How to Sharpen an Axe - Picture Heavy

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Feb 22, 2012
Good article by the way - thank you. I just adapted it to the tools I have: a 10" mill b@stard file and an 8inch 2nd cut file, assorted inexpensive artificial stones from very coarse to quite fine and, the secret weapon, a little 250 grit Stoneycraft wet sharpening wheel.

I am currently sharpening a small (600g/1.3lb head), cheap hatchet for carving. It was unusually blunt but showed potential, being relatively slim bladed and with an unusually long, curved bit, extending above the top of the axe handle, as well as "flaring out" down below in the usual manner. It's not a side axe but I guess I could make it somewhat asymmetrical. I just got a reasonable edge on it -- probably took 2 hours, so far, over 2.5 days (that's how you grow to appreciate those craftsman sharpened Swedish axes I suppose :D). I was aiming for a straight grind, or as close as I could achieve but inevitably it is somewhat convex.

Both hatchets than I sharpened recently get thicker in the middle of the blade - unlike Kent pattern designs, where a flat blade (like a billhook) is, I believe, "welded" to the poll/eye end (I'm trying to use the terminology from your helpful diagram).


Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 6, 2011
East Sussex, UK
I had some good results today by clamping the poll in a vice with the blade horizontal. I then used a leather strop, smeared with Farecla G3 a bit like a wood plane, if that makes sense. We'll find out tomorrow whether it's sharp enough!


Feb 24, 2013
Dalarna, Sweden
Great thread again, British Red. Thanks.

I haven't had to sharpen my small forest axe yet as it's quite new, but when I do I plan to go the Gränsfors puck route. It seems the original natural sandstone one was quarried in Gotland, Sweden, but I've read that this stone is running out and they've switched to a man-made ceramic one with "comparable properties". Does anyone have any comparisons/comments on the differences of these two stones? Wondering whether I should grab a natural one while stocks are still about.

Hope this is relevant enough to not count as thread-jacking :)


Jun 5, 2013
Great tutorial. Just so I'm really sure and don't make a mess of my new axe, does the leather for polishing go on a sanding block with the mousemat backing or one without? I don't want to accidentally round off my nice edge.


Jamie N

Oct 11, 2012
This all makes sense and I have no doubt that it works. However, I bought a Hultafors axe which came sharp enough to shave with (well, almost). I have kept it sharp by frequent use of a Fiskars ceramic sharpener of the type you draw the blade through. This seems to be working perfectly, although I realise that if I nick the cutting edge, I will need to get a bit more drastic. So far, I have managed to avoid this.
Great article; I enjoyed reading it.


Full Member
Jun 29, 2012
thank you for this good tutorial! I have the Gransfors puck which does a brilliant job in getting a razor-edge. I have never used files before but I now might give them a try to do a more complete job on the axe before it is too late.


Full Member
Jul 19, 2014
Stradishall, Suffolk
I enjoyed reading this and took the advice on how to do it apart from one bit..... the gloves!

So I was being really careful not to stab myself with the file until I suddenly found out that's not what the gloves where for, it was to stop me from hitting the axe blade with my hand! The only plus side was someone recently told me to use super glue to stick yourself back together and after the amount of cuts I have received from my whittling knives I thought I would give it a go. To my surprise it didnt sting, stopped the blood and dried in 30 seconds (above my head).

That aside there is something humbling about being able to start to see your reflection appear in the edge of the blade.

As said in a previous post, be careful not to "stump" or "gouge" with your file as it is very difficult to remove the ding. Not to mention very dishdisheartening!

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