What Is an Axe Sharpening Stone? & 5 Top Choices

When you finally find the perfect axe, you’ll want to keep it in perfect working condition. To do this, you’ll need to sharpen it regularly with an ax sharpening stone. You should sharpen your splitting tool anytime you notice burs, jagged edges, or general dulling. Using the wrong axe sharpening stone for the job can make the process slow, inefficient, and can even ruin the shape of the bit. This article takes out the guesswork of purchasing the right axe sharpening stone by listing the top whetstones from the least expensive to the most.

a wood splitting axe on a log

The Top 5 Axe Sharpening Stones

1: Lansky Dual Grit Sharpening Puck

a small Lansky dual grit sharpening stone

The Lansky sharpening puck is a well-rounded axe sharpening stone best used for regular maintenance. The puck is dual-sided, equipped with 120 grit and 280 grit. For the best results, make sure to purchase a container of Lansky Nathan’s Honing Oil to remove swarf.

Many woodworkers prefer this puck for its handling ability. The 3” diameter is compact but fits comfortably in hand. The contoured ridges of the puck are sometimes preferred over flat options, such as the Norton puck. Also, the Lansky puck weighs about 6.5 oz, making it a very portable option for hikers, woodworkers, or the occasional DIY homeowner. At only $9, the Lansky puck should be a tool you always take with you for unexpected sharpening jobs.

2: Norton Abrasives St. Gobain

a Norton axe sharpening stone

This silicon carbide, also known as Norton Crystolon puck is geared for smaller projects and mobility. The puck is 3” in diameter, very similar to the Lansky Dual Grit Sharpening Puck. However, this tool is flat and slightly thinner. Although the puck contains a coarse and fine side, it’s recommended for general sharpening sessions. It is currently priced for $10.

3: Lansky Soft Arkansas Stone

a Lansky soft sharpening stone

Lansky offers several grits of Arkansas Stones. However, the Soft Arkansas Stone is a staple among oilstones. This novaculite stone is great for removing nicks and jagged edges quickly. The Lansky Soft Arkansas Stone is about 6” and is equipped with a non-slip rubber frame to assist with gripping. Like the Lansky puck, make sure to apply honing oil liberally to assist with mobility and swarf build-up. Since this stone is a little heavier and requires oil, consider using it for sharpening sessions at home.

Listed at $20, the Lansky Soft Arkansas Stone is a budget-friendly whetstone that will complement the Lansky sharpening puck well.

4: Fallkniven Diamond/Ceramic Stone

a Fallkniven diamond/ceramic stone

Consider the Fallkniven Diamond/Ceramic Stone if your main concern is convenience and a compact design. This stone is approximately 3” long. Its small size makes it perfect for long-distance trips or smaller sharpening sessions. The diamond stone portion is best used for coarse sharpening, while the ceramic side is finer, and can be used for polishing. Despite the materials, the Fallkniven stone is listed at $24.

5: Gransfors Bruks Ceramic Grinding/ Sharpening Stone

a Gransfors Bruks axe sharpening stone

The Gransfors Bruks Ceramic puck is the most expensive product, currently listed at $50, but it sharpens quickly and efficiently. The puck is mostly flat with a beveled edge. The diameter is smaller than other pucks, barely over 2”.

This puck is technically a dry stone, though it can be used with or without water. In addition, it is dual-sided, with 180 and 600 grit. Overall, this is a well-rounded stone that allows you to sharpen for a variety of jobs. However, since this is a ceramic puck and is prone to breakage, be sure to store it in its case when it’s not in use.

Choosing the Right Axe Sharpening Stone for You

Choosing an axe sharpening stone may seem confusing at first. Still, your final purchase is dependent on your handling preference, where you will be sharpening the axe, and what type of sharpening your axe requires. Some woodworkers prefer working exclusively with sharpening pucks.

These tools are more compact than traditional whetstones, and often contain two levels of grit. However, depending on your axe’s condition, you may need to use multiple tools for a single session. In general, a more significant damage will require a more coarse grit. Each type of whetstone represents different grit capabilities and levels of cutting speed.

Oilstones are the most traditional choice and usually offer the best price point. These stones range significantly on grit and material but usually are made from novaculite, aluminum oxide, or silicon carbide. If your axe requires a coarse grit for jagged edges, consider beginning with a silicon carbide stone, such as the Norton Crystolon stone and finishing up with the Lansky dual-sided puck.

Water stones are less popular but can cut faster than oilstones. Aluminum oxide is typical, but water can be used with ceramic as well. Aluminum oxide will wear much more quickly and may need to be flattened before too long.

A diamond stone is the hardiest and most expensive option available. This axe sharpening stone will cut very quickly and can be an excellent choice for sharpening sessions that require a heavy duty tool. However, keep in mind that you may need to follow up with a finer grit later.

Drawing to a Close

Before choosing which axe sharpening stone is best for you, assess the goals of your sharpening session. If you need a general sharpening tool, consider the Lansky Dual-sided Sharpener Puck, the Norton Abrasive puck, or the Soft Arkansas Stone. If your axe requires more grit, go for the Fallkniven stone.

For a fine and coarse grit, consider the Gransfors Bruks puck. When choosing between the different types, you may want to consider the convenience of water or oilstone compared to a dry stone. Do you have a tool you can’t live without? Share your favorite axe sharpening stone below.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Pamela M. Slocum