As with any tool, your axe needs tender loving care to remain at peak efficiency. This includes storage, maintenance, and blade sharpening. Here are some maintenance, and blade sharpening. Here are some basics of axe care.


When you purchase an axe, pay particular attention to the handle’s grain. Handles should be made of hickory and have a straight grain running the length of the handle with no run-outs to the outer edges. (Run-outs can cause the handle to split during use.) There should be no knots within the handle. Sapwood handles are better than hardwood, but a mix of both is okay. Treat your handle with linseed oil to seal it after use, as the finish will wear and it will be susceptible to drying out and possibly cracking. How often you do this depends on humidity, temperature, and use.


Caring for the head of your axe is no different than caring for any other high-carbon tool. It will rust, so it must be kept lubricated. Again, I generally, use olive oil for this purpose (although I would rarely use my axe for any food processing); it keeps things consistent in caring for all my tools and metal gear.


 Just as with a knife, there are several tools to use when sharpening or honing an axe. A Carborundum stone with medium and fine grit sides will take care of 95 per cent of your needs, and you can carry a small one in the field. Lansky makes a tool called the puck that is a fine and medium two-sided sharpening tool, about the size of a hockey puck. It works very well. As with whetstones, I prefer to use water and not oil as a lubricant for the puck. When using this type of stone, make circular strokes to sharpen the blade, attending to both sides evenly, with a knife. If your axe gets a bad nick from a missed swing or glance, you may need a fine mill file to remove the nick. Then sharpen it with the stone. When using a file, place the axe in a stable position and push the file with the angle of the grind against and into the blade, or away from it, depending on your preference. To remove these nicks or dings, slow even strokes will be both safe and accurate. Stropping an axe is unnecessary, as a fine stone will make your cutting edge plenty keen. As with knives, grind on axes varies, and following the existing angle is best
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