You’ve gone out and bought yourself a nice Gransfors Bruks or Council Tools Axe, you’ve chopped down a dozen trees. But now, you need to sharpen your axe. Unless you’ve been handling axes and knives for years, you may need to brush up on how you actually maintain your tool.
Axe sharpening is a necessary part of your tool’s upkeep. A dull axe takes more force to split wood, and can even be dangerous to use. A well-honed blade will make sure that you’re getting powerful cuts, and is even a vital part of axe restoration if you want to pull out your old tool.
Whether you’re honing your competition throwing axes or touching up your favorite viking axe, you need to take care of your equipment. In this guide we’ll cover some of the best options for sharpening stones for axe maintenance, as well as how to maximize efficiency when you sharpen.
Our Top Recommended Sharpening Stones
When you’re looking at a sharpening stone, you have to understand what your tool needs. If you have an old, dull blade, you want something really course. If you want to take a tool like the Husqvarna Carpenter’s axe and make it ultra sharp, make sure your stone has a 6000 grain side.
These are just a few of the options out there, but they cover something for every craftsman’s needs. Whether you need to make your axe ultra fine for precise work or you want to touch up your splitting maul, one of these stones will get the job done for you.
Premium Knife Sharpening Stone Kit, ASEL 4 Side Whetstone
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
- Material: Abrasive ceramic
- Grit: 400/1000 2000/5000
- Price: $42-$50 (Check current price here)
This is one of the best all-around stones for sharpening your axe. It’s actually 2 separate stones, giving you a total of 4 sides to use. One stone has 400/1000 grain while the other has 2000/5000 grain, making it a good purchase for all-around axe maintenance.
This is a whetstone brick, so you have to get it wet to use it, but it has a bamboo base to prevent slipping while you sharpen your axe. It’s great for sharpening axes, scissors, knives, and more, so consider it if you want a versatile option.
The only major drawback this tool has is that you can really only get a lot of use out of 2 of the sides. 400 grain sharpening stones are too coarse for anything finer that a maul. It’s good for restoring your old tools if it’s been a few years since their last sharpening, but that’s it.
The 2000 grain side is a bit redundant, since you have a 1000 grain side. It’s good for certain types of chef’s knives, but not really useful for wood work. The 5000 grain is the maximum, which is pretty good, but not as fine as other options.
Helko Werk Axe Sharpening Stone
- Weight: 6.9 ounces
- Material: Ceramic Silicon Carbide Abrasive
- Grit: 120/320
- Price: $40-$53 (Check current price here)
This next option comes straight from an axe-manufacturer, Helko Werk. This is the smallest sharpening stone on this list, and is designed specifically for axes. It’s got 2 sides, with one 120 grit and one 320 grit side, making it great for mauls and extremely dull blades.
This axe sharpening stone is made of a ceramic silicon carbide abrasive material that has a small, round shape. It’s easy to hold in your hand, which is ideal for axe sharpening, since you typically hold the stone while you sharpen.
This sleek stone is the only one on this list that doesn’t require water to work. It can be used completely dry, but Helko recommends lubricating it with oil. This just prevents it from heating up and getting caught on the knicks of the blade.
The biggest drawback comes from the stone’s limited grit size. It only has 2 options, with the finest option being 320 grit. This means that it only works when you’re trying to do some basic sharpening for very dull blades.
This stone is ideal for mauls, splitting axes, and felling axes, since those tools don’t need to make precision cuts. The 320 grit side will be used for maintenance, while the 120 side will be used for restoration.
Chefic Whetstone 2-in-1 Sharpening Stone
- Weight: 1 pound
- Material: Corundum
- Grit: 3000/8000
- Price: $15-$24 (Check current price here)
Chefic is not a name known throughout the axe and forestry world. Instead, they operate in the culinary space, making stones for ultra-sharp knives in the kitchen. But you may want to consider this option for your own backpacking, hunting, and camping gear.
This is a whetstone that has a fine 3000 grit side, and an extremely fine 8000 grit side. It’s not a tool for your maul or your old rusty splitting axe. This is the stone you’ll turn to when you have a hatchet you use for finer cuts and carpentry work.
The 3000 grit side will do most of your fine sharpening. With kitchen knives, you want to always have them as sharp as possible, so you see more high-grit sharpening stones to make sure that you can always get the fine cut.
