To sharpen a wood splitting axe, you will need a few tools and follow a step-by-step process. Here's how you can go about it:
- Gather the necessary tools: You will need a file, a vice or clamp to secure the axe, a sharpening stone, and a pair of safety gloves and goggles.
- Secure the axe: Clamp the axe head securely in a vice or use a clamp to attach it to a stable surface. Ensure that the axe handle is firmly held and won't move.
- Inspect the axe: Check for any nicks, chips, or deformities on the blade. Use a wire brush to clean off any dirt and debris from the blade.
- Establish the angle: Determine the angle at which the blade should be sharpened. Most wood splitting axes have a bevel angle of around 25-30 degrees.
- Start file sharpening: Using a file, begin sharpening the blade. Remember to follow the original bevel angle. Apply pressure on the push stroke and lift the file slightly on the return stroke. Work your way along the edge, filing each section evenly.
- Check for burrs: After filing, examine the edge for any burrs - small raised metal edges. Gently remove any burrs using a flat file or a honing stone. This will help in achieving a sharper and smoother edge.
- Use a sharpening stone: To further refine and hone the blade, use a sharpening stone. Wet the stone with water or oil (depending on the type of stone) to provide lubrication. Hold the stone at the determined angle and move it in a circular motion along the edge. Repeat this process on both sides of the blade until you achieve the desired sharpness.
- Test the edge: After honing the blade, carefully remove the axe from the vice/clamp. Use a piece of paper or a small wood chip to test the sharpness by slicing through it. If you are satisfied with the edge, you can now reassemble and start using your sharpened wood splitting axe.
Remember to prioritize safety during the entire process by wearing protective gloves and goggles to prevent any potential accidents.
Is it better to sharpen a wood splitting axe by hand or using a machine?
Both hand sharpening and using a machine to sharpen a wood splitting axe have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Hand sharpening allows for more control and precision. It ensures that you can add the right angle and shape to the edge of the axe. Additionally, hand sharpening allows you to remove minimal amounts of material, which helps maintain the overall shape and weight balance of the axe. This method is also more portable and requires fewer tools, making it convenient for quick touch-ups in the field.
On the other hand, using a machine can be faster and more efficient, especially if you have multiple axes to sharpen. It is particularly helpful for removing larger amounts of material if the axe is very dull or damaged. A machine designed specifically for axe sharpening can produce consistent results if properly used. However, it requires an initial investment in the machine and may not be as precise as hand sharpening.
Ultimately, the choice between hand sharpening and using a machine depends on personal preference, skill level, and the condition of the axe. If you are comfortable and confident in your hand sharpening skills, it may be the better option. However, if you have many axes to sharpen or prefer a faster method, using a machine can be a good choice as long as you take care to maintain the axe's original shape and angle.
Should I remove the axe head from the handle before sharpening?
It is generally recommended to remove the axe head from the handle before sharpening. This allows you to work on the blade more effectively and prevents accidental injury. It also makes the sharpening process easier and provides better control over the blade. However, make sure to follow proper safety precautions when removing and reinstalling the axe head to avoid any mishaps.
Does the type of wood I split affect how often I need to sharpen the axe?
Yes, the type of wood you split can affect how often you need to sharpen your axe. Softer woods like pine or cedar are generally easier to split and cause less wear on the axe blade, so you may not need to sharpen the axe as frequently. On the other hand, hardwoods like oak or hickory are denser and tougher, requiring more force to split, which can dull the axe blade faster and necessitate more frequent sharpening. Additionally, certain types of wood may contain abrasive elements like sand or grit, which can further accelerate the dulling of the axe blade. Therefore, the type of wood you split can impact the maintenance needs and frequency of sharpening for your axe.