How to Sharpen Double Bit Axe?

Sharpening axes take a lot of elbow grease, especially if you do it manually. There are different kinds, shapes, and sizes of axes as well. The one we will be talking about now is the double bit axe.

These axes will take about twice the time you take to sharpen a regular single bit axe since the double bit axe has two opposite sides that need sharpening.

There are different methods and different tools you can use to sharpening an axe. The remaining task now is for you to know how to sharpen double bit axes. We will be teaching you just that.

How to Sharpen Double Bit Axe?

You might notice some industrial or factory lumberjack workers sharpening their axes with machines. The machines are motorized grinding wheels meant for sharpening large tools.

But it is not wise to use these machines if you want to keep your axe in its best condition and last longer. As these machines tend to heat the axe's blade, this makes your axe's blade lose its temper because the metal gets weakened.

You should always handle the sharpening of your axes manually by using grinding tools with your arm strength so that you can control the pressure that falls on your axe. Below we will be talking about the steps which you can use to sharpen your double bit axe manually:

  • Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools

The tools you need for sharpening your double bit axe are not that hard to come by. These tools aren't that expensive either. This might be the reason these kinds of tools and materials get sold out soon since almost every lumberjack buys them when they need to sharpen their axes.

So, the various tools and extra materials you will need for this task are gloves, rags, wax, machine oil, axe stone, leather belt, wire brush, and, most importantly, a file.

When you buy the file, it should be a 10 to 12-inch mill bastard file. You will have to choose between a single cut or double cut file in the shop. The single-cut file is the better choice. Make sure the file comes with a handle because holding onto the metal part is risky.

The axe stone should have two grits and should be useable dry as well. This is because it's not often that lumberjacks carry oil or water with them in the woods where they're working and might need to sharpen their axe suddenly.

Now about the machine oil, it should be of the light kind. Heavy machine oil won't be fluid enough to work with. And when choosing wax, beeswax is more suitable for this task.

  • Step 2: Safety First!

This step is where the gloves come in hand. Usually, sharpening an axe with a motorized machine will send sparks flying all over. People wear safety gear like large gloves, goggles, and helmets to avoid any injury from the spinning wheel and the sparks.

You might not have to face that much danger when sharpening your axe by hand. But the gloves are at least needed to protect your hand from the sharp axe blades, and also from the roughness of the file and axe stone, or even from getting your hands dirty from the oil, wax, etc.

  • Step 3: Setting Up

Before you begin your sharpening task, you need to prepare your work area and tools. Clear your workbench and only keep the tools and materials you will need. Place your double bit axe on this bench. To avoid it from being displaced, you will need some clamps to attach the axe to your workbench.

When doing so, make sure one of the edges of the axe is hanging off the work bench's edge. That is the side you will be working on first.

  • Step 4: Begin Filing

Hold the handle of the file in one hand and place the file on the blade's edge. Use your other hand to apply pressure on the top part of the file. The file should be at an angle and not too straight.

Begin pushing the file into stroke motions against the blade. The strokes should follow the contour of the axe bit. Since each edge of the blade is designed into a convex curve, the motions of the strokes should follow that curve.

The reason you shouldn't file in straight strokes is that the file will make rough friction with the blade instead of smooth friction. This will damage both the file and the axe blade.

You also need to avoid filing the two corners of this blade edge. Those parts are not supposed to be used much anyway. But the main reason to avoid it is that the metal in those parts is the thinnest and weakest. If your filing strokes are overdone and too strong in those parts, then it will cause the corners to chip off.

Don't forget to clean the file from time to time to make the stroking effective. This is the part where you use your wire brush to clean the metal filings. It needs to be done after every few minutes of filing.

After you are done with filing one edge's top and bottom side, and once you can feel that the blade is sharp enough, you can flip the axe over to the other blade and clamp it to the workbench. Repeat the same filing method you used for the previous blade side.

  • Step 5: Grind the Blades

Unclamp the axe and hold the axe's wooden handle under one of your arms. Take your axe stone in your free hand. Even though you are wearing industrial protective gloves, you should still keep your fingers off the grinding surface of the axe stone.

Grind the coarse or rough side of the axe stone in circular motions along the blade's edge. This removes any random bumps or dents on the blade. You can blur out the sharp stroke marks on the blade as well when you grind it with the axe stone. Make sure you did this on both edges and all sides of the edges.

Now you can use the fine or smooth side of the axe stone on the blades. This is a sort of polishing technique.

  • Step 6: Stropping

You need to use now the leather belt you have and strop the axe. It's best to hand the leather belt on the wall first. Hold one of the bits of the axe and pull the leather with another hand. You will be using the leather belt as a strop material.

Keep the bit away from you and at an acute angle to the strop. Slowly pull the axe's bit toward you with a bit of pressure. Flip it over and push the bit in the opposite direction. Repeat this for a while.

  • Step 7: Lubricating

Use the machine oil on the blades first and then use the beeswax. This prevents all sorts of corrosion on the metal part of the axe.

Final Words

Aside from using a file and axe stone to sharpen your double bit axe, there are other tools some lumberjacks like using as well.

Some of them are Dremel, ordinary sandpaper, grinding machines, etc. When you have absolutely no tools around, the least you can do is sharpen your axe with a course rock. It isn't entirely impossible.

But if you want to do it the right way and learn how to sharpen double bit axe properly, then the steps above are perfect for you.

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