Using a dull axe is not only tedious, but it’s also dangerous. A dull blade can just bounce off of the wood you’re cutting and go somewhere else – such as into your leg. It also means your work will take longer.
The Fallkniven DC4 Whetstone is my top choice because it has a combination 2000 grit ceramic side and 800 grit diamond side. It features that ability to sharpen your axe dry, without water, so you can take it camping. It is ideal for campers and bushcrafters looking for an axe sharpener that is portable and effective.
Sharpening can be tedious, but a sharp axe will quickly make up for the time spent on the sharpening. That’s why this article is all about five of what I think are the best axe sharpeners out there. I’m sure one of them will be right for you and your needs.
I took each sharpener to my garage and tested them extensively by sharpening some severely blunt axes from my collection. I judged each sharpener based on their performance, ease of use, and value for money. I also took into account portaiblity if you are going to be using it camping.
- 800 and 2000 Grit
- 4-in x 1.25-in Sharpening Area
- Diamond and Ceramic Sides
- Includes a Leather Pouch
- 3-inch Diameter Puck
- 120 and 280 Grit
- Coarse and Rough Sides
- Affordable Price Tag
I have written a guide explaining several methods to sharpen your axe at home you may find interesting.
Table of Contents
1. Fallkniven DC4 Combination Whetstone Sharpener
Sold by Dianova, this whetstone is the Fallkniven DC4 – a name that is highly regarded among outdoorsmen and blade users. The DC4 combination whetstone is a very straightforward yet highly effective axe sharpener. You may wonder what you could do with a sharpener that looks like a brick, but believe me, this is one capable sharpener.
One side is made from fine ceramic and the other from coarser diamond. The ceramic side of the sharpener has a 2000 grit rating, while the diamond has about 800. Thanks to this, this sharpener can be used both for “rough” sharpening and fine honing to make it shaving-sharp.
The 800-grit rating makes the diamond side rather coarse, though it certainly is far from being the coarsest out there. Still, it was capable of removing metal from the blade to help you get rid of chips and repair the blade.
The much finer 2000-grit ceramic side can be used for “polishing” and honing the blade and for removing scratches from it. I found that it was very effective at this.
The thinness and compactness of this whetstone sharpener make it great for camping and carrying along. It’s four inches long , 1 and 1/4 inches wide, and an 1/4 inch thick. It weighs just shy of 2.3 ounces (65 grams). This is it’s only drawback, really – if you have a larger axe or knife it might be a bit inconvenient to sharpen them with this whetstone.
Oh, and by the way – Fallkniven recommends to use it dry, no water or oil. That’s a big plus in my eyes.
- It features a fine ceramic side for honing and a coarser diamond side.
- It’s compact size and lightweight design make it ideal for camping or on-the-go use.
- The manufacturer recommends using the sharpener dry, eliminating the need for water or oil, simplifying the sharpening process and reducing mess.
- The compact design of the sharpener may be inconvenient for sharpening larger axes.
- With an 800-grit rating, the diamond side is not the coarsest option, requiring more effort to remove chips.
2. Lansky Puck Dual Grit Multi-Purpose Sharpener 2-pack
Lansky’s puck sharpener is another simple yet very effective sharpener on our list. This is less convenient for you than Dianova’s whetstone if you have very limited room in your backpack, but it has other advantages to make up for it with.
First of all, the puck shape makes this sharpener more comfortable to hold. Its contoured shape is easy to grip, which makes sliding it against the blade edge easy and convenient.
Like the Dianova/Fallkniven FNDC4 whetstone, the Lansky Puck has two sharpening surfaces – a coarse side for shaping and quick sharpening and a medium side for final sharpening and polishing. So in terms of sharpening functionality, FNDC4 and the Puck are very similar.
What’s also great about this product is that it’s a 2-pack – it includes two Pucks. Given that this 2-pack is cheap, you are getting some good value for the money.
- The puck shape of the Lansky sharpener is easy to hold and maneuver, offering a comfortable grip during use.
- It features two sharpening surfaces—a coarse side for quick sharpening and a medium side for final sharpening and polishing.
- The pack includes two pucks at a reasonable price, offering excellent value.
- The larger puck may make it less convenient for those with limited storage space or during transportation.
- The sharpener only has a coarse and a medium side, potentially limiting its versatility compared to options with more varied grit sizes.
3. Bahco Bastard-Cut Mill File with Handle
This Bahco is a (bastard mill) file, not a blade sharpener. If you’re looking to give your axe a razor-sharp edge, this won’t do it. What it will help you do, though, is roughly sharpen degraded (rusted, chipped) axe bits as well as reshape them if you so please.
It tends toward the finer side of files, with 44 teeth per inch. At 8 inches in length, it’s a very good length for sharpening axes – not too long as to be unwieldy during use, but not so short that it’s a pain to get decent coverage of the bit with each stroke.
When it comes to the comfort of use, this file is better than many other files you can get online. That’s because it has an ergonomic bi-mold handle that makes holding and using it more convenient than other bastard mill files which don’t have handles. Their effective filing length is reduced, too, because you need to grip them by the metal filing section itself.
Bahco is made in Portugal in Europe, so it’s a solid product that doesn’t have the same quality problems that mills made in Mexico or China (which are most files sold in the US nowadays, even those by traditionally US companies such as Nicholson) do.
All in all it’s a great little tool and I especially recommend it if you’re going to be using various sharp tools that take a lot of abuse (axes, shovels, spades, and so on). A file will get a dull edge back to sharpness much faster than a fine whetstone – I would recommend to use the two together.
- The Bahco mill file is excellent for roughly sharpening and reshaping degraded axe bits, making it a versatile tool for axes, shovels, spades, etc.
