For cutting or splitting small quantities of wood quickly, neatly, and economically, there is no better tool than an axe. This ancient tool has maintained its relevance through the ages and today is still a reliable addition to workshops and campsites.
But axes are expected to do a lot of work and can become dull in just a few sessions. As long as you have a couple of basic shop tools, you can sharpen your axe. In less than 15 minutes, you’ll be up and running again and chopping wood.
Why It’s Important to Sharpen Your Axe
Experienced cooks know that a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife. That’s because more pressure has to be exerted on the knife to get it to work. With axes, much of the same theory applies.
When splitting a log with a sharp axe, you expect to raise the axe and then swing it down with a certain amount of force. As the axe dulls, you are forced to strike that wood with increasingly more force—until the point where it’s more about a blunt force than about a sharp edge cleaving the wood fibers.
When to Sharpen an Axe
Sharpen your axe prior to any wood cutting session or at the beginning of fall or winter. Axe-sharpening should not be only an annual event. When cutting wood, frequently stop and run your finger along the edge of the axe to assess its sharpness.
If you are working too hard to chop the wood, this can physically take a toll on you. A good axe strike should be mostly propelled by gravity, with the weight of the axe head and its sharpness doing most of the work.
Sharpening an axe is dangerous in many ways. Always wear hearing and eye protection. When running the grinder, make sure that you know how to use the grinder and have read all safety instructions that can with the product.
Make sure that you have no loose clothing, hair, or jewelry near the grinder. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and shoes. Before you touch the grinder to the edge of the axe, ensure that you will not be in the direction of the hot metal filings. Wear gloves when hand-filing the axe. After sharpening the axe, be careful about running your finger on the edge.
Source: The Spruce