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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Re: sharp ax

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07-16-2013 12:35:24

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Well, there's as many different ways to sharpen an axe as there are people to sharpen them, but if you have an hour to spare, I'm linking a USFS documentary that's pretty good and covers lots of important axe tips beside sharpening. Personally, I take out large nicks with a file (yes, it's slow work but much safer for the axe than more aggressive methods), then work my way through 3 or 4 grits of stone and finish on a leather strop. A belt sander turned upside-down and run through several grits from 60 or so up to 320 or so then finished with a fine stone or two and stropping also works. Take out all your nicks and shape your edge with the coarsest belt you have--the coarser the abrasive the cooler it runs and the faster it will go. Either way will produce a shaving-sharp edge which, if properly beveled, won't be too fragile for a bit of rough work such as frozen wood or the occasional knot. If you go the belt sander route, keep the blade cool--dipping it freqently in water and using a lube like WD-40. A bench grinder is usually a bad idea--too easy to burn the temper out of the blade and it produces a concave edge, which is not what you want on an axe. If you were in NY I'd be happy to do it-I enjoy axe sharpening and often get "volunteered" to do it for friends.

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Prawn Farmer

07-19-2013 05:33:49

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 Re: sharp ax in reply to TimV, 07-16-2013 12:35:24  
TimV -USFS video is fantastic. I regularly use a couple of Fiskars but this makes me want to dig out my old Belknap/Bluegrass axes and "tune" them up some rainy day. Thanks for the link!

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07-19-2013 10:38:57

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 Re: sharp ax in reply to Prawn Farmer, 07-19-2013 05:33:49  
No problem--here's another similar link with much of the same material in written form rather than video. I'm always on the lookout for old axe heads to re-hang and sharpen--they make, in my estimation, wonderful gifts, and as I always pass them along with a lesson on their care and feeding to people I think will appreciate both the gift and the knowledge, I like to think I'm doing my small part to keep these traditions alive. The fact that a decent axe, properly used and cared for, can be a lifelong helper and companion, is an added bonus, as is the fact that as a rule the $2.00 axe with the old broken handle you find at a garage sale is often better raw material for a good axe than the vast majority of new ones sold today, and you can sharpen and handle it to suit your preferences and match what you plan on doing with it.

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