A good quality axe can last your lifetime, and beyond, if it is properly cared for. One way to maintain your axe is by sharpening it yourself; it is a easy DIY project that anyone can learn. The great thing about DIY sharpening, is that it doesn’t require anything fancy, expensive, or “smart.” The sharpening techniques we show you here are all low-tech, take only a short amount of time, and exert only a minimum of physical effort. You don’t need wi-fi, you don’t even need electricity. The sharpening tools are so light and compact, that you can easily sharpen an axe in the woods while doing wood chores, or sharpen a hatchet in your campsite during a quiet moment. In the following videos and the accompanying text, we’ll show a few of our preferred methods of hand-sharpening your axes, hatchets and mauls. We will delve into a few other simple upkeep procedures, so that you’ll get years of top-quality usage from your chopping tools.
Axes, hatchets and mauls, at their most basic level, all have one job: to break up larger logs into smaller pieces of wood. Axes are generally used for chopping, as in felling a tree. They are designed to cut across the grain. After the tree is down, they can also be used to limb the tree, and to then cut up, or “buck” the trunk into smaller pieces, or rounds. While nowadays, chainsaws are generally used for these heavy-duty chores of felling and bucking, there is still quiet satisfaction in using an axe.
A maul is used for splitting wood length wise, or with the grain. When you have bucked up a piece of felled tree into smaller rounds, say for campfire wood, or for fuel to burn in a stove or fireplace, a maul is used to split the rounds long ways, for a more manageable log. It does the same work as the more cumbersome combo of a sledgehammer and a wedge. The advantage of a maul is that it accomplishes this in one tool. See our short video, below, of a maul in action.