Sharpen Hatchets and Axes With a File
You don't need a power tool to
sharpen hatchets or axes—all you need is a
sharp mill bastard file with a handle. Buy a good-quality file, and pick up a file brush while you're at it. Use the file brush to clean the metal filings from the file's teeth to keep it cutting well.
Clamp the hatchet, then file the edges, following
the original angle. The file cuts only on the push stroke, so don't go back and forth with a sawing motion. Start your stroke on one end of the blade and push the
file up and across, applying a little pressure. Make three or four passes on one side, then do the same on the other side. Keep the number of passes equal for both sides. File until the edge is uniformly sharp. Look directly at the sharp edge with a strong overhead
light. Dull spots will show up as bright reflections.
File hatchets or axes used for cutting or felling wood at about a 25- to 30-degree angle on each side. Splitting axes work better with a blunter angle, so for them, increase the angle to about 35 to 40 degrees. Filing will get your hatchet or ax blade back in shape, but if you want it really sharp, you'll have to follow up with a stone or diamond hone.