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HELP: My Axes Are Not SHARP! What to do from here?

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by KiwiBloke, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. KiwiBloke

    KiwiBloke

    389
    Oct 2, 2018
    Well it's true guys, my axes are not very sharp at all and never have been. I have a Lansky Dual Grit Oil Stone that is 120 grit and 600 grit. If the axe is quite blunt after a lot of use I'll take the coarse side of the stone to the bit first, otherwise I just work the 600 on it. After that I use a block of wood and make a few passes over it to strop it/remove the burr and that is it.

    The end result is not very satisfying, I want to get them very very sharp.

    Do I need to purchase a finer stone to then move onto or do I need to get a leather strop and some compounds? Or do I need both??!

    Your wisdom and experience is greatly appreciated here so that I can buy the right tools from the beginning an not learn the hard way.

    In regards to a strop would you suggest a paddle strop or a stropping block?
    In NZ most of the strops available for purchase are designed for knifes and are very thin but there are a few that are much wider which I could imagine would suit an axe edge better. So what width would you suggest is best for stropping an axe?

    These wide strops are crazy expensive for some reason, for example the 'Brommeland Gunleather 8" Double-Sided Leather Strop' is $75USD for me in an NZ store but the same product on Amazon from a US dealer is $45USD. That leads me to my next question, I have seen a bunch of videos and such of guys just using a piece of leather clamped to a bench. I couldn't tell if compound was used or not though. Is that really sufficient? Even if so, Iv'e had a hard time finding leather believe it or not, only from upholstery stores and that stuff is so thin.

    Sharpening stone direction: I always thought that you pushed the stone into the cutting edge; I also did this with my knifes but now am rather confused as I watched a couple of Knife sharpening videos and they exclusively did it the opposite way..?

    For example this 'Sharpening Master' holds the edge of a knife away from himself and using the push pull technique only applies pressure as he pulls the knife back towards himself.



    I have been doing the opposite on both knifes and axes. Is my method wrong?

    Finally, what about the circular motion with the stone, is that effective? I usually start with that and then finish by only pushing the stone into the axe cutting edge. Am I a rubbish sharpener or am I lacking in the right tools to get a razor sharp axe?
     
  2. Curt Hal

    Curt Hal Gold Member Gold Member

    547
    Jul 8, 2014
    I have always liked this video.

    This is the first axe video I ever watched. I watch it a few times a year now.

    I’ve tried this as well. It works.
     
  3. KiwiBloke

    KiwiBloke

    389
    Oct 2, 2018
    Thanks Curt I'll take a look. And yes An Ax to Grind is a national treasure ;)
     
  4. KiwiBloke

    KiwiBloke

    389
    Oct 2, 2018
    Continuing on the direction issue here is a video of Bob Kramer who is certified as a Master Bladesmith by the American Bladesmith Society..He does the opposite direction then the previous 'Master' that I posted? How can two masters have opposite techniques/methods? Am I unveiling here that there is no right or wrong way to take a stone to a bevel? It is becoming to seem like a preference or perhaps simply how they were taught?

    *Sorry I know these are knives and not axes but the principles are the same.

     
  5. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Push the blade into the stone or push the stone into the axe. A circular motion is OK so long as you emphasize the push side of the stone. I'll start form one corner of the axe, heel or toe, and work toward the center. When I cross the center I'll switch the circular direction and emphasize the other side of the stone.

    But before you even get to stone you need to set the correct bevel with files or some other faster metal removing method. What edge angle are you putting on your axes? Can we see what the bit profile looks like?
     
    David Martin and KiwiBloke like this.
  6. KiwiBloke

    KiwiBloke

    389
    Oct 2, 2018
    I will take some photo's in about 12 hours as it is midnight here right now.

    So 3 examples I have a Plumb which I have been doing a fair bit of filing on that's at 27.5 currently but I'm trying to bring it down to 25 degrees for a splitter. A Brades that is at 22.5 degrees and a new GB for contrast that is also at 22.5 degrees. All of them get sharp enough on the 600 grit stone to do work but its underwhelming to say the least, can't push cut paper for example. I'm definitely using more energy and more swings to get the job done than is necessary due to its lack of sharpness.

    I'm thinking I need a finer stone to then go onto or a leather strop perhaps?
     
  7. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Probably just a finer stone.
     
