How to Sharpen a Hatchet

For those of you who are gearing up for your next camping trip, or are just looking for a guide on how to sharpen a hatchet for some DIY work around the home, take a minute to read this article so that you can be up-to-date on how to perform all of the best methods safely. After all, we all want to make sure that we’re getting the most out of our personal hatchet, but not endangering ourselves to do so. By the end of this read, I can assure you that you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge you’ll need to make your thoroughly used hatchet look and operate like it’s brand new.

Fastening your Hatchet with a Clamp or Vice

A variation of clamps you can use for fastening a hatchet
Google Images

The first step you want to take while learning how to sharpen a hatchet is to make sure you’ve got a clamping mechanism within your home. Something like a vise or a table-mounted clamp set will do the trick and will help ensure that there are no harmful accidents while you learn how to sharpen a hatchet. First, you’ll want to clamp the hatchet in a vise or clamping mechanism like previously mentioned. After you do this safely and properly, you’ll want to use your preferred tool of sharpening on the original bevel of the hatchet.

Using Proper Form to Sharpen a Hatchet

If you already have a preferred sharpening tool, you can go ahead and move on to the next step. If you don’t, continue reading as we’ll cover more tools later on in this article. During this process for how to sharpen a hatchet, make sure to move slowly and maintain proper form by using long, broad strokes from your shoulders outward. While performing this step, make sure to examine the edge and follow the hatchets’ original bevel. Doing this correctly will ensure that your hatchet is being properly sharpened and will avoid any damage to your hatchet as well. As you become more comfortable with this process, you can begin to quicken the pace of these strokes, but remember to move at a pace that’s comfortable for you to make sure you avoid any harm to yourself or others. Next, flip the hatchet around in your clamping mechanism and repeat these steps to the other side while following the exact same process that you used originally. To make sure your hatchet is being sharpened properly, it’s very important to remember that the edge must be maintained in the exact center of the hatchet, otherwise, you could be causing more harm to your hatchet than good.

Using a File to Sharpen a Hatchet

Many experts claim that another great method for how to sharpen a hatchet is through using a proper file that can be found in many hardware stores. Therefore, it is the most recommended choice for sharpening a hatchet in the field. What’s nice about using a file, is that it can be used outside of your home, without a clamp, and is still considered a very safe method for doing so. We recommend you firmly clamp the head of the hatchet between your knees with the blade facing outwards. During this process, it’s extremely important that the blade is always facing away from you, or else it could end up becoming a dangerous practice.

Using a File to Sharpen your Hatchet With a Vice

If you don’t feel comfortable learning how to sharpen a hatchet without a vice, you can always place the hatchet in one as was previously mentioned in the last segment. Once you begin the actual sharpening process with the vice, you should place the end of the file against the hatchet blade at an angle matching the bevel, and like before, draw the file across the blade in long strokes using steady pressure the entire length of the way. On most accounts, about half a dozen strokes are usually enough to dramatically improve how sharp your hatchet is. Once you’ve determined how many strokes it took on the first side, it’s always good practice to use the same amount on the other side as well. Once you’ve finished both sides you want to make sure the edge is still straight and centered. However, if it’s not, don’t panic, you can always fix this issue by continuing to file the hatchet until the edge is re-centered. 

Using a whetstone to Sharpen your Hatchet

An expert using a whetstone to sharpen a knife
Google Images

For using a whetstone to learn how to sharpen a hatchet, experts often recommend a pair of stones that range from coarse to fine. To give you an idea of the different ranges you can apply, in most cases, you would want to use something close to stone around 360/600 grit and another that’s close to 1000/3000 grit. Much like sandpaper grit, the lower the number, the more aggressive and abrasive the sharpening. Adversely, also much like sandpaper, the higher the number, the finer the grit. Once you’ve spent a good deal of time sharpening the blade with the lower grit, you can then use the higher number to hone and polish the already sharpened blade. It can take an excruciatingly long time to sharpen a hatchet with a grit of 3000 or higher, so be sure to remember to start with the lowest number you have first.

Techniques for Using a Whetstone

Starting at the top edge of the blade, you’ll want to tilt the hatchet to your chosen angle. Once you feel comfortable with this, you can then get ready to begin the sharpening process. Much like the other methods you learned for how to sharpen a hatchet, you’ll want to apply pressure downward while moving the blade back and forth over the top of the stone, except now, you’ll want to do so while also implementing a slight rotation around the edge. Make sure to Sharpen each section in overlapping phases while applying an equal number of sets to each section. Once you’ve finished one side, flip the blade over and repeat the process to the other edge of the hatchet.

How to Sharpen a Hatchet: Conclusion

Now that we’ve covered the three most basic processes for how to sharpen a hatchet, I know that anyone who comes across this article will be capable of rejuvenating the life of their blade to look like the best camping hatchet they’ve ever owned. However, The most important part of each one of these methods is to take your time and to always thoroughly practice the safety measures that were mentioned to avoid unnecessary harm to yourself or anyone else. I hope that this article has been very helpful to you and that you enjoy your nicely sharpened hatchet!

Written by Tallon Haag

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