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How to Sharpen an Ax

Scouts most often use hand axes to complete conservation projects on trails and in campgrounds. Occasionally, they also use them to split cut wood into handling. To keep an ax safe and effective, it must stay sharp. Here’s how to sharpen your ax.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO SHARPEN AN AX

  • Mill bastard file that is 8 or 10 inches long
  • Leather gloves
  • Knuckle guard
  • Two wooden pegs or tent stakes
  • Log about 6 inches in diameter

Check your file: The lines across the face of a file are its teeth. They angle away from the point, or tang. A sharp file will be flat gray, not shiny. A silvery shine means that a file has broken teeth and won’t work very well.

WHAT YOU’LL DO TO SHARPEN AN AX

1. Safety first! Wear leather gloves to protect your hands as you sharpen an ax with a file. Make a knuckle guard by drilling a small hole in a 3-inch square of leather, plywood, or an old inner tube. Slip the hole over the tang (or pointy end) of the file and hold the guard in place with a file handle. You can buy a handle at a hardware store or make one from a piece of wood.

2. Brace the ax head on the ground between two wooden pegs or tent stakes and a log about 6 inches in diameter. Another Scout can help hold the ax steady.

3. Place the file on the edge of the blade and push it into the bit. Use enough pressure so that you feel the file cutting the ax metal.

4. Lift the file off the ax as you draw it back for another stroke. A file cuts only when you push it away from the tang. Dragging the file across the ax blade in the wrong direction can break the teeth and ruin the file.

5. Sharpen the ax with firm, even strokes. After you have filed one side of the bit, turn the ax over and do the other side. Use about the same number of strokes.

6. Remember that a dull edge reflects light and will look shiny. Keep filing until the sharpened edge seems to disappear.

11 Comments on How to Sharpen an Ax

  1. CuriousScout // May 27, 2008 at 4:41 pm // Reply

    How long should I sharpen the knife?Mine become very dull.

    • Sharpen it until it is as sharp as you want it. Differences between people, metals, and stones all contribute to differences in how fast a knife gets sharp, and how sharp it gets. What you consider sharp or dull may be different from what I consider sharp and dull.

  2. great video and tip

  3. Very good videos!!

  4. You can just hold the axe with one hand and sharpen with a whetstone with the other hand if you don’t want to set up the stakes

  5. natitonic the file sharpenz the axe (duh)

  6. our troop always used wetstones for our axes and stuff. but i think i will tell them to try and use a file next time and see how hat works

  7. I never knew you could sharpen an ax with just a filer, log, & tent pegs. I tried it and found out it really works.

  8. it is facinating to learn about it

  9. oh sorry bout that other comment im just fig. things out here

    -Natitonc

  10. no offense but, how do you sharpen an ax bye putting it be hind some pegs and a log?

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