Introduction: How to Shave With an Axe

Picture of How to Shave With an Axe

Few things are manlier than shaving with a straight razor, except maybe shaving with an axe.

Having never shaved with a straight razor before I decided if I was going to learn to shave with a single blade I was going to start in the deep end and learn with an axe. Go big, or go home. So, I sharpened a small felling axe to a razor's edge and then used to shave my face.

Tapping into my Canadian roots, I donned my toque and headed out to the woods to start shaving. Follow along and I'll show you how I perfected the axe blade, and the techniques I used to achieve a perfect shave in the manliest way possible.

Step 1: Angle of Axe Blade

Picture of Angle of Axe Blade

Face razors need to be incredibly sharp in order to cut hair, but also to make a smooth glide over your sensitive skin. Axe blades, though sharp, have a much shallower angle as they are designed to split then wedge apart wood. Because of this you'll need to grind the axe blade from a shallow edge to a sharp edge, this translates to grinding a blade angle from 30-40 degrees to a razor sharp one of 10-15 degrees.

You can buy blade angles for kitchen knives that attach to the spline of the blade, but they don't make them for axes. Luckily we have a large sharpening stone at work with an axe jig and a blade angle.

After setting the desired angle and dialing in the sharpening stone diameter the axe is fitted into the sharpening jig and the jig is moved up or down to meet the desired angle.

Step 2: Sharpen Axe Blade

Picture of Sharpen Axe Blade

Sharpening a blade requires patience. LOTS of patience!

Most blades are sharpened wet and with the blade edge towards the direction you are sharpening. Though I am using a wheel with a water reservoir, sharpening on a whetstone is the same. With the jig set at a very low 15 degree angle I gently rocked the blade on the jig across the sharpening stone. Since the axe head is curved I needed to maneuver the axe handle up and down slightly at the ends of the blade to keep good contact with the sharpening stone.

By sharpening the blade angle from 30 degrees to 15 degrees I am creating a longer bevel on the blade, which means removing material on the axe blade. Removing tool steel by sharpening is a slow process that takes time. Put on some tunes or listen to an audiobook and be zen-like while sharpening. Go slow and check your work often to avoid mistakes.

Sharpening this axe from the wedge shaped blade to one I felt comfortable shaving with took about 3 hours.

Step 3: Honing the Edge

Picture of Honing the Edge

Sharpening a blade gets us most of the way there, but to really bring out the edge of your blade you need to hone it.

Honing a blade remove any burrs from sharpening and fixes deformations along the edge. Leather strops are a traditional tool used to hone blades. A leather strop can be any long piece of leather, like a leather belt. The large sharpening stone I used also has a leather wheel for honing.

Unlike sharpening, honing draws the blade away from the edge. Gently draw the blade along the leather a few times to hone the edge. Honing is a great way to put an edge back on your blade when you start cutting, keeping it nice and sharp while you are shaving.

Step 4: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

Axe shaving is a lot like regular shaving, except much more manly. In order to shave like a lumberjack in the wilderness you'll need:

You'll also need a manly beard that's in need of shaving.

Step 5: Lather Your Face

Picture of Lather Your Face

Start by putting your clean cloth in the shaving mug and then filling the mug with hot water. Remove the cloth and wring out the water, then apply the hot cloth to your face. The hot cloth will soften the hair in preparation for shaving.

Dunk the shaving brush into the mug and then work a lather with the damp brush in the shaving soap, apply this lather to your hairy face in small circular motions until covered. Take your time to ensure good, even coverage.

Step 6: Shaving - Cheeks

Picture of Shaving - Cheeks

Like shaving with a straight razor, it's best to shave in quadrants starting with the cheeks.

Before putting the blade to your face try holding the axe in a few positions to get a firm and controlled grip.

Starting with the cheeks, pull the skin as tight as you can. Tight skin will ensure a smooth and even shave. Hold the blade downward above the beard hairline and connect the blade edge to the tight skin of your face. With a gentle motion bring the blade down your face, you should start to feel the blade connect and cut the hair. Work in small strokes down the cheek to the jawline.

