Re: How To Sharpen An Ax?
- From: Neon John <no@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2008 00:49:46 -0500
On Sun, 6 Jan 2008 21:41:40 -0600, budd1y1@xxxxxxxxx (Ronny TX) wrote:
Well then,it seems I need someone to tell me how to sharpen one the best
way. :-) And thus,why I asked in here.
Just ignore the pecker-heads. This group is infested with 'em, unfortunately.
And it has been years since I've needed to use an ax. And years back too
since my Dad sharpened our ax. So on most things I simply used a large
pair of lopping shears,a bow saw or a Sawzall,if I thought that was
I did see someone sharpening their two bitted ax the other day on a
electric grinder and that may be fine? But it seemed a bit of overkill
to me. Wasn't sure though and I'm still not. For the ax I have is pretty
blamed dull. So I have been tempted to use the grinder first and then
the hand file to finish things off. Just didn't want to use the
grinder,if doing so would take off more metal than need be? Can't see
any good in that,if such produces too much waste of metal on a good ax
How you sharpen an axe depends on what tools you have or are willing to buy.
At the bottom end is an ordinary mill file for rough sharpening and a whetrock for
finishing. A round rock held in a GLOVED hand is the usual form. This results in a
slightly rounded convex surface which IMO, isn't the best for cutting.
At the top end is a water cooled slow speed wheel. A large diameter wheel properly
used will slightly hollow-grind the blade. That is, the blade gradually tapers
behind the edge and then quickly widens out. The radius of the wheel is ground into
the edge. Hollow grinding provides a narrow leading edge which lets the axe enter
the wood easily and then offers a shoulder to quickly initiate the split. And for
chopping, the hollow grind cuts dapper than a rounded edge because less wood has to
In between the two techniques are things like bench grinders and even hand-held angle
grinders. Both are generally too high speed and will de-temper the edge ("burns"
it). A de-tempered edge will either dull quickly or chip, depending on whether the
overheated edge is allowed to cool naturally or is quenched.
When I can't get to a wet wheel, I use an angle grinder operated at low speed. I use
an inexpensive "router speed control" like Harbor Freight sells for $10-20, depending
on sale prices. I clamp my axe in a vice with a wet sponge backing the other side to
help keep it cool. I operate the grinder at only a couple hundred RPM and stop often
to make sure the edge is remaining cool.
Final touch-up is done with a whetrock. A properly sharpened axe will almost shave.
If you don't wear a glove when whet-rocking, you'll discover how well it cuts hand
flesh too :-) I use a lightweight kevlar knife-proof glove like poultry workers use.
A leather-palmed work glove will work too if you're careful.
After using just about everything on the market, I've come to the conclusion that the
solutions to wood splitting are: a) a hydraulic splitter or b) even better, a
Stickler http://www.thestickler.com/. I've owned one of these since the mid-70s and
absolutely love it. I've cut and split a 10 cord pulpwood truck load of hardwood in
If I had to use something that I swing, I'd go with the Stotz. If you get one, be
sure and get the Stotz brand. Northern Tool (I think) sells a ChiCom knockoff that
is awful. Unbalanced and the grip is so large that I can't get even my huge hands
comfortably around it.
John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
http://www.johndearmond.com <-- best little blog on the net!
Tellico Plains, Occupied TN
Democracy is three wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper.
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