  8. Old Axeman

    Old Axeman Gold Member Gold Member

    784
    Jan 10, 2015
    As I see the cover photo of "An Ax To Grind" video that Curt put up it reminds me of when making that video. I hated using those gloves. I am not much of a glove man anyway, although I wear them for somethings. I was made to do it by my employer, the US Forest Service. And they made me use those terrible Govt. issue gloves!
     
    garry3, KiwiBloke, muleman77 and 5 others like this.
  9. Curt Hal

    Curt Hal Gold Member Gold Member

    547
    Jul 8, 2014
    That’s hilarious. You didn’t look at all comfortable in them! I worked briefly for the Department of National Defence and we had the same gloves.
     
    KiwiBloke likes this.
  10. FLINT77

    FLINT77

    249
    Apr 8, 2013
    I don't think you need a leather strop or compounds or anything like that. I don't have any of that stuff and do just fine.

    All I have is a file and the same stone you have and I can get most of my axe heads sharp enough to shave the hair on my arm. I keep the oil stone in a little tub full of mineral oil. Honestly, often I get the axe sharp enough with just the file, but then feel compelled to use the stone some as well. Pretty much just like in the axe to grind video.
     
    Square_peg and KiwiBloke like this.
  11. muleman77

    muleman77

    412
    Jan 24, 2015
    I just use a file and puck, even once the bevels are set.
    Not a lot of filing needed, but get a wire edge with the file first, then use the puck to work the burr off.
     
  12. KiwiBloke

    KiwiBloke

    389
    Oct 2, 2018
    Thanks for the input boys.

    Does anyone follow Vintage Axe Works? He has a website and other social media but I mainly follow his Instagram. One of the top restorers Iv'e come across online, seriously cool stuff.

    You can see his content here: https://www.instagram.com/vintageaxeworks/ (p.s check out all those heads in the top right video :eek: )

    But please watch this video..
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BrlhfT_BK7j/

    He just uses a dual sided puck so essentially what I have and then strops for 5 minutes and the blade is razor sharp.

    That is what I am after.
     
  13. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    They make thin comfortable cut resistant gloves now. We've come a long way, baby!
     
  14. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    He seems to be stuck on the radial grind. It works but why not match the grind to the axe with a banana, half banana or whatever the shape of the cheeks demands? And 5 minutes of stropping? Really? What for? I can get an axe freaky scary shaving sharp without any strop. Just fine stones.
     
    David Martin, A17 and quinton like this.
  15. Old Axeman

    Old Axeman Gold Member Gold Member

    784
    Jan 10, 2015
    Many years ago I used goat skin gloves when I needed a thin glove that still allowed you to feel what you were doing. Pig (not just for eating quinton) skin is also very good.
     
    quinton, garry3 and KiwiBloke like this.
  16. KiwiBloke

    KiwiBloke

    389
    Oct 2, 2018
    I should message him and ask him? ;) He seems to be super busy and backed up with orders so someone is into it.


    Doesn't a strop with an ultra fine compound on it simulate an ultra ultra fine stone? If he is doing this then I can see why.

    Mate can you please walk me through your method to get it freaky scary shaving sharp with stones? Would be much appreciated. What grits and for how long etc? Lets assume that the filing is done, the bevels are correct..then what? Thank you!
     
  17. KiwiBloke

    KiwiBloke

    389
    Oct 2, 2018
    Hunting through my fathers shed I found this absolute beauty! Norton India combination stone. Never been used. It feels like the course is in between my two grits on the Lansky stone and the fine is much much finer perhaps 800 grit. Stoked to have this in my kit now. I used the finest side and my axes are now sharper than they have been but cannot still cut the hair on my arm or push cut paper. I used a felt tip pen across the cutting edge and worked my way raising the angle of the stone until it removed the pen ink and a half a degree more and stayed there. Not the result I wanted although they are definitely sharp enough to fell a tree and split wood.

    The stone was made in the USA in 1977 says the box.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. quinton

    quinton

    Nov 4, 2006
    I enjoyed some year old, hickory smoked pig for Christmas. If I'd just had some of them big, juicy, and sweet white pineapples instead of the canned generic variety... :(
    [​IMG]
     
    garry3, KiwiBloke, Old Axeman and 2 others like this.
  19. Curt Hal

    Curt Hal Gold Member Gold Member

    547
    Jul 8, 2014
    I’ve often wondered about this, so I’ll ask: does razor sharp really create an advantage? I like very sharp, but have never been driven to “shaving” sharp, thinking it doesn’t last very long or create much of an advantage. What do you guys think?
     
    Square_peg likes this.
  20. quinton

    quinton

    Nov 4, 2006
    About 30 minutes for both bits profiling with 2 Simonds files, a double cut, and a nucut, then removing the scratches with sandpaper. I just went to 360 grit, then buffed. A scalpel ain't this sharp. It scares me!
    [​IMG]
     
    Nbrackett, KiwiBloke and Square_peg like this.

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