How to Care for a Hand Axe

What You'll Need
Steel Wool
Machine Oil
Flat Metal File
Metal Wedge or Shim

A hand axe, like any other lawn or garden tool, will perform better and last longer if you take proper care of it. The three basic care factors are to keep the axe clean, to maintain a sharp cutting edge, and to protect the axe from damage resulting from exposure to the elements. This article will introduce some of the most popular tips for the care and maintenance of hand axes. Following these suggestions will not only make your hand axe last longer, but will make it perform better as well.

Step 1: Cleaning the Axe

Never chop into the ground with a hand axe. Doing so can cause blade to chipping, sometimes referred to as cupping. In the same manner, iut is important to keep the blade and handle free of rust or dirt. To clean it, use a piece of steel wool and rub the axe head down in circular motions. To clean the handle, use steel wool or a fine grit sandpaper. Use something similar to a 220 grit paper, as leaving marks in the handle will result in blistering as your hands drag across the small scratches.

Step 2: Sharpening a Hand Axe

To sharpen a throwing axe, place it in a vise with the blade pointed upward. spray or wipe the cutting edge with a machine oil. Using a flat metal file, sharpen the blade slowly. Start at the heel (bottom) or the axe blade, and make each filing stroke reach all the way from there to the toe (top) of the blade. Always file from the body of the axe head towards the cutting edge, and never file using sawing motions. After 10 to 15 strokes on one side of the blade, reverse it and repeat the process on the other side. Continue filing and reversing and filing again until the desired sharpness has been reached.

Step 3: Axe Shrouds

To protect a camp axe, one of the best ideas is to use a shroud over the axe head when it is not in use. Generic shrouds are available at most sporting goods stores, and custom designed shrouds can be made from cloth, leather, or some other material. Leather is the preferred shroud material because it is very resistant to tears, cuts, and the effects of weathering.

Step 4: Hand Axe Maintenance

After sharpening the blade of a hand axe, coat it again with machine oil, or spray it with WD-40. Not only will this treatment protect the blade from rusting, it will also increase the effective of the cut, allowing each stroke to reach deeper and cut smoother than if the oil were not used at all.

Step 5: Proper Hand Axe Storage

Always coat the blade with oil before storing it. Place the axe head into a sheath or shroud, and keep the entire axe in a safe, stable location. Avoid storing a hand axe in area that are exposed to weathering, including extreme variations of heat and cold. If your axe is below freezing temperature, heat it before use. Cold metal blades are more likely to chip or cup than a blade at room temperature, so warming the blade before use will actually help to keep the hand axe usable for a longer period of time.