Four Ways to Sharpen Your Knife, Axe, and Splitting Maul

Photograph courtesy of Patrik Nygren/Flickr FILES Good for fixing nicks and bent edges on mauls or axes. Use a mill … Continued

Photograph courtesy of Patrik Nygren/Flickr

FILES
Good for fixing nicks and bent edges on mauls or axes. Use a mill file, which has rows of teeth running in one direction. Grades are bastard, second-cut, and smooth-cut. USE: Place the head in a vise, edge up. Draw the file downward (perpendicular to the bit) while pushing forward. Repeat in swaths until you have a consistent edge on one side, then do the other.

STONES
Lower-grit stones (24–35) are useful for removing nicks on knife blades, or for sharpening chopping tools. Higher grits (120-plus) are best for honing knives. USE: Drip 20-weight oil onto the stone, then rub the edge of your tool across its surface in a circle. After eight or 10 passes, flip it over and do the other side.

STEELS
Use after every few cuts to restore a knife to sharpness. USE: Place the tip of the knife against the tip of the steel and push down and forward. At the end of the stroke, the base of the knife should touch the base of the steel. Do the same thing on the opposite side of the steel. Repeat six or eight times.

LEATHERS
Leather strops put a razor edge on a knife after you’ve sharpened it on a stone or steel. If you can’t find one, use an unpainted leather belt treated with neat’s-foot oil. USE: Draw the blade toward you and away from its edge, alternating sides.

Properly Sharp Note: Edge bevel is determined by the angle of your blade during sharpening.

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