Sharpening Safety: Axes

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by sm, Jun 10, 2012.

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  1. sm

    sm member

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    I saw the results of someone not using safety in sharpening an axe.
    Nasty.
    Still he was lucky, and will have a "hard row to hoe" for a bit, still will recover.

    I volunteered to finish the sharpening for him. I simply wanted to, and quite frankly wanted the challenge and...sounds dumb, still therapy in doing so.

    I used to have some heavy leather, with a slit, in which a file was used through in sharpening an axe. I often just used a file(s).
    Yes, even with the protection of using a file through a slit in heavy leather, I also wore leather gloves.

    Axe head was clamped with a "C" vise. My vise has been borrowed from the barn, so I used the clamp.
    What I really prefer is a vise, that rotates. I can "flip the axe head over" more easily to sharpen.
    I used heavy cardboard with a slit in lieu of leather, and wore leather gloves.

    Yeah, while it is just an axe, be this a camp, boys or full size, an axe during sharping can and will do some serious, serious hurt, even permanent injury.

    Let us be careful out there - Hill Street Blues

    Sending best,

    Steve
     
  2. zhyla

    zhyla Member

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    Maybe I'm too inexperienced at axe sharpening to know any better, but how does this differ from sharpening anything else in a vise? I haven't thought twice about sharpening my axe or machetes in a vise. Seems safe enough to my naive mind.
     
  3. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    I C-clamp them to the work bench and file till I get the edge I want. Any Edged tool needs due care to sharpen and not get hurt. Dad told me a man in the Delta of Eastern Ark lost the toes off of his foot because he was messing with a double bit ax and was BARE-FOOT!!!!!!
     
  4. Readyrod

    Readyrod Member

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    I've seen the same thing happen to someone sharpening a scythe. Nasty. I put some kind of guard on the file now, even if it's just a handle.
     
  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    For years I could not sharpen an axe and I felt that the only way to do a good job was with a grinding wheel. But I have had good success with a portable Smith brand (I think)diamond hone with the handle on it on the coarse side. I carry this in my field bag when I am on jobs for touch ups on my knives and machetes.
     
  6. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Hmmmm, I never tried that, but I have seen it. It makes sense that a slip when sharpening could be a big problem since you're leaning into the task. I just clamped mower and axe and other big tool blades in a vise and rough filed or touched up with a ceramic rod.
    Embarrassing that a professional safety guy wouldn't think to do that.
     
  7. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    Some times hso we all have what my dad calls brain farts and do things we KNOW we should never do!
     
  8. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    We have all heard the old knife safety rule: "Never cut towards yourself."
    There is an inverse rule for dealing with fixed blades such as table saws and it is:
    "Never push toward the blade." If something gives suddenly or you slip, you get cut. Is this the rule that your friend broke? Did his hand slip into the blade somehow? My brother-in-law learned this one the hard way with a table saw.
     
  9. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    Table saws are a different breed altogether. I have some scars from working with them.
     
  10. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Member

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    This is the beauty of having this collective intelligence here, I suppose, HSO.
    You either listen to old man SM now, or you hear his voice in your head right after you slice yourself.

    I had some old railroad guys teach me that trick, and a couple others, when I started playing around with broadaxe, adze, and froe years ago. Same warnings and more or less same technique described.
    I worked back in the woods with these tools on log cabins all alone, so I listened and luckily didn't run out of luck when working.
    Seen a lot of nasty scars around the woodworking and cabin building community. Being OCD about safety around blades is nothing to be ashamed of, whatsoever. Spending the rest of your life explaining how you lost the function of a hand (because of sliced tendons or whatever) is much more difficult.

    Edit: However, dull tools will get you hurt or killed too. So, don't be daunted by sharpening or having sharp tools to work with. Just exercise caution.
    Some of the old railroad guys I knew used to place bets on whether or not a guy could split his work boots from the sole using an adze in just one stroke without nicking the foot inside. Don't be that guy, but aspire to that level of confidence in sharpening and tool usage.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  11. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    Most people now days probably don't know what an adze is.
     
  12. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

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    No, but it's one of a handful of cool Scrabble words that I keep handy.

    Another is "zax." Awesome word. And it's a cutting tool.

    :D

     
  13. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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  14. JimStC

    JimStC Member

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    I sharpen my axes on a wheel bench grinder. Doesn't seem dangerous to me. What am I missing?
    BTW I get a very sharp cutting edge
     
  15. spyder1911

    spyder1911 Member

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    If you need a guard when sharpening with a file then you are pressing too hard or moving the file too fast.

    Being slow and careful will work out for much better results in the long run.

    Also using the "sharpie trick", coloring in the blade to see what has been sharpened and what still needs to be sharpened, is a great aid.


    Be very careful and always be aware where the axe will go if the grinding wheel grabs it and flings it out of your hand
     
  16. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Member

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    Depends on what you use your axe for, and how you use it, JimStC.
    Lots of people use a grinder with a sharpening wheel or just an abrasive stone to get their axe sharp.

    For antique or higher end axes, or axes used in fine work applications like woodworking or fine hewing, a hand finished edge can be a better choice for the user, depending on what they prefer.

    I wouldn't say you're missing anything. There's just more than one way to skin a cat.
    Here's a nice vid on the g/b sharpening stone method.
    Some use a bevel gauge like this to keep different tools at the proper bevel when they sharpen, and some don't.
    If you just use an axe to chop roots or split small pieces of wood, you can have a broader range of methods. I'd still wear leather gloves when sharpening, even with a bench grinder. But, I'm not your mother, am I? :D
     
  17. JimStC

    JimStC Member

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    Lesson well taken. I will use leather gloves and take this a lot more seriously.
    Thanks guys,
    Jim
     
  18. content

    content Member

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    Hello friends and neighbors// I have taken to wearing "Whizard, Silver Talon" cut resistant gloves. I have no stock in this company but they are worth a look.;)

    Good thread and great reminder. Any sharp metal needs to be respected.

    Nothing against leather but these are harder to cut.
    I work with thin, lazer cut, Stainless Steel and it has no conscious.
    These gloves are flexable but hard to cut even if you try to slice them with a knife and perfect for sharpening things.

    Be careful and good luck out there, you don't want to gain a lot of experience quick by making a mistake with an AXE.
     
  19. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    Leather Gloves , a file and a round stone that has course and smooth on opposite sides.
     
  20. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Member

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    In addition to the Whizard mentioned above, several companies make a stainless "chainmail" glove for fileting fish.
    If you don't feel like a leather glove will protect you, these are around the 20 dollar mark and should, unless your axe is made of adamantium, protect your mitts in all ways a blade can damage them aside from crushing. :)
     
  21. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    You also have to remember that a sharp axe or hatchet carelessly transported in a vehicle can cut you if you don't see it and there is no sheath or guard on the blade. Oh, that is just common sense, right?

    I think the best advice is to do your sharpening slowly on axes and pay attention.
     
  22. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    There are good spectra and kevlar woven cut resistant gloves available in prices from $5 a pair and up. I recommend getting a coated glove because it enhances your grip.

    I don't recommend a glove with power tools due to the potential for the glove to be snagged or grabbed and cause a more severe injury.
     
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