Scouts most often use hand axes to complete conservation projects on trails and in campgrounds. Occasionally, they also use them to split cut wood into handling. To keep an ax safe and effective, it must stay sharp. Here’s how to sharpen your ax.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO SHARPEN AN AX
- Mill bastard file that is 8 or 10 inches long
- Leather gloves
- Knuckle guard
- Two wooden pegs or tent stakes
- Log about 6 inches in diameter
Check your file: The lines across the face of a file are its teeth. They angle away from the point, or tang. A sharp file will be flat gray, not shiny. A silvery shine means that a file has broken teeth and won’t work very well.
WHAT YOU’LL DO TO SHARPEN AN AX
1. Safety first! Wear leather gloves to protect your hands as you sharpen an ax with a file. Make a knuckle guard by drilling a small hole in a 3-inch square of leather, plywood, or an old inner tube. Slip the hole over the tang (or pointy end) of the file and hold the guard in place with a file handle. You can buy a handle at a hardware store or make one from a piece of wood.
2. Brace the ax head on the ground between two wooden pegs or tent stakes and a log about 6 inches in diameter. Another Scout can help hold the ax steady.
3. Place the file on the edge of the blade and push it into the bit. Use enough pressure so that you feel the file cutting the ax metal.
4. Lift the file off the ax as you draw it back for another stroke. A file cuts only when you push it away from the tang. Dragging the file across the ax blade in the wrong direction can break the teeth and ruin the file.
5. Sharpen the ax with firm, even strokes. After you have filed one side of the bit, turn the ax over and do the other side. Use about the same number of strokes.
6. Remember that a dull edge reflects light and will look shiny. Keep filing until the sharpened edge seems to disappear.
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