The 8000 grit side is ideal for daily upkeep, getting the cutting blade of your axe from sharp to sharper. It won’t restore a dull blade, but will get your axe razor sharp. This is perfect for bushcraft axes for cutting brush and even carving wood.
The primary disadvantage of this sharpening stone is that it doesn’t have any course edges. So while it makes your axe ultra-sharp, you can’t do basic sharpening, which really limits the usability of this stone.
Premium Knife Sharpening Stone 2 Side Waterstone
- Weight: 2.1 pounds
- Material: Aluminum Oxide
- Grit: 1000/6000
- Price: $30-$42 (Check current price here)
This is, hands down, the best sharpening stone for axe maintenance. The double sided Sharp Pebble sharpening stone has a grit of 1000 and 6000. These are the most versatile grades of fineness for getting an incredible chopping tool.
The 1000 grit side is perfect for doing some basic sharpening, working on any tool. Follow it up with the 6000 grit side to get an incredibly sharp cutting edge that will move through the wood with ease.
This is a whetstone that requires water to use, but it comes with a base that will prevent it from slipping if you decide to place it on your table for sharpening. Plus, it comes with a free guide for getting the best angle when sharpening to maximize sharpness.
There’s not a lot of downsides to this sharpening stone. It’s biggest pitfall is that it can’t really be used on extremely dull blades. But if you’re regularly maintaining your axe, or you want to fix up a blade that hasn’t been sharpened in awhile, this is the way to go.
What to Look for in a Sharpening Stone
There’s actually a lot to sharpening stones that you need to consider. The shape, the grain, the weight, and whether or not it’s a whetstone will all alter how you use it to sharpen your axe. If you aren’t paying attention to even one of these, you can make the wrong purchase.
Most stones are designed to sharpen a range of tools, including knives and axes. Because of this, they have a brick-like shape. You then run the blade across the stone while it’s sitting on the table. But you can also get handheld stones that you use to rub on the blade yourself.
Most stones are whetstones, meaning that you need to run them under water to get them wet before you can use them. Most of the options on this list will be whetstones, with the notable exception of the Helko Werk stone. This stone can be used dry or lubricated with oil, but doesn’t need water.
The primary thing you need to look for when you’re buying a sharpening stone for axe maintenance is the grain size. Most stones have 2 numbers in the name, each referring to the grain sizes on each side.
The grain size tells you how fine the stone can sharpen your axe. Lower numbers are less fine, while higher numbers will make a much finer blade. So make sure that you’re using the right grain size based on your axe’s needs.
Which Sharpening Stone is Best?
As we’ve mentioned, the best sharpening stone for axe upkeep is the Sharp Pebble option. It’s incredibly versatile, and the 1000/6000 grit is perfect for any all-around sharpening. If you’re looking to keep your tool in great working condition, this is the way to go.
If you have a special situation, you may want to go with another option. Having to restore an old, very dull axe will work best with the Helko sharpening stone. It’s perfect for heavy duty sharpening for blades without a point.
If you have an axe you use for fine, precise cuts, you may get some use out of the Chefic option’s 8000 grit side. This will get the finest blade, which is great for carpentry, carving, and other nimble cuts.
But for all-around use, you want to go with the 1000/6000. In nearly any sharpening situation, this is the way to go.
How to Use This Sharpening Stone
There’s a couple of effective ways to use this sharpening stone. The first step is to submerge it in water to make sure that the entire surface is wet. Typically, you’ll want to hold the axe in one hand and the sharpening stone in the other with the 1000 grit side touching the blade.
Move the stone in a circular motion at a narrow angle. You can refer to the angle guide to determine what angle you need. Do this for both sides of the axe, and then repeat the whole process with the 6000 grit side.
You can also leave the stone on a table and move the blade across it at a narrow angle. You can use vice grips to hold it in place, or try to use the base that comes with the stone. But it’s generally advised that you hold the stone in your hand.
Keeping Your Axe Ready for Use
When you rely on an axe for work, whether it’s recreational or professional, you need to make sure to maintain it. Sharpening is just one part of keeping you axe durable, but it’s one of the most important things to do.
The Sharp Pebble 1000/6000 double sided sharpening stone is the best option for making sure your tool is ready to go. By using this sharpening stone you’ll have an axe that’ll always be felling trees.
Also, check out this guide to find out how to sharpen an axe using a belt sander or a file.
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