How to Sharpen an Axe at Camp

Keeping your knives and axes sharp is important for several reasons. Not only does a sharp tool make carving one of the greatest joys of bushcraft, it is also safer. When working with a blunt knife or axe you have to exert more pressure; this increases the chance of a slip and means that any ensuing cut will be more severe. As such, the ability to sharpen your tools to a razor’s edge is an essential skill. This classic clip from the Bushcraft Survival days shows Ray’s preferred method for sharpening his axe whilst at camp:

In this video, Ray is using the Ice Bear Sharpening Kit and 1200 Grit Stone to sharpen his Gransfors Small Forest Axe. In addition to this video guide, we’ve also included the original illustrations from the book Essential Bushcraft below:

How to Sharpen an Axe

After sharpening your axe it is recommended to apply a thin layer of Camellia Oil to the head. This oil has been used for centuries in Japan to protect samurai swords, and a small coating will help to keep your tools free from rust and corrosion.

While we hope this guide will be enough to get you started, there is no doubt that the best way to learn this technique is to see it done in person. If you would like some guidance on this method, please take a look at the following courses:

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