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Hatchet sharpening

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by coyotehitman, Apr 21, 2009.

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  1. coyotehitman

    coyotehitman Member

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    I have a couple of hatchets that I would like to put a properly angled convex edge on. Could anyone advise me on the best way to approach this task?

    One is a Gransfors and the other is a Wetterlings, each is a 11-13" long belt hatchet. Primary uses will be backcountry camping and bushcraft.
     
  2. Funderb

    Funderb Member

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    drive two stakes into the ground about 8" apart and parallel in orientation to a log about 3-4" in diameter. Place hatchet between these items, blade up, leaning on the log, use file to begin putting the edge on the hatchet. Remember, it is a wedge, not a knife. 45 degrees should be efficient.
     
  3. conw

    conw Member

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    I don't dabble in exotic edges much, so if you mean what's called an appleseed edge I can't really help.

    I'd do what the guy above said and use a file, BUT I would go for more like 25-27.5 on each side...MAX...because I think it sounds like you have some fancy hatchets that are strong enough to work with a lesser edge.

    (that's about a 50 degree inclusive angle, meaning the bevels make a 50 degree angle with one another)

    The way I would get a convex edge would be, after my file work, to start with 220 grit (maybe even 100 grit) sandpaper on a surface like a bunch of old newspaper, which has some give. Maintain the same 25 degree angle but don't press too hard (don't file too hard either, btw, in the previous step). Just be patient and consistent, get a burr on both sides (this is always necessary when sharpening, especially with angles <30 degrees) and grind it off. Then I'd do more grinding with 220, again raising a burr and grinding it off. Then I'd maybe move up to 320 or 400 grit. Then because I'm a perfectionist I'd probably strop, which will make the edge even more convex if you use an old belt or a nice thick leather scrap :D
     
  4. conw

    conw Member

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    BTW, another advantage for a fancier edge is that they are much more versatile as tools, not to mention more efficient. Provided you are not using them for ridiculous stuff like chopping through drywall, they should actually last *longer* with a more acute (therefore sharper) edge, if for no other reason than you don't have to chop as many times to get the job done.

    Another option other than the stake thing (which slightly confused me) would be a vice grip that you put the hatchet head in, then file away.
     
  5. 7X57chilmau

    7X57chilmau Member

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    Conwict, as I read it, the first response recommended a 45 degree edge, and you did a 50 degree... Not much diff there.

    I put the hatchet bit in my post vice, and use a combination file. Like the others, I aim for a 40-50 degree edge, meaning the file makes about a 20-25 degree angle with the bit's centerline. Try to keep to that angle or less, the natural rocking motion of the file in your hands will make the edge somewhat convex, enough for your task. If you will be doing "rough" work with the hatchet, with stone strikes likely, then a less acute edge will serve better, whereas for carving/shaving use, a more acute edge rules.

    File side 1 until the wire edge grows on the other side, using the coarse side of the file. File side 2 until it matches, and the wire edge is pushed the other way. Switch to the smooth side of the file, and touch up the now completed edge.

    Ultimately, this is an impact tool, and a truely keen edge isn't needed. Files are the way to go. Noone packs sandpaper into the woods.

    J
     
  6. gb6491

    gb6491 Member

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    While it is written more with the ax in mind, the government has made available a very nice on-line reference for this type of cutting tool that includes a section on sharpening: An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual
    Regards,
    Greg
     
  7. conw

    conw Member

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    I may have misread it, I thought he was recommending 90 degrees inclusive. For knives at least most people refer to the "angle from bit to centerline" as 7x57 put it. EG, I grind my knives at 10 degrees or so (20 inclusive).
     
  8. Leadhead

    Leadhead Member

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  9. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Member

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    If you're using the hatchet for field work (limbing, firewood, etc), then certainly the filed edge will work well for you as a way to get it sharp.
    In the woods you can resharpen on a stone. Or you can carry files.

    I'd carry a medium and fine file for sharpening, so you can file out nicks and get it sharp again.
     
  10. coyotehitman

    coyotehitman Member

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    Odd thing is, the manual on the Wetterlings specifically stated not to use a file because it leaves striations that increase the chance of chipping/breakage.

    I have a Gatco/Lansky system and some stones, so I'll shoot for the angles mentioned above.
     
