Axe grinding – You own an axe 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 small damages, it can no longer work properly and can even become a danger in a particularly bad condition.
It is noticeable on all axes, even on the models that are primarily getting used for carving.
If you have never had to sharpen an axe before, it is a good idea to have a manual that also informs you about the necessary angle for sharpening and the appropriate grinding tools.
A related video about “Make Any Axe Razor Sharp In 90 Seconds” here to watch.
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Table of Contents
Axe grinding – The best way to sharpen your axe in summary
To grinding your axe, you can use various devices or tools:
- Do not sharpen your axe at a right angle.
- A forest axe is getting sharpened at an angle of 50 degrees, a regular axe at 40 Gard.
- If you use a belt grinder, first fix it upside down on vice.
- The grain of the sanding belt should be 240 or smaller to achieve a good result.
- You can then guide the cutting edge of the axe over the belt grinder at the correct angle.
- If you are using a flex or angle grinder, guide the tool over the cutting edge at the correct angle at short intervals.
- 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.
- It is best to cool the metal at short intervals with cold water or a cooling battery.
- Sandstone is another option.
- It must be used wet for it to have a grinding effect.
- Move the stone with circular movements along the cutting edge.
- You can also sharpen your axe with a fine-toothed flat file. File both sides and the cutting edge of the axe equally.
- If you want to be on the protected side when sharpening your axe, there are axe sharpeners available in specialist shops or the Internet.
- 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.
Tools for axe grinding
To sharpen the axe, 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
In the past, real stones were getting used, 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 you should not confuse this with the grindstone from the past, which was replaced by a belt grinder.
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.
For sharpening an axe outdoors or for tough use in the forest, diamond and ceramic grinding stones and whetstones are particularly useful. As 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 angle is crucial for the success of axe 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 axe:
- 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 axe, an angle of 30° is getting recommended, as it can be getting used for many types of wood. Since carving or fine woodworking requires accuracy rather than raw, centered force, the grinding angle is much smaller here. The angle 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 you have your finger under the blade.
Instructions to grinding axe
Once you have obtained the right angle, you can now sharpen your axe. Proceed as follows to sharpen your axe:
- 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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