Sunday, September 02, 2007

How Sharp Does an Axe Need To Be?

Is this an easy question for someone out there? I've played and played with my Delaronde forge bag axe and dutifully put marker on the edge and sharpened it with a mat and wet and dry paper. The edge is sharp enough to split wood and will chop but when you look at the cuts it makes they are not smooth but quite ragged.
I've used everything I can think of on the axe from paper to stones and strops - it just doesn't ever get really sharp. I'm still waiting for the Mors Kochanski sharpening video which will hopefully reveal something but I'm pretty disappointed with a beautiful looking tool which just can't seem to do its job. Every other tool I have is shaving sharp yet this axe seems to resist all my efforts.
I've come across this video from the A-Z of bushcraft on axes.

Whilst the fiskars axes will do everything shown here the delaronde axe won't do the carving cuts or push cuts and it is an effort to get it to stick in wood - essentially it is too blunt. Any advice or help is welcome but otherwise I'll be saving for a Scandinavian or Marbles axe in order to get something more traditional.


torjusgaaren said...

I've cut trees with axes that were more closely resembling a hammer due to their bluntness. Even if I prefer a sharp axe, I usually don't keep my axes at prime sharpness. Very sharp edges are neccesarily weaker and a failed blow hitting a rock will be much more devastating on a sharp than a blunt axe.

Keeping them razor sharp is also a lot of work. If you use antler axes you will need to sharpen the edge almost all the time to keep it at an optimum. Because of that I almost never do that.

sam_acw said...

I guess I'll have to just try and get used to it until I can afford something else that looks right. I know what you mean about the weakness of thin edges as the fiskars axes usually need to be straightened out again after use.
Maybe I should just get a stone one?

Pablo said...

It's nice to have a sharp axe, but after all, they're for chopping green wood (hardly a chore - unless it's ultra thick) or splitting dry wood. That's it really.
I know the guy in the vid. Great bloke, and very knowledgable but I've been told circular motions don't sharpen too well.
Diagonal strokes with a diamond whetstone will do the trick.
Just my opinion. Having said that, I just can't get my golok sharp at all!

sam_acw said...

I've been using wet'n'dry and an arkansas stone. A very cheap sharpening kit that has worked well on everything else.
Thanks for the help Pablo