So I sharpened an axe... ouch

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spandit

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 6, 2011
5,435
125
East Sussex, UK
Those of you that read my thread about my campfire yesterday might have spotted the fact that I dinged my axe on some concrete. Today I set about grinding the chip out. Took a lot of material before I had a straight blade again (angle grinder with flap wheel) but it took on a nice polished appearance and seemed pretty sharp. Could feel a wire edge with my fingernail so decided to strop it, using a piece of leather glued to a flat piece of wood.

With the axe clamped in a vice, I pulled the strop over the edge but when I moved it back for another pass, I caught the end of my finger and went straight through the end of it and the nail. Own fault for not wearing gloves. Finger currently bandaged up and throbbing. Wasn't bleeding too badly but think it will be sore for a while and will probably have a scar.

Wear gloves people.
 
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I'd had my SFA for one day and managed to almost cut the top corner of my thumb off, through the nail and that, chopping a few sticks. It's a lovely axe but I remember the awful feeling every time I pick it up:sick:
 

novembeRain

Nomad
Sep 23, 2008
365
3
38
lincoln
I know it doesn't help much now but my understanding (and whats worked for me for years) of stropping is to go with the blade but dragging slightly over the edge so it kind of snaps the wire off. That's how the belt kind work (to my mind at least): the tension as you press on the leather bends it ever so slightly over the edge but always "dragging" the edge backwards (in your case, poll to bit)

I may of course be wrong though

I use a belt but if I had to use a paddle I'd have the edge facing away from me and use the paddle like a file should be used; press down and push away, lift off the work before returning to the start position and repeat.


As a side note, I too had an incident with an axe I'd just sharpened that resulted in the side of my thumb being glued back on - it wouldn't stop bleeding so they couldn't stitch it.... I now go out of my way to never hold what I'm chopping, even just to stick the wood to the edge before hitting it on a log (which is what I was doing). We learn from these things, at least it wasn't worse.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,264
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I like to strop my knifes with a movement away from my body, with the edge towards me.
Being a bit anal about my hands, I made a protective bar/ ridge between the leather stropping surface and the handle.

I simply pinned and glued a 1.5 x 1.5 cm red cypress wooden bit across.
I used that woid because it is soft, should I be clumsy, then the edge will cut into the wood and stay and not slip and hurt me.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,650
McBride, BC
You process blades from your knees, not from your elbows.
Your media are clamped to the edge of the bench, parallel to the edge.
Stand up, if it is at all possible.

You lock your forearms to your sides, paint the edge with black felt marker and sway back and forth.
Pull strokes only. You must drag the blade. Fairly dim to shove a sharp edge into an abrasive.

I have cards with the correct angles drawn on them so I can follow for a quality edge.

I carve with edges that cost me between $50.00 and $100.00 each. Lots of them.
I was taught correct freehand sharpening and I can't afford to mess this up.
 
Jul 30, 2012
3,571
224
westmidlands
Look on the bright side it could have been your wrist. Sharp thing in vices remain sharp after you move, I think it's a force of habit of usually having the cutty thing in your hand. Once did a little cut whilst undoing the vice with a hand, thought I got off very very lightly.
 
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spandit

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 6, 2011
5,435
125
East Sussex, UK
It's a bit tender this morning but the blood has all crusted up and it doesn't look too bad. Was sore when I dropped a log on it :eek:
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,074
778
Berlin
Why don't you take the time things need?

I sharpen hatchet and knives free hand with a small stone and in the end with a porcelain cup or little plate.
I do it very slowly and get them razor sharp.

In my opinion it's important to see what I doo, so I hold the nose very tight to the work.
I work slowly and get the result very fast.

And a lot of force I don't need too.

Keep in mind:
May bee it's to dull for wood, but it's sharp enough to cut your fingers!
 

spandit

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 6, 2011
5,435
125
East Sussex, UK
Why don't you take the time things need?

I presume you are referring to the angle grinder? To remove that much by hand would have taken days of honing - I took quite a large chip out of the blade. The historical peoples, who many of us seem to be emulating, would have jumped at the chance to use a modern tool. If your life depended on having a sharp hatchet, you'd not have the luxury of taking things slowly.
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,650
McBride, BC
To follow your efforts, draw stripes on the blade with a black felt marker.
An axe is to split, so the wood is wedged open ahead of the blade. Fact.
Wasted effort for really sharp and honed. That's for knives.

Proper camp craft is to split one stick, finger size.
You use that to hold the big pieces of wood for splitting strikes.
We never use our hands for that. Too risky if a long way from home.
 
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Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
2,930
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Exmoor
Axe scar comparisons? My left thumb had a chunk removed and for finger stripped to the bone with a miss judged swipe from an axe while chopping kindling for a morning cuppa. Several lessons learned.
1. Always respect a newly sharpened axe.
2. Take your hand away from the bit of wood you are chopping. Don't hold on to it!
3. Chop the kindling before you go to sleep so that you are not all bleary eyed and sleepy while chopping wood.
4. Pocket rocket works fine for the first cuppa in the morning, is quicker and your hand stays intact!
Safe and happy chopping folks.

The reaction I got at the hospital when asked how I did it was priceless.
How did you do that?
I was making a cup of tea.
How do you use an axe to make a cup of tea?????!!!!!
 
Last edited:
Apr 8, 2009
1,102
75
Ashdown Forest
The historical peoples, who many of us seem to be emulating, would have jumped at the chance to use a modern tool. If your life depended on having a sharp hatchet, you'd not have the luxury of taking things slowly.

That, I think, is an excellent point well made. A natural situation is to use what resources you have about you, an artificial situation would be to ignore some of those most valuable resources. Of course, a lot of bushcraft is about deliberately placing ourselves in an artificial situation, but we perhaps need to be careful that we aren't attaching a somewhat 'holier than thou' attitude to it!
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,264
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
My old friend, 92 last Christmas, has been chopping wood for his woodburner since before he was born.
I have seen him doing it uncountable times. His axe is really, really blunt. I (insulted him) and offered to shrpen it.
You know what he told me?
No thanks, if I miss I will hurt myself badly, which I will not do now.

His ace wedges open the wood. He makes lots and lots of sticks as kindlings.
 

Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
2,930
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Exmoor
Must admit I'm far more at home with a good billhook than a hand axe. I used one everyday while hedge laying and coppicing for years. I can do as much if not more with it. Easy to sharpen nicely which would be done several times a day. Simple ancient woodsman tool. I have 3 but only one hand axe.
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,650
McBride, BC
I have a 3.5 lb axe for splitting wood.
Of course, it's dull. I made it that way. I don't want a cutting edge.
I need a dull edge to wedge the wood open, ahead of the steel.
Hold one piece of wood with another.
Sharp won't work.
 

Tomteifi

Nomad
Jan 22, 2016
294
16
Carmarthenshire, South Wales
Was lucky enough at a summer boot sale last year to notice 3 packs of Japanese fishmongers gloves on a stall. Each pack consisted of one stainless fine chainmail outer glove and one inner Kevlar glove. Got them all for a fiver-pinch, pinch!
I'm no clumsier than the next man (lol) and save for these I wouldn't be ordering five pints by hand on more than one occasion.
They have been superb at totally stopping(bar a direct self destruct herculean hit on my own digit!!) all and every attempt to slice
a piece off myself. I couldn't tell you the maker as absolutely everything on the pack was in Japanese but if you can find anything like them, you won't be sorry in more ways than one! So its a big thumbs up from me-literally. Ah so!
 

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