Keeping The Ax Sharp

I have observed many people exerting a lot of unnecessary energy chopping and splitting wood with a dull ax.

If the edge is exceedingly bad, it can be brought back to proper configuration by CAREFUL grinding with a power grinder. The emphasis is on CAREFUL, for if you try to do too much too fast, you can burn up the edge, thus destroying the temper. Once achieving proper edge shape, finishing should be done with a file. Final smooth finish can be done with a hone, but for our use, this is not necessary. The final edge should be roughly a 30 degree angle. A bit more if you are using the ax on hardwood; a bit less for softwood.

Generally, the desired configuration of the edge is a smooth arc such that a line drawn through both ends will meet the bottom end of the handle. Some old axes are so worn and so improperly sharpened that this may not be possible.

Part 3 will deal with replacing a broken handle.

John White
Avalon Forge - Baltimore

"All Manner of Replicas for Living History"

AX Use and Maintenance - Part 2