ax in the first place!
Cleaning The Ax Head
Cleaning the ax head-first removes any dirt or rust, making sharpening the ax more difficult.
You can also remove the rust with abrasive solutions. If given enough time, white vinegar or WD40, for example, will consume the rust.
- Place your ax in a vice on a workbench or in your lap with the head between your thighs.
- Remove any surface rust and dirt with steel wool.
- Spray enough WD40 solution on the head to cover it entirely. Allow WD40 to work its magic for half an hour to an hour. Remove any residual rust with steel wool after using white vinegar or WD40.
- Move on to your favorite sharpening process once you’ve cleaned up the majority of it.
- Use white vinegar to separate the handle from the head. Then submerge the head and leave it there overnight.
Sharpen An Ax With File
This method will necessitate the use of a vise or clamps. Never attempt to file your ax blade unless it is securely kept in place. The kind of file you have doesn’t matter as long as it’s in good shape. However, the longer – the better!
Maintain a safe distance from the edge with your toes, thumbs, palms, and other body parts. The side will take bits off. Sharpening the ax with a file consists of two steps.
Step 1: Profiling
The bevel on an ax will get more profound when you sharpen it over time. It’ll eventually curve from cheek to edge almost instantly.
- You’ll need to re-profile the ax at this stage. Remember to clamp your ax horizontally and firmly.
- Place your file at a 10-degree angle against the ax’s cheek, near the edge. When done on both sides, this would result in a 20-degree angle. A decent distance from the edge is 1/16′′.
- Push forward, from edge to poll, with enough strength to hold the file in place. Do not put much pressure on the file; let it do the job. Lift the file, reposition it near the edge and slightly to the side, and repeat the process.
Step 2: Sharpening
Now it’s time to give the ax the edge it so richly deserves. This time, you’ll put the file against the edge itself at a steeper angle.
- Add half of the overall angle to each side to get the overall angle. Otherwise, it’s close to ax profiling.
- Move the file from the ax’s edge to the rest of the ax without hammering it into the ax.
- When you go back and forth, move slightly to the left.
- It’s time to start having the profile angled once the edge is almost perfect. Start at the deeper angle.
- Gradually flatten the file to the same angle as the cheeks as you step forward.
Sharpen An Ax With A Rock
You’re unlikely to come across a scenario where you need to sharpen an ax with a rock found on the ground. Your operation may necessitate the use of an ax. Keep sharpening equipment on hand in case your ax becomes blunt.
Accidents happen, and you may drop your ax sharpener in a river or leave it at home. If this happens, don’t be discouraged. Simple rocks will work wonders. After all, sharpening stones were initially made entirely of stones.
Depending on the state of your ax, you’ll want to look for different types of rocks. You’d use a bastard file for severe damage and smoother sharpeners for minor damage and polishing at home, right? In this case, the same logic applies.
The following are some of the rocks that can be used to sharpen an ax:
1. Large, smooth stones
These sorts of stones can be used to grind the ax’s edge. It is a very inconvenient choice.
2. Smaller stones
Look for smaller stones that can be kept in your lap. If you want to polish, look for coarser stones to treat severe damage and smoother stones to treat minor damage.
Sharpening an ax with a small rock requires moving the rock against the ax’s surface rather than the ax against the surface as with large stones.
Sandstones that are moderately rough and not too crumbly. These work similarly to small stones.
All of those methods can be effective at sharpening an ax. However, you must consider the condition of your ax.
Sharpening should be done the same way it is at home.
- Begin with the coarsest stone you have and work your way more manageable as the ax sharpens.
- When you begin feeling a burr on the other side of the ax, you usually switch sides. A burr is a slight overhang. It bends away from the stone and the sharpening side of the bit. It is why you can feel it on the opposite side.
- When sharpening, keep the stone and the ax edge wet.
Sharpening An Ax With WhetStone
You can use any whetstone for this. The Puck can also be used to sharpen knives, machetes, and other weapons. Lawn Mower blades, too!
At least two grits, one coarse and one medium are needed. You’ll also need a fine-grit whetstone if you’re carving or speed-chopping. If your edge is rough or chipped, start with the coarse grit. Start with the medium grit if the edge is okay but not sharp.
- Wet the whetstone with a liquid. Water and oil are also excellent options. Metal shavings are suspended in the oil. They don’t clog up the whetstone and prevent it from grinding away at the ax’s blade.
- It’s safest to keep the ax in a vise. Hold it close against your body with the edge facing up.
- Keep both fingers and thumbs away from the working edge when holding the whetstone tightly. You don’t want to cut off your fingers! Sharpening an ax head with a puck grinder
- If you’re using a straight stone, pass it as if you’re slicing a thin layer off with an ax. If you’re using the Puck, make a circular motion with the stone. Make sure the circles are overlapping! Function on the one hand, then turn the ax and work on the other.
- To help remove a feather’s edge, some people prefer to finish with a few circles back on the original hand.
- Dark metal shavings can be visible floating in the liquid, and they resemble a blob. Take those blobs out.
- If you’re using oil, add a few more drops, scatter them around, and wipe the stone clean with a rag. You can clean it off on your trousers if you use water or spit. I promise that the dark stain from the metal filings will come out in the wash!
Sharpen An Ax With Power Tools
- Take both hands and run your ax head across the sander in a slightly curving motion. Carefully follow the edge and curve of the bit.
- Don’t press down too hard but don’t be afraid to apply pressure. The trick is to apply pressure evenly, without rushing, and without holding the blade against the sander.
- Smooth pass. It keeps the ax head moving and is essential for achieving a sharp, even edge.
- To protect your ax-head from losing its cool, keep a bucket or bowl of water (or a spray bottle) nearby.
Take note that a suitable Dremel head is needed.
- Turn on the Dremel and put the head flat against the ax-head’s side, following the ax’s bevel.
- As you would with a sharpening stone, move the Dremel around the edge in circular motions. Stop immediately if the metal becomes too hot to touch (too hot to hold your finger on).
- Allow it to cool before dipping it in water. Otherwise, the metal could lose its temper. Your ax tip would be more susceptible to chipping, denting, and scoring.
- Rep on the other side of the lip, and if possible, move to a finer-grit Dremel head.
Use clamps or vice to secure the ax. To make following the bevel easier, put a block of wood under the ax-head. The steps are the same as with other instruments.
- As you run the angle grinder over the ax bit, match the angle of the edge as closely as possible. Use quick, steady strokes.
- With a tool as strong as an angle grinder, you shouldn’t make several passes on one side in a row. You will risk ruining the bevel.
- Focus on the task at hand. Also, remember to wet the metal often to keep it cold.
To conclude, the only way to sharpen an ax is to do it by hand with essential tools. There’s no chance of destroying the ax as there is with a power tool.
Also, it doesn’t take any longer re-sharpening. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes if the ax is even moderately well-maintained.
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