How to Sharpen An Axe? All You Need to Know!

Alex Clarkson
Alex Clarkson

You’ve found your axe to be blunt. And you can hardly use it for any purpose. Because it’s too dull and rounded up.

It’s the most upsetting when you’re planning camping. Because axes are basic when it comes to camping. 

So you’re here searching how to sharpen an axe?

First, take a rectangular stone that’s diamond coated. Then rub it on the axe head for 20 minutes. Once you’re done using your leather belt. Just rub the axe on a triangle shape. Or you can use axe files to sharpen it. Then rub in a circular motion with an axe sharpening stone. Finally, just slide it over a leather strop. And your axe will be sharpened.

So it was just a concise answer to your question. But this detailed article is all you need. So just scroll through.

How to Sharpen An Axe Using Items from Your Home?

It can be that you’re not looking for some professional stuff. And simply want to sharpen your axe using the easily available options at your home.

To be honest, at times, we do the same. Because not always you’ll like to buy all the expensive tools to sharpen a regular axe. Why do you even need it while you can go for the cheap and easy method?

Well, let’s tell you one thing. You may have a preference for ways to sharpen your axe. But there are some essentials you’ll need. But considering you own an axe, you might already have the tools.

So let’s tell you what you’ll need-

  • Leather Belt
  • Rectangular shaped diamond-coated stone

Before diving into the axe sharpening process, we have something to tell. You see the axe hook is not plain, rather it’s a bit curved. You might not see it at first. But you can always touch to feel the curve. Just roll your fingers from the higher end of the hook to the lower end. And you’ll find a curve.

The reason why we talked about the curve will make sense in a bit. So as we said, you’ll need a rectangular shaped diamond-coated stone. We prefer using one that’s diamond coated on one side. And graphite on the other. 

But you could use one with a simple diamond coat. So now remember the higher and lower point we talked about?

It’s time to revise that. Because you’ll have to hold the stone to the higher point of the axe hook. Just hold the stone in a manner that it looks like a triangle.

The higher-end will join with one end of the stone. A triangle will be formed. Now by maintaining this triangle, rub the stone. You’ll need to rub it in a circular motion. Staring from the higher end to the lower end, just rub.

After that, turn the axe upside down and follow the same process for this part as well. Now repeat. You’ll need to frequently change sides. Because we’ve learned from the experienced ones. That changing sides frequently is the best practice. It helps with the sharpening.

So now, you’ll get a sharpened edge. But it’s not smooth yet. So what you need to do is smoothen the edge. 

For that, take your leather belt. And tie it with your wall hanger. You’ll notice that the belt has two sides. One is sort of fluffy and the other one is plain.

So when tying make sure to put the fluffy part above. So that we can use it to smoothen your axe.

Don’t just scream yet. We know how expensive leather belts are. And we don’t want you to spoil that just for an axe.

So we need you to trust us and see how we guide you.

Remember the triangle position we talked about? If you do, that’s great, because you’ll need that knowledge. So put the sharp end of the hook above the fluffy leather belt side. So the sharp end will be touching the belt. And you’ll see a triangle shape forming in between.

Now maintaining the shape, slide the axe hook down. One important thing is that you need to stretch the belt. And hold it with one hand. And use the other hand to slide the hook over it.

Stretching the belt will ensure that it’s straight. So when you slide the axe, it won’t cut the belt. Repeat sliding for both sides of the axe for 5-10 minutes. 

And you’ll end up with a perfectly smooth and sharpened axe. Now chopping wood for the fireplace will be a lot easier.

How to Sharpen An Axe Like A Pro?

Sharpening the axe like a pro is a big deal. And especially when you’re looking for some professional work to do, it’s serious work. 

So professional work means professional types of machinery. Speaking of types of machinery, do you know how to make a brush axe?

Or maybe you’ve tried making one by yourself before. Because in that case, you’ll have some of the tools.

If you don’t have them, let’s tell you what you need.

  • Circular rubbing stone
  • Axe rubbing nail
  • Leather strop
  • Axe holder/clamps
  • 3 in 1 oil
  • Wooden table

Now that you know what’s needed. Let’s drive you through the process. Just follow the steps and you’ll be good.

Step 1 of 6: Attach The Axe with A Clamp

First, you’ll have to put your axe on a wooden table. Here, it’s important to take a wooden one. Otherwise, a glass table might break. It’s because of all the pressure you’re about to put on it.

Now get your axe holding clamps. You can put one or two depending on the axe size. Put the axe handle between the clamps. Then make sure it’s straight.  Finally, just adjust and fix the clamps.

So no matter how you rub it, it will stay in place. On top of that, your hands won’t be occupied holding it straight.

You might need to readjust it until it’s perfectly straight. Once you’re done, move to the next step.

Step 2 of 6: Rub with The Axe File

You’re wanting to sharpen your axe probably because it got some nicks and dings. As well as deep ugly scratches. So to remove that and sharpen, use an axe file.

It’s not too different from a nail file. The only difference is it’s made for axes. Hence it’s harder and heavier.

So your clamps are holding the axe straight. All you need to do is focus on the axe head. As it’s not sharpened enough, the edge of the head is not much visible. So you have to find it out by filing.

For the first 3-4 filings, be a bit slow. File it in one way. We’ve seen people filing it like crazy back and forth. But we don’t recommend that.

Instead, we’re suggesting to file one way. For instance, file one side from right to left and another side left to right. So once you file it nearest to the edge and, you’ll find the curve. It will start to show after 3-4 filing strokes.