After each pass clean the blade and inspect the pass to see how your shave is going. Shaving with a single blade takes time and some refinements may be needed to ensure a good shave. After several passes you should have a good measure on what angle and pressure to apply to your face to achieve a good shave.

Step 7: Shaving - Honing Edge

Picture of Shaving - Honing Edge

Stop after completing both cheeks and wipe the blade clean to inspect. To keep from cutting your face to ribbons you'll need to maintain a sharp edge on your blade, this is where honing comes in.

Honing a blade is not sharpening, honing brings back the edge of the blade and fixes any deformations from shaving. Rub the blade away from you along the leather strop a few times to hone the axe blade and bring back the sharpness. I recommend doing this after shaving each quadrant.

Step 8: Shaving - Jaw

Picture of Shaving - Jaw

Keeping the skin tight, work the blade downwards along the jawline. You're going to need a mirror to shave, but be mindful on how close your axe handle gets to the mirror and any other obstacles; a small bump on the handle while the blade is touching your face can spell BIG trouble.

Step 9: Shaving - Neck and Chin

Picture of Shaving - Neck and Chin

The neck and chin are the most delicate and where most med have the highest density of hair growth.

As before, make sure your blade has been honed and keep the skin very tight while shaving. Go slow, and work carefully around your mouth.

As you can see in the picture here, I didn't pull the skin tight enough and gave myself a small cut.

Step 10: Cleanup

Picture of Cleanup

Clean your face with a fresh damp cloth, removing any leftover shaving soap and blood if you cut yourself.

After, touch your face and feel for any spots you may have missed. Touch up with a spot of shaving soap and more axe time. Shaving a second time should be much easier as there's less hair resistance. Remember to stretch your skin tight as you shave!

Apply lotion to your face after shaving, it helps reduce redness and can cool your face.

Step 11: Final Thoughts

Picture of Final Thoughts

All done, you sexy lumberjack. Now, get out into the woods to wrestle bears and drink whiskey.

Final thoughts:

This was my first time shaving with a single blade. Though it's a little nerve-racking wielding a sharp edge around your face, there's a zone you get into mentally that is actually quite relaxing.

Shaving with my conventional razor (a standard 3 blade razor with disposable heads) normally takes less than 5 minutes, whereas axe shaving took an 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Extra care needs to be made with such a large blade, as I cut myself on my jawline and on the chin. Both cuts were small but could have been avoided by taking a little extra time, and by ensuring the skin was stretched very tight.

I'm glad to have experienced the rugged technique of shaving with an axe, but don't think it's a method I'd try again anytime soon.

Do you have your own shaving trick? I want to see it!
Share a picture in the comments below with your best shaving trick and get a free Pro Membership to Instructables!


Pernickety Jon (author)2017-07-06

I've never seen a rotary sharpening stone or the angle-measuring gadget before. This was an "oh, so that's how they do it moment!". It seems a very different beast from the standard 'angle grinder'.

The leather 'strop' was another revelation - so the paste in the yellow tube was some kind of polish or grinding substance? Just to confirm; the blade edge is pulled along the leather - opposite from the direction on a sharpening stone? Do you think a strop would work for kitchen knives?

Lumberjck (author)2017-02-11

You Sir are a straight up stud and my hero!

gm280 (author)2016-08-26

WOW with the obvious weight of the axe, how were you able to shave without some serious razer burn. Bravo sir Bravo.

DavidM33 (author)2016-08-26

Hi Mike, hope you're well. I'm writing from the Discovery channel TV show Outrageous Acts Of Science. We came across your video in our research and we'd love to talk to you more about the video and potentially feature it on the show. Would it be ok to email me at for more info? Cheers! Alex

rippertear (author)2016-08-25

Next up, chainsaw.

mikeasaurus (author)rippertear2016-08-25

I only use my chainsaw for blending.

morganhillchris (author)2016-08-25

OK, I'm impressed... I shave with a straight razor every day & I'm not sure that I'd be able to do a job as well as you did!

