How to sharpen an axe or Hatchet

How to sharpen an axe or Hatchet? It’s Various Methods & Techniques!

The sharpening axe is very necessary for safety reasons. A dull axe is useless for working purposes and as it results in serious damages. How to sharpen an axe is an easily answerable question in the recent period due to the development of advanced methods. There are multiple ways or techniques in modern times to sharpen the axes. Axe Sharpening Tools include a horning stone, a file, and a strop.

And in case of an extreme dull axe, a mill bastard file can be used for the best result. Utilize a leather strop for completion of the sharpening process after using file finish in a puck or flat style medium or next to a fine hone.

The wood cutting tools comprise both axes and hatches that have been utilized for ages. Due to their similar outlooks, one can think these tools are interchangeable. But in reality, both of them are different from each other and designed for their respective function. Today's axe and hatchet contain a steelhead fixed with a composite handle or a wood. Hatchets are prepared from a single steel piece like an Estwing.


Axe Sharpening Kit

This is designed for axes that make the sharpening process very easy. One can also use it for hatchet or hawks of different sizes or shapes. The axe sharpening kit comprises of the given items;

  • For V grind sharpening, a straight guide rod
  • Instruction manual
  • Stone carrier
  • Axe sharpening fixture
  • A radius convex guide rod
  • One XXC-100 grit diamond stone
  • One fine-grit hard Arkansas stone
  • Sharpie marker, shop rag & bottle honing oil

How to Sharpen an Axe by Using Distinctive Steps

We use different techniques and equipment for this purpose. The axe sharpening tools include file Clamp, grinder, Hearing, protection & safety glasses. How to sharpen an axe by following different steps:

Save Your Hands & Face

Save Your Hands & Face

Pay attention to the following steps to avoid any damage or injury:

  • Use the gloves made from leather.
  • If the finger guard is absent in your file, then cut the slit in such a way to fix it onto the file.
  • Utilize the safety glasses to avoid metal dust.
  • Wear the dust mask in case of hand sharpening, or if you are using powder tools as axe sharpening tools, you need a respirator.

Clean & Polish

  • The possibility of any rust on the axe, clean it by using steel wool or eraser.
  • Use the sand with silicon carbide sandpaper or coarse-grit aluminium oxide. You need to apply pressure on the axe head then rubbing to the hammer end.
  • Again start this process with finer-grit sandpaper.
  • And for best polish, use the extra-fine sandpaper and repeat this step. You can also use metal polish plus rag.

Clamp the axe

For the easier filling, clamp the axe horizontally and in the vertical way as it opens the alternate sides. The horizontal clamping allows you to keep the file parallel to the table by tilting axe on the angle of 20 degree or 30 degree. This is a useful and easier way.

Choose a bastard file


The best option for most of the axes is a 25-30 cm or 10-12 bastard mile file that is single cut, coarse and slightly tapering. Its shorter form does not have a similar density of teeth. For hatchets, you can utilize a smaller mill. In the first part, use the file card for cleaning clogged file teeth. And in the matter of new file, rub soft chalk over the file to save it from clogging.

The bevel of the Axe

Most of the axes consist of a slightly convex edge with an angle of 20o-30o. The most favourable for frozen wood or hardwood are broader or convex edges because the curve forces the wood to keep it away and save the edge.

File with a smooth movement

Keep the filehandle in the palm with the thumb of your hand on the top. Around the tip of the file, curl your hand's fingers.

File again and again against a fan-shaped area:

On the blade, produce a fan-shaped curve by changing the initial point of the stroke; at the top of the axe head, start about 5-7.5 cm. Avoid creating contact with the blade because it will stop the sharpening process and destroy the file. Utilize a wire brush or file card to reduce metal particles from your file when buildup happens.

Change to the next side

If you experience or feel a burr, change the side of the axe and again start this process on the other side of the edge. Frequently changing sides in this process will result in smoother or even edge.

Use a bevel gauge to measure the edge:

It is also known as sliding bevel and use the protractor to fix it according to your angle then slop it over the axe edge.

Various Methods of Sharpening Axe

 The solution to the questions like How to sharpen an axe and what techniques or methods are necessary to achieve this goal are enlisted below:

1. Sharpen an Axe with Power Tools


This method is the best way to make the axe perfect or sharp within little time. If you pay no attention to the sharpening can, it will lead to the destruction of your axe. Belt sanders, dremels, and angle grinders are the items of this procedure.

2. Sharpen an Axe with Stones


How to sharpen an axe with stones like rock or river stones is a very simple method. River stones are favorable in this process. Initially, use the coarser stone and wet it or blade then create the top of the circular motion to bottom of the length of the blade. Hard sandstone is also best for sharpening the axe because of its amazing features.

3. Sharpen an Axe with a File

The file works as to giving the edge shape or profile. The best for it is between the lengths of 200-300 mm (8-12 inches). The perfect length is necessary for firm grip, and it is formed in Europe, Portugal, Mexico, and China. One can handle the file in the classic style by using one hand and also gripping the filehandle in the other hand while its tip in the right hand or in a sweeping motion pulling towards oneself.

Sharpen Hatchets

Sharpen Hatchets

This is useful wood cutting equipment for craftsmen who have desired to harvest their own wood. Extra strength and energy are required in case of using dull hatchets. There are different methods to sharpen a hatchet is like using files, whetstones, and grinding wheels and rotary tools to sharpen hatchets. 

Following are their explanations:

1. Files

The best way to sharpen a hatchet is the use of a mile file or simple file. Between your knees clamp the hatchet’s head with an outward blade or keep the file’s end along the axe blade at an angle similar to the bevel. You can draw the file against the blade in lengthy strokes using smooth or stable pressure. Sharpen the other side of the hatched by repeating the process.

2. Grinding Wheels

This is the classic tool because by using it, you can do both the tasks at one time like keep the very sharp edge on the blade plus avoid the deformations from the blade. The positive point of using grinding wheels as compared to the files because it takes only a few minutes while the file does the same work in half an hour.

For an extremely dull blade needs grinding wheels to the proper functioning of the blade.

Keep the blade along with the grinder flat at an angle similar to the bevel. Draw it to the wheel to sharpen the hatchet completely.

Don’t forget to use safety goggles because of the sparks to avoid any serious injury.

3. Whetstones

The use of files to sharpen the hatchets is common, but some works need the extra edge. For this purpose, we use whetstones; it is mostly used for sharpening the knives. Put a whetstone on the desk or other flat objects and keep the hatchet's blade on the stone at an angle roughly similar to the bevel.

Put the hatchet’s blade along the whetstone. Apply a dozen strokes on the side of the blade then repeat it on the other side.


4. Rotary Tools

There are some people having grinding wheels and other types of heavy equipment. The rotary tool attached an aluminium oxide grinding or a grinding wheel use as the alternative to the grinding wheel.

Its use is very easy as compared to other tools. The rotary tools differentiate from others as it clamps the hatchet and works the grinder along the blade. Again, use safety goggles or gloves for protection.



Various types of equipment like clam, file and others are used to sharpen the axes or hatchets. Different methods like using stones, Dremel tool and other power tools. It is necessary to sharpen your axe or hatchet for smooth working because its dull form only enhances the burden.

Precautions or safety measures like the use of goggles or gloves are also needed in the process to avoid mishaps.

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