Axe Grinding: This Is How To Do In 14 Practical Steps!

Axe Grinding: You own an ax that you use regularly, but slowly you are dissatisfied with the results? Then you should get a look at the blade!

If it is full of nicks or minor damages, it can no longer work properly and can even become a danger in a terrible condition. 

It is noticeable on all axes, even models primarily used for carving. 

If you have never had to sharpen an ax before, it is good to have a manual that informs you about the necessary angle for sharpening and the appropriate grinding tools.

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The best way to sharpen your axe

The best way to sharpen your axe in summary
Axe Grinding – The best way to sharpen your ax in summary / Image by Peter H from Pixabay

To grind your ax, you can use various devices or tools:

  1. Do not sharpen your axe at a right angle.
  2. A forest axe is getting sharpened at an angle of 50 degrees, a regular axe at 40 Gard.
  3. If you use a belt grinder, first fix it upside down on vice.
  4. The grain of the sanding belt should be 240 or smaller to achieve a good result.
  5. You can then guide the cutting edge of the axe over the belt grinder at the correct angle.
  6. If you are using a flex or angle grinder, guide the tool over the cutting edge at the correct angle at short intervals.
  7. Careful working is critical here. If the axe heats up too much due to the rotations, the cutting edge will dull further, and you will have achieved the complete opposite.
  8. It is best to cool the metal at short intervals with cold water or a cooling battery.
  9. Sandstone is another option.
  10. It must be used wet for it to have a grinding effect.
  11. Move the stone with circular movements along the cutting edge.
  12. You can also sharpen your axe with a fine-toothed flat file. File both sides and the cutting edge of the axe equally.
  13. If you want to be on the protected side when sharpening your axe, there are axe sharpeners available in specialist shops or the Internet.
  14. Alternatively, you can also have the axe sharpened in a hardware store. Often this service is even free, or only a small fee is getting charged.

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Tools for axe grinding

Tools for axe grinding
Axe Grinding – Tools for ax-grinding / Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

To sharpen the ax, you need appropriate tools and some utensils to ensure a safe procedure without complications. These include:

  • Stone for grinding
  • Flat file
  • Belt sander
  • Sanding belt: 240 grit or finer
  • A bowl of water
  • Grinding stone holder
  • Safety goggles
  • Protective gloves

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Natural stones were getting used in the past, but these are only partially available in their natural form. Nowadays, numerous products are getting offered by a variety of manufacturers. 

The grindstone is necessary for the fine cut, and a belt grinder replaced it. The following materials are available for the grindstone:

  • Sharpening stone – especially suitable for tools, can be used with or without water, no real sharpened cutting edge.
  • Diamond grinding stones – exceptionally long life, cannot be ground hollow, requires water.
  • Belgian grindstones – known as Belgian lumps, hardly need any water to work with, excellent cutting edge.
  • Ceramic grinding stones – well suited for tools with more rigid steel, requires water.
  • Japanese grindstones – known as Japanese water stones, require a lot of water, extremely useful in sharpening.

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For sharpening an ax outdoors, use diamond and ceramic grinding stones, and whetstones are beneficial. These are very long-lasting and ensure a not too thin cutting edge; they are perfect for axes. 

In contrast, you should use Japanese water stones and Belgian chunks for axes suitable for more delicate work such as carving. The cost of the individual grindstones is highly dependent on the quality and the respective grain size.

The right angle for grinding axe

The right angle for grinding axe
Axe Grinding – The proper angle for grinding ax / Image by klimkin from Pixabay

The angle is crucial for the success of ax sharpening, as the blade can only penetrate the wood without problems if the right one is getting used.

The different grades are getting based on the use of the ax:

  • Axes for typical work: 30°
  • Axes for splitting hardwood: 35°.
  • Carving axes: 25°, more rarely 30°

If you do a lot of activity with your ax, an angle of 30° is recommended, as we can use it for many types of wood. The grinding angle is much smaller since carving or fine woodworking requires accuracy rather than raw, centered force.

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The grade is composed as follows:

  • An angle specification covers the entire cutting edge.
  • A grinding angle of 30° corresponds to 15° on both sides of the cutting edge.
  • The cutting edge is correspondingly thin and sharp and thus entirely created for use due to the same angular size.

Many people ask themselves how the corresponding angle size is getting achieved. The use of a ruler is not getting recommended. For centuries a trick has been used for this purpose, which also works well with kitchen knives in Japan.

Before you start sharpening, you should:

  • Place the edge of the axe on the grindstone or belt grinder.
  • Now place a finger about 2 cm flat behind the cutting edge on the surface.
  • Lower the ax with the blade and position it on your finger.
  • Now hold the axe in this position and carefully pull the finger back.

This angle corresponds to about 15°. Of course, be careful not to switch on the belt grinder while your finger is under the blade.

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Instructions to grinding axe

Instructions to grinding axe
Axe Grinding – Instructions to grinding ax / Image by Alexey Hulsov from Pixabay

Once you have obtained the right angle, you can now sharpen your ax. Proceed as follows to sharpen your ax:

  • If your ax has deep embrasures or abrasions, it is getting recommended to use a file to prepare the blade beforehand. Clamp the axe in a vice and work the edge with the flat file until the deep embrasures and notches are no longer visible. It is only necessary not to change the cutting radius, as it is difficult to sharpen it back into the correct shape.
  • Now follows the first sharpening to bring the previously sharpened cutting edge back into the correct shape. Wet the blade of the axe with sufficient water and start the belt grinder. Hold the step a little lower and begin working the cutting edge with the angles mentioned above. Follow the original shape of the cutting edge, preferably in slight circular motion. It will prevent the axe from becoming too straight, which would significantly reduce its effectiveness. Stop from time to time, check the blade, and wet it with water. The heat development is right, the cold wet helps.
  • After you have worked on the blade with the belt grinder, the fine grinding follows. Position the grindstone on the holder and moisten the surface with water. Soak Japanese water stones for three minutes in a water bath. Now use the same angle specifications again and move the axe quickly over the grindstone. Start from one end of the cutting edge and pull it in a semicircle over the grindstone to the other end. Repeat this on both sides until the edge of the axe is sharp but not too thin.

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Remember that you are dealing with an efficient cutting tool when working with the ax.

Wear sturdy shoes and cut-proof pants when grinding the ax. It will help you avoid injury if the ax slips out of your hand while grinding.

Use safety glasses when working with a belt grinder, and use hearing protection when using an angle grinder.

Work gloves protect your hands from injuries caused by the blade and tool.

Especially when you grind your ax for the first time or the grinding is done outside in the forest, for example, a small first aid kit should be handy.

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Last Updated on 23/03/2022 by Buzz This Viral