How To Sharpen An Axe

How To Sharpen An Axe

In this handy clip from Videojug, watch as Dale Collett offers a step-by-step guide on the art and science of axe sharpening. Follow along and you'll be able to improve your outdoor survival skills by making sure that any axe you use is razor sharp.

The big difference between sharpening a knife and sharpening an axe is that an axe has a curved bevel coming down to its cutting edge. So, that means you need to sharpen this using a smaller stone. You can actually buy circular stones specifically for axe sharpening, but I prefer this little one here.

This is diamond on one side and graphite on the other. The skill in sharpening an axe is being able to get your sharpening stone so it actually meets the cutting edge of the axe. And the best way to do that is to hold the axe like this, place the sharpening stone against it, and if you look closely, you can see a shadow between the cutting edge here and the face of the sharpening stone.

If I tilt the sharpening stone like this, that shadow disappears. Once that shadow's disappeared, you're then sharpening on the very cutting edge. Now, as with all sharpening stones, you need to make it easy to move.

So, we dip it in some water quickly, place it against, and then you start moving in circular motions, starting at the top, and then going to the bottom, and then bringing it back to the top again. Do a couple of passes on one side. Then you need to turn the axe over.

So, you see here the handle was facing down. Now, I need to bring the handle up. I can put the handle up alongside my neck and rest it on my neck, making sure again that I can look down and see the cutting edge.

The same as before, circular movements, paying close attention to the angle of the stone, making sure that it's hitting the cutting edge, then I flip it over again, do the opposite side, and it's just repeating this process again and again. So once I've done this a few times, on either side, using the coarse side, I can then flip to the fine side which is this graphite side. But it's the same rule of any sharpening stone.

You'll get sharpening stones with different grades. The same rules still apply, start with a coarser grade, and then go to a finer one. So I've repeated the process all with the softer side of the stone and now, it's ready for a process called stropping, which I'm going to use a leather belt for this and I'm going to lash it around a tree.

If you look at leather, it's got a shiny side and a dull side. It's the dull side that you want to use for stropping. Stropping is an important part of the sharpening process because as you sharpen, an axe or a knife, you create a small burr on the cutting edge, and this burr needs to be gotten rid of.

And we do that by using leather. And what I'm going to do, is I'm going to take my axe, I'm going to place it on the dull side of the leather belt and I'm going to pull the axe towards me so the cutting edge is moving away from the leather. If I go towards, it's fairly obvious what's going to happen.

I'm going to cut through my nice expensive leather belt. So as I pull towards me, I'm going to make sure that I roll the axe around in my hand slightly so that I get all of the cutting edge. Once I've stropped towards me, I then turn the axe over, and go away from it again, rolling the head around like this so I get all of the cutting edge and the just alternate the sides.

I'm keeping the belt nice and tight. If I let the belt go really floppy, you can see what would happen is that the belt would literally drag across the cutting edge of the axe which would blunt it. It wouldn't strop it.

So I need to keep it nice and tight like that. So, this has now been stropped up. Edge is razor sharp, which I'll prove, by shaving the hairs on my leg.

I wouldn't recommend this normally, but it just demonstrates how sharp the axe can get. And that is how to sharpen an axe. .