Axe profiling

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by batmanacw, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I've been asked several times about how I profile my axe edges without power tools. This is an extremely important thread because so many people lack understanding of the basic structure of the edge and they have no idea how to arrive at the proper profile.

    This is the edge we are starting with.

    20180124_150458.jpg

    I would wager 90% of the guys who read this would file a 60° + hard angle on this axe and go chop wood. This is why many folks think small axes can do so little work.

    The basic set up I use is to use a pencil tapped to the center of the eye as a basic guide and starting point.

    20180124_150619.jpg

    20180124_150633.jpg

    About five minutes of filing. I work both sides evenly.

    20180124_150956.jpg

    This looks good but it's not even close to a good profile. It's not going to meet in the middle yet and there is a hard bump between the base of the edge and the cheeks. This bump is a huge problem that seriously reduces the performance of the axe over all. Much more sticking and less depth of cut.

    This picture is of how I inked the edge and started to widen the edge profile to remove the hard bump.

    20180124_151750.jpg


    Here you can see how much more has been cleaned up.


    20180124_151907.jpg

    This is how I hold my file. I am draw filing so my upper hand is controlling the angle and only moving a little. My left hand is drawing the file across.

    20180124_152018.jpg

    I'm still not happy with the transition into the cheeks so I re-inked it and dropped my file almost until it's laying on the head. This is not universal. You will need to make these decisions on how you want your axe to perform.

    20180124_152243.jpg

    This is cleaned up with a smooth transition.

    20180124_152939.jpg

    To be continued.....


     
  2. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    At this point I re-inked the edge and I start to create my convex.

    I raised the angle from almost laying on the side of the head to about pencil height.

    20180124_153533.jpg

    Re-ink and raise to twice the thickness of the pencil.

    20180124_153932.jpg

    I still wanted to remove more of the transition so I nearly layed the file down flat.

    20180124_154239.jpg

    At this point I did about 5 passes at about pencil height, then twice pencil height, then about 3 times the width of the pencil.

    20180124_154649.jpg

    At this point the two sides have met in the middle and it is extremely sharp. It has a light burr that I will take off by hand.

    This is the new profile.

    20180124_155349.jpg

    I used my DC-4 to micro bevel the edge to remove the burr on both sides with diamond and then ceramic. I do this at a very slightly higher angle than the file work.

    With less than a minute of stropping this axe is easily sharp enough to shave hair with a profile that will cut DEEP.

    Further polishing looks sweet and it's completely unnecessary. It's freaky crazy sharp. You can hit the edge with the puck or use the sandpaper on a pad trick to make it prettier. That's all up to you all.

    It should go on this handle this week sometime. 1.25 lbs on 18" of beautiful dark hickory.

    20180124_161556.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  3. cbrianroll

    cbrianroll Professional Tinkerer

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    This should be some terrific schooling for me...id like to blame the wood I'm cutting but I'm 99.98% it's not lol. Very much appreciate you taking the time to do this.
     
  4. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Just going to add this....big axes with that profile in the first pic don't do much work either, unless it's a splitter only!
    So you're making a good point that applies all across the board.
     
  5. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    I was always told that the bevels need to thick to preserve the edge. I'm anxious to see how you finish the profile. This has me thinking about reprofiling my axes and hatchets.
     
  6. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    That picture in the second post is the final profile. It's plenty thin and it will hold an edge extremely well assuming decent steel with proper heat treat.

    This is the edge on my Rinaldi Trento that holds up to rock hard dead standing maple..

    20171204_145814.jpg

    Better picture of the edge on the axe in the OP.

    20180124_174609.jpg
     
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  7. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    Thanks. Apparently missed that.
     
  8. Kelly W

    Kelly W Love the Axe Supporter

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    Good stuff @batmanacw, Not too many folk like the file I've found. I'ts how I sharpen and the only way to truly restore and edge. Diagram #39 in "The Ax Book" give an excellent illustration of the angles and their relationship over the length of the bit. Once you understand it, sharp is easy. Time consuming but easy.

    IMG_0818.JPG
     
  9. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I will readily admit my edges are not exactly to that spec but they are 100 times better than I see on a lot of axes posted here and on Axe Junkies.

    I think the edge on this axe might be a little thicker than they call for on that diagram.
     
  10. Kelly W

    Kelly W Love the Axe Supporter

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    Oh I don't criticize your method in any way. I only post the diagram to help fellow ax nuts understand your method.
     
  11. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Another thing I notice is that a razor edge is not that important if the overall profile is right. For general work, It will still perform even when it's fairly dull.
     
  12. mr c

    mr c Banned Member Banned

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    Great stuff Mr Wayne
     
  13. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I would go one further. A proper edge profile will retain its sharpness a lot longer. If find that after a while of chopping my razor sharp edge will end up just barely shy of shaving sharp but it would still slice skin or hide easily. It will slice a tomato easily. After an afternoon of goofing off in the woods my axes are usually very sharp still.
     
  14. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Man, and here I was thinking you didn't even own a file @batmanacw ;) that's the way to do it. Just keep in mind if the axe you are filing has a high centerline you'll need to remove a lot more material in the middle to maintain a consistent bevel angle, and prevent wearing down the heal and toe.
     
  15. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Agreed, good point!
     
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  16. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    That is the real reason for the football shaped edge profile. If you file a true convex on a high centerline axe you will contact the center much further back in the middle.
     
  17. pipehand

    pipehand Scout

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    Nice Simmonds file. That always helps.
     
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  18. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I wish it was larger....It was only 10" and the biggest I could find quickly. My big files are packed up with my house.
     
  19. Michael OD

    Michael OD Scout

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    Nice looking John Deere in the background :D
     
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  20. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I don't want this thread to get lost. I usually do my profiles on a belt sander. This one took a lot of work to make pretty. I hope this thread helps some of those struggling to make their axes perform.
     
  21. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Thank you, Adam. This is exactly the tutorial I was looking for. I was on the right track, just need to carry it further than I had been.
     
  22. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    It's a good simple description and set of pics.

    If anyone searches for the topic, hopefully they'll find it.
     
  23. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    tagging this one for future reference for sure! good stuff!!
     
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  24. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    @batmanacw you should add some tags to this thread to make it searchable. I could be missing something, but I don't see any currently. If you hit thread tools at the top I believe you will get an option to add tags. These tags are used to help the search engine find the thread when people search for the terms associated with the threads content in the future.

    I'm not sure if the indexing is weighted, but some systems can be cheated by repeating terms more than once so that it shows up in the top of the search based on the weight of the search term.

    I'd go with something like (axe, ax, axe profiling, axe filling, file an axe, filing an axe) and so on. Just try to think of what future users will search for when looking for this kind of information.
     
  25. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I felt this thread is unfinished business without a completed picture or two.

    I decided to use the sandpaper on a soft pad trick to remove some of the draw filing marks. I could have started rougher and gone to a mirror but I'm way to lazy for that.

    20180125_151850.jpg

    I used one of the prettiest dark hickory handles I have ever received from my guy. There is no stain. Just BLO.

    20180125_153506.jpg

    20180125_153516.jpg

    1 lb 11.5 is and 19" long on the 18.5" handle.
     
  26. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    Beautiful work. Thanks for sharing it and the work to bring it back
     
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  27. Guillaume Longval

    Guillaume Longval Friction Fire Addict

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    Thanks ! Nicely put!

    Made me realise i might have gone too thin at apex (maybe 20deg instead of 30) ... Ill try it next time and i bet it will stick less and stay sharp longer ...
     
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  28. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    Is there a distinct bump at the top of the bevel going into the cheeks?
     
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  29. Guillaume Longval

    Guillaume Longval Friction Fire Addict

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    No, i did grind a very gradual convex, only started narrower witch makes the edge go higher on the cheeks for same thickness. Very very casual user here. Ill just try and see if i like it better this summer...probably
     
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  30. ClutteredShop

    ClutteredShop Guide

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    Nice to see your method, @batmanacw, and that is a sweet-looking handle.
     
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  31. americanstrat98

    americanstrat98 Wanderer Bushcraft Friend

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    Good stuff!
     
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  32. victoratsea

    victoratsea Supporter Supporter

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    Excellent tutorial! Many thanks to batmanacw for generously sharing his time, skills, and experience with us all. I particularly like his use of a pencil to "index" the angle of the file. I'm certain your method will improve the ease and accuracy of profiling my axes in the future.
     
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  33. americanstrat98

    americanstrat98 Wanderer Bushcraft Friend

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    Hey @batmanacw, can't thank you enough for this little trick. Since I think this thread will see a lot of miles I hope you don't mind me dropping a picture of my stock holder here.

    If the axe is already on a handle, and you want full axes to the head without anything getting in the way, this has been my favorite tool in my shop. Made from about $15 worth of plywood and pine, with a bit of leather wrapped around the top. At my college every vise had one of these adjustable stands beside it for putting a rifle in the vise and having full access to the stock. Its use is pretty universal. It has become a requirement in my shop for each vise. This is just a little 3.5" Wilson and it can do many jobs my big one can with the aid of this stand.

    For handle shaping.
    IMG_20180126_100343288.jpg
    And for draw filing the bevels. IMG_20180126_100541980.jpg

    On the telescoping pedestal you drill your adjustment holes about 1" apart all the way down the pedestal. Use a piece of 1/4" steel as the cross pin and put a nice big handle on it so it's easy to adjust. Make the base out of birch so you can stand on it and it won't break. Not too thick, bc it makes the workspace a trip hazzard.

    Again very cool tutorial.
     
  34. Maurice 7

    Maurice 7 Scout

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    Totally but kick!
    Amazing work
    Throw these angles low n the grind high!
    Grind m up bro! All these tools with massive angles and super thick edges behind the apex...no!
    Looks perfect for chopping fresh wood too me!
     
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  35. Quinlan

    Quinlan Supporter Supporter

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    Greetings,

    Amazing thread, very useful it will be for me. Thank you @batmanacw for creating it and everyone for sharing your ideas. I need to learn how to sharpen my tools, both knives and the adze axe that I have and this thread is a good way to start my studying of this very important part of bushcrafting, keeping your tools sharp. :)

    Regards,

    Christos
     
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  36. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    These edges hold up extremely well in dry hardwood. They are pretty much universal.
     
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  37. Jbradshaw

    Jbradshaw Scout

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    Great tutorial. Would you care to show how you do this on a belt sander too?
     
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  38. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I hold the part at the angle I want until it is close to cleaning up and use the slack belt to produce a smooth curve.
     
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  39. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I did another head today. I haven't worked the soft pad and sand paper yet so I can haft it before it's razor sharp.

    20180217_150628.jpg

    20180217_151207.jpg

    This head has a thick bit so the extra wide bevel was necessary for a proper thin convex. It's lightly convexed now but it will be a smoother curve after sand paper.
     
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  40. americanstrat98

    americanstrat98 Wanderer Bushcraft Friend

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    Just a follow up to share. The plumb I had in the shot above was sharpened to a razor's edge back when I posted it. I have used this hatchet almost daily since then to make kindling on a chopping block. The edge is still really sharp with no chips or rolls. It can still slice a tomato, or carve wood. I'm very pleased with the result.

    Most of my hatchets used on blocks tend to dull fast due to the grit that gets impregnated in the top of the block. For some reason this grind and head are having zero issues. Thanks again!
     
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  41. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    This is just an observation that’s related but doesnt deserve its own thread.

    This was after “felling” a few cottonwood and alder/elder? Beaver stumps.

    This side was finished with a single cut file, still far from polished.
    5481DBCA-761D-442D-8B7D-147613C5B3DB.jpeg

    This side was finished with a double cut, a little bit rougher. I’m thinking that crud will definitely slow an axe down a bit.
    20327A7F-46B9-490B-B156-AEFAD3472266.jpeg
     
  42. badglide9705

    badglide9705 Hobbyist Hobbyist Supporter

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    @batmanacw Man, I would love to see a video of you doing this.
     
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  43. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I'm far too fat and ugly for video. No one wants to see that......:eek:
     
  44. Kelly W

    Kelly W Love the Axe Supporter

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    No doubt a smoother edge provides less friction. Once you start tuning edge finish for friction reduction...hang on...

    That is a nice looking axe you put together. :)
     
  45. Jacob

    Jacob Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks man, the only thing special about it is the grain on that handle and I can’t take credit for that. I just though it was kind of striking how much crud accumulated on the slightly coarser grind. It doesn’t seem to take much to avoid it but there is a limit to how lazy one can be.

    I’ll second @badglide9705. It would be cool to see some @batmanacw videos, bevels, handle tuneing, fitting and all. That’s asking for a lot of work though.
     
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  46. Kelly W

    Kelly W Love the Axe Supporter

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    Filing is always an inspiration. So few do it. I personally feel there is no other way to truly restore an edge. It is my preferred method. I'm ugly too though.
     
  47. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    Maybe someday.
     
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  48. hotworms

    hotworms Tracker

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    Thank you for the info.
     
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  49. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Same here, on all counts!
     
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  50. Kyle363

    Kyle363 Supporter Supporter

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    I'm still dialing my exact process but I'm thinning most bits a considerable amount.
     
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