Axes take a pounding, literally. My axe is used primarily for chopping roots that are in the way of trenches I'm trying to dig. Subsequently my axe is almost always covered in dirt and nicks. Keeping your tool in good shape is extremely important to make sure it will keep working for you.
Step 1: Caring for Your Axe
To keep your axe keen and clean you'll need a few things:
- Wire Brush
- Motor Oil
Step 2: Cleaning It Up
First things first, you'll want to get any dirt off the head of the axe. Use the wire brush to clean off the axe. My brush has a separate point on the end which is extremely useful in scraping off stuck on dirt.
Step 3: Sharpening the Axe
After your axe is nice and clean you can begin to sharpen it. If you have a place to clamp your axe to keep it in place, go for it! Since I don't have anything like that I held it on my leg while sitting to sharpen it.
You want to hold your file at about a 30 degree angle to the axe head while sharpening (see the first picture).
You can use either one or two hands to sharpen your axe. Holding your file at 30 degrees, start at the top of the head and slide the file down the blade. Be sure to run the file away from the edge of the blade so you don't accidentally cut yourself. After a minute or two on one side of the blade flip the axe over and repeat on the other side. Repeat until you are satisfied with how sharp your axe is.
Step 4: Motor Oil
After you are finished sharpening your axe, dampen your rag with a little motor oil and coat the head of your axe with it. The motor oil acts as a rust deterrent, something quite important in a humid environment.
Step 5: That's It!
Now you know how to care for your axe! Remember if you take care of it, it'll take care of you!
Also, remember to clean off your file after sharpening your axe. My set of files came with a little wire brush to clean off the files with. Just run your brush parallel to the notches on the file to get all the little shavings out.