Thanks! It did take me over an hour, so straight razors might be the way to go :)

uzro (author)2016-08-24


arnablue (author)2016-08-24

After trying this instructable... :) :D

Mysterious_Gal (author)arnablue2016-08-24


pbates123 (author)2016-08-24

Interesting instuctable ! I think you should do a followup instructable - How to suture LARGE GAPING Wounds while bleeding profusely! Good luck on the implementation. LOL!

Maggs♍️ (author)2016-08-22

Good grief! Why the hell would you WANT to shave with an axe??

syates3 (author)2016-08-22

This photo looks like a great mem on manliness.

GilbertV6 (author)2016-08-21

Filet knife works way better (I've dry shaved with mine), being the blade angle (depending on if you know how to sharpen your knife) is a lot closer to that of a razor because the filet knife is designed to get as close to the bone as possible and get right between the skin and filet.

With a really sharp ax you could cut a nice piece of face off because of the weight of the blade alone never mind thewewee awkward shape. But in a pinch I guess I'd use my ax.

RobertH25 (author)GilbertV62016-08-22

In a pinch you would use the axe? I do not think that I would ever be pinched that hard.


RobertH25 (author)2016-08-21

A man could make a very serious error while shaving with an axe.

My chainsaw will remain my go-to appliance for shaving. It's a lot quicker, anyway.

TeresaM7 (author)RobertH252016-08-22


rlievens (author)RobertH252016-08-22

And i bet you wont have to bother about shaving ever again after that!


Onismith (author)2015-08-14

Wow, how exactly does one go about attaining the authority to speak for the entire woman population? Did you have to take a test or something? How do you go about making sure all women think, like and dislike the same thing; is there a monthly memo or email that goes out? I could imagin something like "Hey Ladies, heres your monthly collective thinking update. Orange is the new Black. All men are still dumb and sexist... Brad Pit is aging really well ;) Ohhh and guys who shave with axes are unattractive. See you next month and remember think inside the box!!!

1lindmill1 (author)Onismith2015-11-11

Onismith, well written!

Random question, if a lady shaved her legs with an axe, would that make her more "womanly"?

DreamDabbler (author)1lindmill12016-08-21

"if a lady shaved her legs with an axe, would that make her more "womanly"?"

No, but men who like their women a bit wild and woolly might find that attractive!

kas227 (author)1lindmill12015-11-14

Thank you, you have proved my point.

kas227 (author)1lindmill12015-11-14


kas227 (author)Onismith2015-08-14


IshanuC (author)2016-08-21

Good that you asked. I will explain right after you explain what the eff is this, and why.

treymartin82 (author)2016-08-21

Nice instructable but you should change the title: How to Change a Lumberjack into a Woman lol

AndersJ3 (author)treymartin822016-08-21

You mean without mens weaknesses?

AmauryA7 (author)2016-08-21

Lumberjacks don't shave, or do they?

treymartin82 (author)AmauryA72016-08-21

NO! No they do not!

AndersJ3 (author)treymartin822016-08-21

They do.

My father has worked in the woods and timbered houses since about 1975, and he has been everything feomclean shaved to full beard, like me. As a house timber man use real sharp axes, where you can dry shave...

But they all use scandinavian snus, called weat snuff.

kas227 (author)2016-08-21


Tungsten (author)2016-08-21

I've found that you can keep a disposable razor sharp by honing it on a length of blue jeans. I cut up an old pair of jeans and keep a 2' section folded up near my razors for easy access. Only issue with using this method is if the razor has moisture strips it will wear them down faster. No worries just lather up with more shaving cream.

Well done ibble'!!!
Ill be going on an extended trip through Yellowstone in the near future and your shaving method might just do in a pinch. Thanks!

stumitch (author)2016-08-21

This reminds me of Crocodile Dundee who, in one scene was shaving with a bic until the lady love interest was in sight at which point he switched to a huge manly knife. Why do this 'ible? Because we CAN. Awesome!

dbusuioc1 (author)2016-08-21

This is insane! And I mean Insanely Awesome... Some people may ask WHY? you would do such a thing, but the answer is simple: because you can!

May I suggest some more grooming INSTRUCTABLES? Nose and ear hair trimming with a 2-stroke motor string trimmer, toenail clipping with a press brake, blackhead removal with a jackhammer, and, perhaps, a vasectomy with a ride-on lawnmower?

