Simple question: how do I sharpen a hatchet? It's not even close to sharp, so using whetstones would take FOREVER. I don't have nor have ever used a grinder. I'm suspecting that I'll need a grinder or a file (mill, flat?) to sharpen the blade and then use the whetstones to hone it. Is that about right? Any tips on using a grinder or file for this task?
IMHO I would only use a grinder if you have numerous and deep nicks on the edge. If you do use a grinder, take care not to over heat the edge (if it turns blue you have overheated it and it will not hold an edge very long).
The quickest and safest way to sharpen a hatchet is the way I teach my scouts.
First off, wear leather gloves to protect your hands.
Use a 10 or 12 inch tricut flat file. If you have a scrap piece of leather 4 inches or larger in diameter, punch a hole in the center and slip it over the tang (I believe that is what the handle ende of the file is called) of the file up to the body for more protection.
Place the end of the file between your thumb and forefinger. Resting these in the center of the hatchet and using it as a center point for the file, slowly, using your other hand, rotate the file with gentle pressure across the edge of the hatchet.
Watch the edge you are cutting. When you have a good, smooth, continuous edge on this side, flip the hatchet over and repeat on the other. When you have done both sides, you should be able to look directly at the sharp edge, straight on and not see any nicks.
I know that there are probably several other ways, but I think this is one of the safest.
Hope it helps you.
Measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with an axe.
I use my Tormek generally but have used a mill file (##### or smooth depending on how trashed the edge is) followed by oil stones. To get it sharp you will need to run the edge on a stone of some sort, a file is a bit coarse.
If you absolutely need to, use a grinder to get the major nicks out but the important thing is not to over heat the steel,if you do that you'll ruin the temper and then you can just throw the hatchet away. Don't keep the steel on the grinder very long and have a bucket of water nearby and dip it in to keep it cool. If you start getting a discoloration,usually blue, then you've over heated it.
The best way to sharpen an axe or hatchet (if you don't have an $800 Tormek,,I have one and it's awsome) is with a file,you don't have to worry about excess heat or taking to much steel off the tool itself.
How sharp an edge you put on is determined by what you're using it for. For example----- you would'nt want a really sharp edge on a maul to split logs it would constantly get stuck in the end of the log. On the other hand if you're felling a tree you want a sharper edge so you can slice the side of the tree away.
Shape the edge of an ax or hatchet with a single cut mill ##### file. Unlike many woodworking tools an ax or hatchet must be tempered or drawn down past where it's brittle and to where it is tough enough to withstand heavy shock. This means its edge is soft enough to file.
The best technique is to draw file. Turn the file at a 90º angle to the edge and pull or push the file parallel to the edge. Draw filing, when done with a file in good condition, takes fine shavings that look like steel wool and leaves a nice finish on the edge. You may want to give the edge a final polish with a fine sharpening stone. Stones made for axes and hatchets are disk shaped.
Idiots! The forum software edited out the word b a s t a r d because the programer's mind is full of filth. It's not like one can't post the word if they choose, and it has such an important legitimate use. Incredible stupidity!!!!!!!!!!!
AMEN! Lee, please turn the nanny filter off!!!!!! Anybody at Rockler ever read the "Boy Scout Handbook?????" B a s t a r d files are recommended BY NAME for sharpening axes.
Well, Matt, what do we do about kids who might see "dirty words" online. WELL THOSE KIDS ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE PARENTS!!!!!!! *rant over*
B a s t a r d simply describes a file with a slightly rougher cut than a smoothing file. B a s t a r d cut files are usually single-cut. I prefer them to double-cut files because sometimes the double-cut just seems to "bounce" along the edge of the work, where I feel that a single-cut file will "bite" into the work more.
A good file will work for just about any axe. Just make sure that you're taking s-t-r-o-k-e-s in the same d-i-r-e-c-t-i-o-n on each side of the b-i-t of the axe. Also, keep your a-n-g-l-e consistent. After some elbow grease, your axe should be in working order. (It's not a very good description, but it's the best I can do without demonstrating the technique.)
The best primer on Axe sharpening is going to be in the Boy Scout Handbook. Whatever edition is out today should contain the pertinent info.
The belt sander will work, just point the bit of the axe (the part you're sharpening) in the same direction that the belt is turning. Do this for safety and belt wear prevention. Also, watch out for the same overheating problems that you get with a grinder.
I don't know so much about hatchets, but I know a thing or two about felling axes.
If the edge were really dull or badly knicked, I'd shape a new edge profile on a stationary belt sander using a coarse grit #80 or even #60. A coarse belt will dissipate heat faster and is less likely to burn the tool. Then using the same belt, grind new bevels. Then I'd skip all the B A S T A R D S altogether and head straight to a mill file and dress the ground edge. Now with a coarse stone (they make special stones for axes and adzes, they're round). Work the edge in a circular movement, don't cut your fingers. You can stop here, but just once you should try bringing the axe to an edge you can shave with. So hit it with all your oilstones or water stones or diamond stones or ceramic stones or your scary sharp sandpaper system, until the bevel shines like a mirror. It can be done.
You will be amazed, take this new surgically sharp tool and find yourself a little cherry tree, you will whack it down like you were using a laser! Careful you dont cut off anything important. You could even imagine cutting a big tree down with a tool like that!)
Oh and if anyone asks you about the cherry tree you cut down, tell them you don't know anything about it...Nothing but trouble there!