Sharpening An Axe With A File

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It is likely you’re going to need your axe, especially during the cold weather period. They are essential for several different projects you might be involved in. Of course, none more popular than cutting firewood, right? Yet it might be dull so sharpening is essential. Did you know that many are now sharpening an axe with a file these days?

It actually works very well and you’re going to get a tremendously sharp axe out of it in the end.

Some may question the validity of file-sharpening, but it works well and you’re not sacrificing the blade of your axe by doing it. In the end, this is the main thing to consider. The blade won’t be compromised, which is all we’d worry about.

The real question is how you’re able to sharpen with a file. We felt that you might need a few pointers on how to do so, which is why we decided to put together an entire article on how.

That said, let’s jump right into it!

Sharpening An Axe With A File

When it comes to stuff you’ll need to do this, you’ll need an axe and a file. Now you’re done, see, that was simple, right? Of course, you could also get a bench vise. This will keep your axe in place as you sharpen it up.

That can be useful because you won’t have to worry about it going anywhere. Experts recommend using non-marring jaws. If you do not have a bench vise, then something like C-Clamps can also be useful too. It’s really up to you here.

Keep in mind what shape your axe is too. The Round Bevel-Edge & Straight Edge are the main two we know of. However, if you know of other types then let us know.

That said, you can decide to file your axe in two different ways. The first is the Push File Method, while the other is the Draw File Method. Both are well-liked by people that file their axes regularly, so we will be going over these methods only.

Push File Method

The Push File Method is a terrific way of sharpening an axe with a file. There are some positives and negatives to this method, but you’ll find a lot more positives if you ask us. It is the most commonly used and probably the one you’ve seen in play on TV shows and movies.

You simply push the file over the bit to sharpen the cutting edge. Each move you make using the file will indeed remove some metal. But this is the dull bit you’re no longer wanting on the axe, of course.

Your only goal here should be to keep everything even so that you do not compromise one side over the other. This can become a problem down the line, so it’s best to get ahead of it.

Draw File Method

The Draw File Method is a slightly more advanced way of sharpening an axe with a file. In this method, you have a little more control. You’re going to be capable of putting more force on your file, which will give you the ability to remove more of the dull metal per stroke than the Push File Method allows.

In order to sharpen with this method, you just need to hold the handle of your file in one hand while you put it on the poll of your axe. Of course, the rest of your file should be extended beyond the bit of your axe too.

Now, with your remaining hand, press the file against the cutting edge of your axe. You are now at the point where you’ll want to pull the end of the file downward, which will file the cutting edge of your axe. Then just repeat it.


The methods should allow you to sharpen your axe quite well with the file you decide to use. Of course, once you’re done your axe filing then you will need to clean it off. You will likely have some shavings all over the place and some discoloring on older axes due to the removal of old metal.

Remember to rotate your file clockwise as you’re sharpening and try to keep at a 20 to 30-degree angle in the process. You will thank us later when you get an impressively sharpened axe. We’d also recommend you spend the same time on every angle of your axe.

This is being employed to keep things even. You might think one section is fine and not really in need of repair but go ahead and spend time on that too. This way, you’re keeping it properly sharp at the same level as everything else.

More than anything else, we recommend you use proper gloves while doing this. Even if you have it in clamps, you never know that could go wrong. Having your gloves on might seem troublesome but if that axe randomly moves on you and comes toward your hand…you will be happy those gloves were on.

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