All kidding aside, this is really cool...

dave5201 (author)2016-08-21

Great instructable, but I think I will stick with my machete...

rickh1459 (author)2016-05-30

My father was a lumberjack before WW2. I bet he kept his axe sharp enough to shave with. He is gone now, but I bet you a dollar that he shaved with it during the Great Depression. Those were the Days!

tweed0037 (author)2015-12-27

As a minimalist, I think this is brilliant. As an avid wet shaving straight razor user I deem this instructable unbeatable.

PeterB65 (author)2015-09-03

I shaved with a straight razor for a while in my 20's, just 'cuz...And as sharp as I ever got it to be, it still was more difficult, a bit more painful, than an old fashioned double sided razor blade in a razor, or a disposable. I suppose that's part of the reason I have had a beard most of the last 40 years. Peter

tweed0037 (author)PeterB652015-12-27

Interesting. It sounds like your honing technique or perhaps the grind of the blade could have been some negative factors. I enjoy straight razors and I swear my life on the use of them. I hope you try again one day.

crazypj (author)2015-12-12

What a great Instructable. Kudos to you for actually using axe to shave.

I need to get a small axe

Load of You Tube 'sharpening' video's show hair on arms being cut but none show shaving - so if it is sharp enough to shave with, show it. (LOL). For a first ever axe shave your a hero. It should only take about twenty minutes next time.

Street-Wise Irish (author)2015-11-18

I agree with Onismith, besides it is not an ego trip, it is just something that looks cool and would be fun to try

Special~K (author)2015-11-16

Lol well, I love that this has certainly caused somewhat of a stir, and in my opinion, regardless of the fore comments... As soon as I saw this post I had a giggle and thought "How Awesome" I am a hairdresser by trade amongst many other things, so I'll tell you,I can appreciate the difficulty of attaining a fine sharp Edge!!! Well done For adding the humorous Manly Touch! Makes it so much Fun! I seriously Love your Posts!!! Please please Keep Up the Awesomeness ?
Let's stay positive here All, there's already enough Negative degradation in this wild & wondrous World... We are the pinnacle of Creative Community in our lil InstructaRealm... Let's rise up not by stepping on each other's backs but supporting creative genius for venturing out of touch with Normality! Rise Up! ?

1lindmill1 (author)2015-11-11

This is actually a great tutorial on how to take a regular hardware store grade axe, one for light splitting duty, and making it sharp enough for felling and limbing.

If you're curious about the difference, check out "An Axe To Grind" from the US Forrest Service.

JesusG33k (author)2015-10-26

Can you do a shaving tutorial on how to shave while fighting a bear? A friend if mine was thinking of tricking the bear into giving you the shave for free.

theodore.sloat (author)2015-10-26

There is more to this than how to shave with an axe, the information applies to how to sharpen an axe, knife, chisel, or any blade and change it's profile too. Some guys want to learn how to shave with a straight razor, well if you can shave with an axe you can with a razor. And the final part that you missed is the fact that your gear is not sharp unless you can shave with it, so shaving with an axe is showing off how sharp buddy can get his axe. Try to be constructive with these videos, you may not see the need to shave with an axe but knowing how to get a razors edge is handy because you must use knives at some point right?

Arghus (author)2015-10-21

Emh "Tim Allen Grunt Noice"

diy_bloke (author)2015-09-15

It doesnt matter whether shaving with an axe is or is not attractive to women, they dont need to watch it. It is the end result that counts: having a beard or not having a beard.
I am sure many men dont find the process of a girl waxing her legs, or having curlers attractive, though they may like the end result.

DeeDeeLee (author)2015-09-10

It's a guy thing. Don't question it, just take advantage of the obvious sex appeal of a freshly shaved man in a flannel shirt out in the woods. No whisker burn in sensitive areas to deal with, plus since he is feeling very macho right then it should be a pretty good time.

kas227 (author)DeeDeeLee2015-09-12

Point proved

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
More by mikeasaurus:Router Planer10 MORE Woodworking Tricks the Pros UseSliced Wood Coasters
Add instructable to: