Getting an edge

Discussion in 'Axe Mob' started by possumjon, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. possumjon

    possumjon Supporter Supporter

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    Every axe I've gotten so far has had a great to decent edge on it with no chips etc. I bought a Kelly a while back and hung it. It's edge was like a butter knife, but flatter/wider.
    I've been able to maintain my axes very well with regular sharpening, but this one coming dull took a while to get somewhat sharp. The heel and toe I was able to get exceptionally sharp but the middle part is still fairly dull and I can't seem to work out a few micro chips.
    It cuts and splits very well as is but I know it could do better, I'm to the point im so frustrated id consider paying someone to get it right for me lol. Any tips on working a dull axe to top shape?
     
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  2. CHREBA

    CHREBA Guide

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    The best advice "I" could give would be to take it slow with a good file on the desired area and then maybe a Lansky puck course side then smooth and of course 1000 grit wet/dry then strop if your going for the gold . But fair warning I'm no expert .
     
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  3. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Have you watched an axe to grind on YouTube?



    I'd advise that you focus more on the middle of the bit. Old American axes tend to have high centerlines and so you need to remove more material from the middle of the bit to maintain the same angle. This is where the classic banana grind comes from, it's dependant on the superior ;) high centerline profile. If you sharpen it evenly you'll likely wear out your heal and toe a bit, and never see the axes true potential. A picture would also help.

    Banana grind right (not the best example) flat cheeked axe left

    [​IMG]West Woods 18 VS GB SFA 2 by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    Next question is what are you using to sharpen it? You should be using a file. I recommend a Bacho file as the stuff they sell in stores these days is absolute junk. Then once you finished with the file you can either draw file, use a stone, use sandpaper, or a combination of any of the above. I like to draw file then finish with sandpaper backed by a strop. It's what most folks refer to the Rooster method, but I believe many of us have been doing it that way for a long time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  4. Glock Holiday

    Glock Holiday Scout

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    You can find real, made in the USA Nicholson files at garage/estate sales. They have lost quality being made in mexico. If you buy new files read the fine print. Some are for wood and PVC only
     
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  5. Bucksnort

    Bucksnort Scout

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    yeah, sharpening the center with a file will take a while, but it should not be difficult to get an edge, but it will take some work... I recently took a number of axes from file, to lansky puck (rough then smooth), then to a belt with stropping compound (screwed/clamped to my workbench)... this has resulted in a near mirror finish with less work than i thought it would take...
     
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  6. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    It's not that they have lost quality, it's that they are complete and utter garbage. It may sound harsh, but I'd just like to keep others from making the same mistake I did and wasting their money on a tool that will not work at all.
     
  7. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    I cant even tell you how many really dull axes like that I've put an edge on.

    If there's chips, first thing is take the edge down to the shape you want it, and clean those up. A couple tiny ones don't bother me though. Unfortunately this makes it duller! But it pays off to start clean.

    What @MJGEGB said about the high centerline is the part that always takes the most work. I agree it's the superior design though, and worth the trouble.
    Flat axes are easier, all it takes is just a good convex along the edge. Any of em, flat or convex cheek, that are worn much.....you have to take off a lot of steel to get that bevel right.

    Bring that center down, dont put a big secondary bevel on, make it convex right to the edge with a microbevel. You'll be amazed how well it can cut, and really throw chips.
    Make an angle guage, then just get rid of what doesn't match. Takes some time with a file, and take the advice to get a good one.
    Even if you don't get a banana grind, it takes more work in the middle. When you're done it should look something like one or the other of these. Both these throw huge plates 2 inches thick in nice green wood.

    Banana
    20171227_102557.jpg

    No banana
    20171119_111238.jpg


    Desired results
    20171119_105045.jpg

    This is a worn boys axe brought to a good bevel. It cuts excellent now, despite having a thicker bit.

    20170410_150927.jpg

    20170410_151553.jpg

    Good luck!
     
  8. possumjon

    possumjon Supporter Supporter

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    Awesome guys, I just have a cheap Menards special file, I'll take some pics tonight. Just got back from camp and despite not being satisfied with my edge it got the job done. I'll have to watch an axe to grind also!
    rps20180114_135804.jpg rps20180114_135828.jpg
     
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  9. possumjon

    possumjon Supporter Supporter

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    Sorry for the late reply! I've been on nights and it just crossed my mind I never posted pics! Here she is. Even though it wasn't screaming sharp, this axe performs so well! It's definitely my favourite axe. Anyway, this is the edge in question. My second hang so it's not perfect, but functional. This also the first head I've really worked on my self as far as from the start. I'll be ordering a bacho file. Any advice and thoughts are appreciated! Gotta love beginners:) paging @MJGEGB and @batmanacw as you guys are usually great with these kinds of questions! rps20180120_215324.jpg rps20180120_215337.jpg rps20180120_215405.jpg
     
  10. Richinva

    Richinva Lover of Sharpened Bits of Steel... Supporter

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    I will echo the sentiment about the 'new' Nicholson files as well. I opened up a brand new Nicholson 10" mill bastard just today to work on thinning out a really fat Husqvarna hatchet (what a POS). Just for kicks, I switched to a single cut Bahco. The Bahco out-performed the Nicholson easily. When a single cut removes material faster than a double cut, you know something ain't right..............
     
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  11. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    That's a steep bevel.
    The bit is pretty thick, so it will take a little work. You have to thin those cheeks down quite a bit leading up to the edge with your file. A smooth glide, not an abrupt dive.

    Here's a top down of a similar bit thickness that works well.....
    20171113_151637.jpg
     
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  12. possumjon

    possumjon Supporter Supporter

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    What angle do you guys aim for for a general purpose axe?
     
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  13. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Somewhere around 23° to 25° usually works well for me. Just as long as it's a consistent, gradual bevel a couple degrees steeper is alright for a working axe---but I'd certainly keep it under 30°.

    Yours looks like it's up in the 45° range.
    Already you saw some improvement, so you'll be amazed at the difference when you get it dialed ;)
     
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  14. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Can't really add much to what @Muleman77 said. The example he posted reminds me of my favorite hatchet for carving. I'll just repeat that you need to focus more on the center of the bevel where the cheeks are thickest. In order to maintain a consistent bevel angle the middle of the bit will need to be ground farther back creating what is called a banana grind like we talked about earlier in this thread. Looking at how it is currently sharpened the width of the bevel is even, which means the heal and especially toe will wear faster if you don't correct this because they will have a thinner edge. I actually like to leave my toe a little more blunt on a working axe as the toe tends to wear faster.
     
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