Splitting wood with a blunt axe isn’t working, well technically it’s but it is far from efficient. And when you need to split a cord of wood you don’t want to be working all day on it. So keeping your axe sharp will make the job a lot easier. Now the big question here is what is the best way to sharpen an axe? And how sharp does it need to be?
As for everything there are different ways to sharpen your axe. There is no best way to sharpen an axe, but there is one that is the most popular and convenient way and that is to use a sharpening stone. You buy them for less than $ 10,- and they are really easy to use.
This guide will help you get started with this simple process. If you have any questions please let know! Don’t have a sharpening stone yet? Check this article where I explain the differences between the sharpening stones.
Best way to sharpen an Axe
1. Remove major chips and dents.
An edge that gets chipped happens to the most, especially if you chop your wood in the woods. The wood you chop contains a small amount of dirt and sand which can cause dents/chips in the edge.
The easiest method to remove the damage is to use a fine-toothed flat file. The important key here is to make sure the edge keeps it original shape. File both sides and along the whole edge.
2. Minor dents and normal wear
Normal wear on the edge can be tackled with a coarse handheld whetstone. I recommend buying a dual grit whetstone, this stone has a coarse side for the quicking shaping and a medium side for the final sharpening of the edge.
The advantage of this puck sized whetstone is that you can just put it in your pocket when you go out into the wood. For a perfect result and to keep your blade and sharpening stone in mind condition you could use a honing oil.
Honing oil is a petroleum-based lubricant for bench stones and protects to stone, carries away the debris and produces a sharper, cleaner edge on the axe. You could also use water, but the advantage of honing oil is that it’s the right consistency for sharpening stone. It will provide just enough lubrication to avoid wearing out the stone.
How to use the sharping stone?
Apply a few drops of the honing oil to the rough grid side of the sharping stone.
Firmly hold the axe near the head with your weaker hand. Use your strong hand to grasp the sharpening stone. Hold it with your thumb and fingers and let it support on your palm.
Move the sharping stone in a circular motion along the entire edge. Keep overlapping the circles as you move along. Keep the angle consistent while you are sharpening. When done with one side, repeat it on the other side.
We have now removed the main dents and normal wear on the edge. Now it’s time to make the edge razor sharp. Use the medium grit side for the final sharpening. Again, make circular motions and work along one side of the edge first.
Here is also a great video that explains the use of the Lansky Puck:
3. For a perfect result
To make the cutting edge even cleaner you could use a length of leather or a leather strop belt. I have never done it, I find my axes sharp enough after using a sharpening stone, but for a keen result, the axe can be stopped against a length of leather after honing. Make sure you run each stroke away from the cutting edge.