How To Sharpen an Axe Blade

Having a properly sharpened axe is crucial for its optimal performance and longevity. Chopping wood with a dull axe will not only be less efficient but is more likely to lead to injury. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of sharpening an axe at home, providing step-by-step instructions and valuable tips. 

Not only will you learn how to achieve a razor-sharp edge on your axe blade, but we will also explore the cost of sharpening an axe compared to doing it yourself. So, put on your work gloves and let's get started!

Understanding the Anatomy of an Axe

Before diving into the sharpening process, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the various parts of an axe. The blade, cutting edge, bevels, eye, and handle each play a vital role in the overall functionality of the tool.

An axe hitting the bullseye in a throwing competition

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials

To properly sharpen an axe, you'll need specific tools and materials. These include a sharpening stone, honing oil, leather gloves or work gloves, a leather strop, steel wool, and potentially grit sandpaper. These items can be easily obtained from your local hardware store or online.

Preparing the Axe for Sharpening

Before you begin sharpening, take the time to clean the axe and remove any dirt or rust that may have accumulated on the axe handle or axe head. Inspect the axe for any signs of damage or wear that may require further attention.

Hand Sharpening an Axe

  • Securely clamp the axe to a workbench or place it in a sturdy vise, ensuring the blade is facing upwards and accessible.
  • Determine the proper angle for sharpening the axe. This angle may vary depending on the type and purpose of your axe.
  • Apply a few drops of honing oil to the sharpening stone.
  • Holding the axe firmly, position the blade against the stone at the desired angle.
  • Using steady pressure, slide the axe blade along the stone in a smooth and controlled motion. Start from the base of the blade and work towards the cutting edge.
  • Repeat the process on both sides of the axe blade, maintaining the same angle and pressure.
  • Regularly check for sharpness by feeling the cutting edge with your fingertips or performing a paper test.
  • If necessary, remove any burrs or rough edges using steel wool or grit sandpaper.
  • To achieve an extra-fine edge, consider using a leather strop with honing compound. Draw the blade along the strop, alternating sides until desired sharpness is achieved.

Testing and Maintaining the Sharpness

To test the sharpness of your axe, gently run your finger along the blade's edge, feeling for any imperfections. Additionally, perform a paper test by slicing through a piece of paper effortlessly. If the axe is not as sharp as desired, repeat the sharpening process.

How Much Does it Cost to Sharpen an Axe?

The cost of sharpening an axe can vary depending on the method you choose. If you decide to take your axe to a professional sharpening service, the price can range from $10 to $20 per axe, depending on your location and the provider. However, by learning how to sharpen an axe yourself, you can significantly reduce the cost. 

The initial investment in a sharpening stone, honing oil, and other necessary tools may range from $20 to $50, depending on the quality and brand. These tools can be reused for multiple sharpening sessions, making them a cost-effective long-term investment. Ultimately, sharpening your axe at home allows you to save money while ensuring that your tool is consistently maintained and ready for optimal performance.

Safety Considerations

Throughout the sharpening process, prioritize safety by wearing work gloves and protective eyewear. Take extra caution when handling sharp objects and keep your fingers away from the blade's cutting edge.


By following this comprehensive guide, you now possess the knowledge and skills necessary to properly sharpen an axe at home. Regularly maintaining a sharp edge on your axe not only enhances its cutting efficiency but also ensures the safety of its usage. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't hesitate to sharpen your tools whenever needed.

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