- The file has a ergonomic bi-mold handle, enhancing its ease of use and overall comfort during extended use.
- Made in Portugal, the Bahco mill file boasts a higher quality than many competitors’ products, avoiding common quality issues in files made in Mexico or China.
- The file is not suitable for giving a razor-sharp edge to axes or other blades, limiting its sharpening capabilities.
- It may not be the best choice for those looking specifically for a blade sharpener, as it’s a mill file rather than a dedicated blade sharpener.
- Despite its quality, it may still not be as durable or effective as some high-end files from well-established brands in the US.
4. SHARPAL 112N 3-in-1 Sharpener
SHARPAL’s 112N sharpener is an interesting one. It isn’t designed like the regular whetstone sharpeners I normally use.
The Sharpal consists of a rubber handle, a safety guard right below it, as well as sharpening slots at the bottom of the safety guard. One of those slots is made for knife sharpening and the other for axe and machete sharpening.
You sharpen your axe with 112N by placing its slot onto the edge of the blade and sliding it back and forth. The slot is just guided along the blade, which makes its use highly convenient.
On the other hand, the design of the 112N sharpener is a bit limited compared to the other sharpeners on the list. You can’t really reshape the axe blade with this sharpener. It is more suitable for blades that are in good condition but just need some honing.
The last thing that should be mentioned in this sharpener is its handle. It is rubberized and easy to grip, first of all. The handle is large, which allowed me to hold it even while wearing thick gloves.
- Its unique design allows for easy usage, simply by sliding the slot along the blade, making it a convenient tool for regular blade maintenance.
- The rubberized handle of the sharpener offers a strong, comfortable grip, even when wearing thick gloves.
- The sharpener includes a safety guard to protect the user during the sharpening process, adding an extra layer of security.
- It is not designed to reshape axe blades or deal with more severe blade degradation.
- Its sharpening capabilities are more suited for blades that are already in relatively good condition and just require honing.
- While the larger handle caters to users with thick gloves, it might be unwieldy for people with smaller hands or those not using gloves.
5. Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener
And the last sharpener on my list is an excellent choice for out-in-the-wild sharpening. Work Sharp’s sharpener looks like a whetstone sharpener, but it is more than that.
The thing I noticed is that this sharpener has multiple sharpening surfaces. It has coarse and fine diamond plates on the top and bottom, a ceramic rod on one side, and a leather strop on the other side. Basically, you get a sharpener that can perform any sharpening task, be it reshaping or polishing the blade.
Overall, Work Sharp sharpener is a great choice if you need a lot of functionality but don’t have much room to spare.
- This is a comprehensive solution with multiple sharpening surfaces, including coarse and fine diamond plates, a ceramic rod, and a leather strop.
- It allows for a wide range of sharpening tasks, from reshaping to polishing the blade, providing a versatile tool for various needs.
- Despite its multi-functionality, the sharpener is compact and does not take up much space.
- With its multiple surfaces and functionalities, the Work Sharp sharpener requires a steep learning curve for optimal use, which is daunting for beginners.
- The tool’s multi-surface design is vulnerable to damage during transit if not properly stored or protected.
Axe Sharpener Buying Guide
Whetstones are traditional sharpening tools made from natural or synthetic materials. They come in various grit sizes for different sharpening needs.
Grit size: Ranges from coarse (200-300 grit) to ultra-fine (8000-12000 grit). Start with a coarser grit for dull axes and progress to finer grits for polishing.
Material: Natural whetstones are made from quarried stone, while synthetic ones are composed of silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, or ceramic. Synthetic stones offer a more consistent grit size.
Lubrication: Some whetstones require water or oil for lubrication. Water stones are easier to clean, but oil stones maintain their flatness longer.
Bench or pocket: Bench stones are larger and ideal for home use, while pocket stones are portable for on-the-go sharpening needs.
Files are made of hardened steel and are a common choice for sharpening axes. They come in various shapes and sizes.
Shape: Flat, half-round, or round files are suitable for axe sharpening. Choose the shape based on the axe’s bevel and your comfort level.
Coarseness: Files are graded as coarse (bastard cut), medium (second cut), or fine (smooth cut). Start with a coarse file for heavy-duty sharpening and progress to finer cuts for refining the edge.
Length: A longer file provides better control, but a shorter one is more portable.
Handle: A comfortable handle is essential for safe and efficient sharpening.
Diamond sharpeners are made with a steel or plastic base coated with industrial diamonds. They are durable and require minimal maintenance.
Grit size: Similar to whetstones, diamond sharpeners come in various grit sizes. Choose according to the desired level of sharpening and polishing.
Shape: Flat or paddle-shaped sharpeners are suitable for axes, providing a stable surface for sharpening.
Portability: Many diamond sharpeners are compact and lightweight, making them ideal for outdoor adventures.
Grinding wheels are power tool accessories that can quickly sharpen axes. They are best suited for professional or heavy-duty sharpening needs.
Grit size: Grinding wheels come in various grit sizes for different sharpening needs. Choose a coarser grit for reshaping and a finer grit for polishing.
Material: Aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, or ceramic grinding wheels are suitable for sharpening axes.
Compatibility: Ensure the grinding wheel is compatible with your power tool and can withstand the recommended RPM.
A sharpening system is a specialized tool that holds the axe at a consistent angle while sharpening. They can be manual or powered.
Versatility: Some systems accommodate multiple sharpening tools, such as whetstones, diamond plates, or ceramic rods.
Angle adjustment: Look for systems that allow angle adjustments to suit your axe’s bevel.
Stability: A stable base or clamp is essential for effective and safe sharpening.
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you have any questions or want to tell others about your favorite axe and blade sharpeners.