An axe is an indispensable tool to have when working in the outdoors. However, axe blades can easily become dull, making your work inefficient.
Luckily, there are a number of techniques you can follow to sharpen your axe like a pro.
In this article, some instructions for sharpening an axe are discussed as well as five effective tips for sharpening an axe. Towards the end of the article, some final thoughts are presented on how to sharpen an axe.
Instructions for Sharpening an Axe
There are several steps you should keep in mind when sharpening an axe.
First, make sure you place a sharpening stone on a damp towel, as this prevents either from sliding during the sharpening process. Also, make sure the stone is on a flat surface.
You can use many different types of stone to sharpen an axe. Most important is to use the coarser side at first, as this will make your work most efficient. You can move to finer stones as you near completion.
To sharpen the axe, you should draw the blade across the stone, starting at the heel of the blade and ending at the tip. Most experts recommend using a 20-degree angle when sharpening.
Then, after drawing the blade across the stone on one side of the blade, you should repeat the same motions on the other side. This ensures a balanced sharpening job.
The last step is to clean up the metal filings at your workstation. After that, you are ready to use your sharpened axe.
5 Tips for How to Sharpen an Axe
In this section, five of the most effective tips for sharpening an axe are considered in depth.
1. Acquire the Necessary Supplies
If you want to know how to sharpen an axe, one of the first steps is to acquire the necessary supplies.
These supplies will depend on the kind of axe you have. Most axes will benefit from a 10-inch bastard mill file. These can be purchased at a local hardware store like Ace Hardware for an affordable price.
Many workers also benefit from wearing protective gear when they sharpen an axe. This gear minimizes the chance that an accident will occur by protecting vulnerable parts of your body like your hands, face, and arms.
Durable gloves can be worn to protect the hands while a long-sleeve shirt should be sufficient to protect your arms. Many workers wear some kind of eye gear in order to protect their eyes. Other workers wear a face mask in order to ensure maximum safety.
If your safety gear is too aggressive, it could interfere with your sharpening project. Some workers wear a large face mask only to find that this gear makes it difficult to see details on their axe. This might make it difficult to sufficiently sharpen the blade, leading to a compromised axe.
As you are sharpening your axe, you want to remain as nimble and dexterous as possible in order to maximize the sharpening. However, you also want to keep your safety in mind so that you are healthy enough to even use the axe in the future.
Balance is key in this regard. You don’t want to go overboard with supplies, as this will be a pain to clean up and manage. Yet, you also don’t want to use too little supplies, as this might lead to injury or a compromised blade.
2. Be Patient Throughout the Process
Patience is key if you are wondering how to sharpen an axe.
Even though axe-sharpening is a simple process, there can be some frustrating parts that can lead to impatience. Impatience can be very dangerous when it comes to axe-sharpening, as this emotion can lead to careless gestures or irrational decision making.
When you are sharpening the blade of an axe, it’s important to be methodical and patient. This will allow you to perfect the blade to your liking. Some people rush through the process only to find that their axe needs to be sharpened in a couple of weeks. Sharpening the blade every couple of weeks is very inefficient when compared with sharpening the blade only several times a year. You want to aim for the latter, which means patiently sharpening the blade each time.
For some workers, a mill won’t be enough. These works will also need some kind of sharpening stone to really perfect the sharpening job. If you are patient enough, you can ensure that your blade is sharpened for many months of use.
Patience is also critical because it will prevent any injuries during the process. Both the axe and the sharpening tools you use will have sharp edges that could cut you if you’re not careful. Practicing extreme diligence throughout this process is necessary.
3. Enlist the Help of Another Person
Many people like to enlist the help of a friend or family member when sharpening an axe.
These people can provide support throughout the process, encouraging you in each step and talking to you if you get bored or tired.
At some points during the axe-sharpening process, you might want to get another person’s perspective on your work. A friend or family member can provide this additional perspective which could be invaluable for your job.
Sometimes when you are immersed in a job for a period of time, it can be difficult to get an accurate sense of your progress. Sometimes an outside perspective is all that is needed to set you on the right path.
In the same vein, you should choose someone to accompany you who understands your workflow. If you like to be silent throughout much of the process, then perhaps a more silent partner would be beneficial. A talkative partner could distract you and make injury more likely.
On the other hand, if you like to talk while you work, then a more talkative partner would be ideal. Some workers even like to listen to music, the radio, or a podcast as they work.
4. Take Many Breaks During the Job
Taking breaks is important for anyone interested in how to sharpen an axe.
Sharpening an axe can be tiring, especially for newcomers. Yet, since you are dealing with sharp materials, you should rest when you feel compelled to. If you handle sharp objects when your energy levels are compromised, you could make a mistake that impacts your health.
If you are working in hot weather, then breaks are critical to prevent exhaustion. You should drink water frequently throughout the process to prevent dehydration.
Many people like to drink fresh coconut water, as it has electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, sugar, fat, and protein. Coconut water is the most natural, purified source of water on the planet and will provide you with sufficient energy to complete your job.
5. Minimize Your Stress Levels
If you are interested in how to sharpen an axe like a pro, then you will need to minimize your stress levels.
Axe-sharpening professionals are all very in touch with the connection between their mind and body.
Negative emotions like stress can prematurely tire you and lead to a compromised job. This is because much of the body’s energy must be diverted to deal with the stress, leaving less energy available for the sharpening job.
There are many to reduce your stress levels. Many workers like to meditate before they start the job, as this can minimize the ego and foster a peace of mind that is perfect for working with an axe.
Another way to reduce your stress levels is to get sufficient sleep. When you sleep, your body is able to cleanse and regenerate so that you can have optimal energy levels during the day. When your sleep becomes compromised, you are likely to feel fatigued, imbalanced, and stressed out during the day. These are not ideal traits when working on an axe-sharpening project.
Stress could also make you overthink each act when sharpening an axe. This could disturb your process, resulting in an axe that is still dull and ineffective. If you are sharpening an axe for a client or friend, then this would not be ideal, as they would need to get it re-sharpened shortly.
By reducing your stress, you can get into a flow state. This will help you perfect the sharpening job by focusing your attention on the task at hand. Accessing a flow state could also lead to creative breakthroughs in other areas of your life.
Final Thoughts on How to Sharpen an Axe
Sharpening an axe is a critical process that workers must occasionally engage in.
A sharp axe will make your life much easier, as it will cut through materials effortlessly. A dull axe, on the other hand, could make your work more inefficient.
Luckily, there are many tips you can follow to make this process as smooth as possible.
Acquiring supplies like a file or stone grinder is a critical step. Being patient, enlisting the help of another, taking breaks, and minimizing your stress levels are also important, as these will optimize your state of mind throughout the project.
Your state of mind is connected intimately to your body. By optimizing your state of mind, you can ensure that your body is functioning optimally as well, which is key when doing detail work like axe-sharpening.
It’s especially important to get into flow, as this is a state in which each person performs their best. If you have an axe-sharpening business, then this flow state could be especially important for helping you establish a good reputation.