  11. Alchymist

    Alchymist Member

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    Once the hatchet is sharp, I use a scythe whet stone to keep it that way. And when the hacthet or axe is really blunt, I start with a 4 inch hand grinder to rough it into shape. (Slowly, so it doesn't get hot). I have tried grinding with a small diameter fine grit wheel to leave a hollow ground edge, didn't seem to make much difference. A smooth double cut file works for me , then stoning.
     
  12. Big Daddy Grim

    Big Daddy Grim Member

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    I am going to use that never have heard that one.
     
  13. 5knives

    5knives Member

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    coyotehitman,

    Gransfors and Wetterling are good stuff, avoid files, strongly suggest you visit www.bladeforums.com main forum index. upper right side of page Tomahawk and Axe forum, if you can't find a sticky just ask, that forum is full of guys who KNOW axes and 'hawks. They'll tell you all you want to know!

    Regards,
    :)
     
  14. Leadhead

    Leadhead Member

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    Gransfors sells a nice dual sided course/fine natural stone in a rubber puck like case....The stone comes from a specific Island in Sweden and can be used with water or without and won't crack if it freezes..
    [​IMG]

    I've never tried one however as I tend to use the power tool/ file technique described above....
     
  15. Macmac

    Macmac Member

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    Why would avoiding a file be wise?

    I use files all the time to get chips out, and then stone to a polish, but I am after scalps and am not bashing just wood....

    I go for a thinner edge than most guys would want. I like tools that cut deep, and don't use tools like this for splitting wood.

    Splitting tools are another set of tools, and I have them too.

    I could use a new fro soon though.
     
  16. Leadhead

    Leadhead Member

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    I think some people don't know how to use them properly.....
     
  17. Alchymist

    Alchymist Member

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    Macmac, do you use a toand with your fro? :evil:
     
  18. jbkebert

    jbkebert Member

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    May sound stupid but I use my benchtop belt sander. I set the table to a 50 degree bevel and run the hatchet cutting edge into the direction of belt travel. Takes very little time and produces a razor sharp edge that last a long time. I typically use 150 grit paper for hatchets. I do the same thing with my heavy use chisels. Even when on a job site I flip my portable belt sander over and put a edge on chisels to freshen them up.
     
  19. Leadhead

    Leadhead Member

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    Belts work great not stupid at all!
     
  20. conw

    conw Member

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    That's true, but you can still touch up a sandpaper (or whatever) sharpened edge with a file. The sharper the edge the longer it lasts and the longer it takes to dull.
     
  21. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    huh? I do.
    My small hunting pack includes a sharpening stone and a piece of 440 grit wet/dry paper (about 5x9") rolled up with a piece of leather the same size. The leather is a good backing for the paper but also is impreg with a dose of polishing compound. I can restore to a very nice edge on my hatchet or knife in the field and any nicks or chips can wait until I'm home with a benchvise and file.
     
  22. bigione

    bigione Member

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    I don't know how hatchets would be much different than axes. I sharpen my axes to a flat, 10 degree or so edge and they stay sharp on cedar, ash and cottonwood. I hate a thick blade as it wedges and doesn't slice. I take out big chips with this proceedure. I always finish with a file, but use a grinder to take out the hump they always start with. If you don't know, always file in one dirrection only. Never back stroke with a file. It plugs up the teeth.
     
  23. Macmac

    Macmac Member

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    I have no idea what a 'toand" is...

    Around here there are 2 different kinds of trees with wood just about as hard as iron. One is Hoppes Horn Beam, and the other is Shad, like the fish.

    I have a maul of each to drive the fro. My froe used to be a car or truck leaf spring, with the eye cut, rolled tighter, and welded to apx 1 and 1/4".

    I use it to split wood, like was intended for a fro. That to me is long items like bow wood, fence rails, and things not fire wood.

    It was the way wooden shingles were once split too. When I find the right dead ask it will be used to get a axe handle out of that type tree, unless I find a big enough Hoppes.

    I am guessing a "toand" is either a regional term, or a joke...
     
  24. Macmac

    Macmac Member

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    bigione , I guess I am in your school sort of. I prefer a long thin blade with a shaving sharp cutting edge, and thin a store bought blade down rather a lot.

    my axes and hatchets never get near Hemlock knotts..
     
  25. coyotehitman

    coyotehitman Member

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    Thanks 5knives, I'll have to get a membership to that forum.
     
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