Once the edge is visible, you’ll see that it’s curved. And then just follow the curve and slide the file as you’re doing before. But a bit faster this time. Change the sides every 3 minutes. Otherwise, one side will be sharper than the other.

So don’t keep filing one side for longer. And start changing sides. Carry on this for 15 minutes straight. After that, you’ll see the axe edge is clean and sharp.

Step 3 of 6: File The Corners of Axe Head

You’re now done with filing your axe. And it looks good and sharp. But wait before you get too happy. When you touch the corners, you’ll see that they’re not sharp enough. The middle part is much sharper than the corners.

Do you know why it happens?

It happens because when we file, we put a lot of pressure on the middle. Hence the middle part gets sharp. As soon as we reach the end, stop and start sliding to the other corner. So the corners get a bit ignored.

But we’ve got a solution for this. Now, you’ll have to file the corners only. And avoid the middle. Make sure to do it for both sides. Just file within the corner area. By that, we mean slide the file one way. And repeat it only to the corners instead of sliding it to the other corner.

And you’ll end up with a sharp axe. But it’s still not smooth. For that the next step is important.

Step 4 of 6: Use A Stone to Rub

By now, the axe is pretty sharp. So we recommend using thick gloves while working.  Thus you can avoid unnecessary incidents.

So put your gloves on. And take that circular shaped tiny axe rubbing stone. These stones are super useful when it comes to sharpening the axe. And not much expensive so you can carry them with you.

So first put some 3 in 1 oil on your stone. Then put the stone above the axe head.

It’s time to rub that in a circular motion. Make sure that we rub with the stone’s rougher side.

Keep rubbing for 10 minutes. You can be as fast as you want. But don’t get hurt in the process. As you’re wearing gloves, safety is ensured. But when rubbing fast, do have a tight grip. Otherwise, the stone can fall on your feet.

So be careful about that. Just as before, rub on two sides of the axe. Now again, put some 3 in 1 oil directly on the axe. And rub the stone for 5 minutes on each side.

You’re done rubbing it in a circular motion. Now just like the file, slide it from one corner to the other. It will make sure that all the places are refined equally.

And we’re done here. Because the edge is refined now. But as we’re trying to make it professional, we need to make it perfect.

So just follow the next steps.

Step 5 of 6: Unlock The Axe Handle from The Clamps

This is the easiest step ever. All you’ll need to do is take out the handle of the axe from the clamps.

But it’s a separate step because it surely has some significance. While unlocking it, you’ll need to be cautious unlike when you locked it.

The reason is, now the axe is sharp enough to cut through your skin. So just make sure you keep your head and hands safe while removing the axe. What we do is, take one clamp out at a time.

Once one is removed, we push the axe head a little back inside the table. And remove the other clamp. Then put the axe in the middle of the table. Take preparation for the next step.

Step 6 of 6: Rub it Over The Leather Strop

So take your leather strop and put it on the table. Now just hold the axe handle smoothly. Put one hand on the handle to hold it. And use another hand to pressurize. Then rub the head to the strop.

So just put the axe head in an angle over the leather strop. Make sure to rub it one way only to both sides. And the sliding should be really smooth. 

Once you’re done, you’ll see that the axe is sharp. And it’s clean as new. It will be smooth and ready to cut anything that comes in the way.

How to Sharpen An Old Axe?

how to sharpen an old axe

When it comes to an old axe, we imagine a rusty and nicked axe. And that’s totally true. But to fix and sharpen it is a hard process. But surely not impossible. Though it takes a bit of time, it’s worth it.

Before going to sharpen it, we need to get rid of the rust first. And that’s the hard job.

First, bring a large pot and fill it with white vinegar. Then dip the axe head on it for 3-4 hours. After that, rub it with steel wool.  And you’ll see most of the rust coming off.

Wear gloves while rubbing the vinegar-soaked axe. Because vinegar is too acidic and can harm your hands and nails.

If all the rust didn’t come off on the first attempt, try again. Mostly after the second attempt, the rust comes off. Then just wash it naturally.

After washing if you still see rust, there’s an alternative method. For that, take a bowl and add 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup water. Now mix them to make a paste. Now just make a fine paste.

It’s time to rub this paste with a toothbrush over your axe head. Once you’re done, you’ll see the results by yourself.

Or you can just buy WD40 from an online or physical store. Spray it over the rusty axe head. Then wait for 30 minutes. After that, wipe it with a cotton cloth. You’ll see the remaining rust coming off.

Also, the head will be cleaned.

Now you’re done removing the rust. So you can go for any of the mentioned ways to sharpen the axe above. And you’ll end with an axe that’s good as new.

But if that’s too rusty, you might think of buying a new one. But take some time in finding the best brush axes. So that you get the one that serves your purpose.


Question: Is it a good idea to throw old axes?

Answer: No, it’s a bad idea. You know there’s never an axe old enough to not be eligible to get fixed. With the right knowledge of sharpening, you can turn any axe into a new one.

Question: How to remove rust from the old axe?

Answer: You can use citric fruit or vegetables. For example, take half a lemon and cover it with baking soda. Then rub it over the rusty axe. And leave for an hour. Then try to wash it naturally.

Question: How sharp an axe should be?

Answer: An axe should be sharp enough to shave. Of course, we don’t encourage that. But it should be sharp as a blade that cuts tiny hairs. Only then it’s sharpened properly.


We see that you’ve followed us till the end. You know everything on how to sharpen an axe. So it’s time to say goodbye.

But if you have anything to share, feel free to comment. Because we’re all ears. 

Good luck and Bye!

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