Top 3 Easiest Ways to Sharpen your Edged Tools

Edged tools and blades are found all over your jobsite. It doesn’t take long for these tools to lose their edge – especially if you’re working with tough materials.

Sharpening tools is an essential skill. Today, I’m going to share 3 easy tool sharpening tips and tricks:

How does sharpening work?

Before we talk about how to sharpen stuff, let’s talk about how sharpening actually works.

Essentially, you use an abrasive material to remove metal from the edge of your tool or blade. By removing this metal, you reveal a clean, sharp edge.

When sharpening a blade, it’s important to use a low-friction environment. Otherwise, heat buildup from friction will ruin the temper of your blade.

Got it? Now let’s talk about how to actually sharpen your cutting tools.

3) Use a grinding wheel

A grinding wheel is a powerful piece of equipment that lets you quickly and easily sharpen tool blades. Many workshops and jobsites are equipped with bench grinders.

The main advantage of grinding wheels is their speed and power. If you don’t feel like filing a blunted axe, tool, or blade by hand, then a grinding wheel is an ideal solution.

Use grinding wheels on any blades which have large number of nicks and indents. When using a grinding wheel, follow these tips:1

-Follow the factory angle of the cutting edge and never cut into the blade. You may be surprised at how quickly the grinding wheel goes to work, so start off gentle.

-Constantly keep your tool moving as you grind to prevent overheating. If you suspect overheating is a problem, keep a bucket of water close by and dunk the blade into that water after each pass. Wipe it dry with a rag and continue grinding.

-Grinding wheels are particularly popular with steel tools. If you are sharpening steel tools, keep the piece constantly moving to avoid burning the steel – which softens the edge and will reduce its lifespan.

2) Invest in a good file

There are cheap files and there are good files. Cheap files cost $5 at any hardware store while good files cost significantly more.

You can use powerful machines like grinding wheels to tackle larger blades with more noticeable indents. But when it comes to precision work, it’s time to use a file.

It can take a few tries before you start to use a file correctly. A file only “files” in a single direction. It will file as you stroke away from your body.2

Instead of dragging the file back and forth over the tool, simply stroke it away from yourself, lift it off the tool, and then stroke down once more.

During the filing process, your strokes should be smooth – not jolted. You should be applying even pressure throughout the downstroke.

On some tools and files, you’ll notice a jump or bump during the stroke. If that occurs, then you should stop immediately and clean your file/tool.

Files can be used on anything from axes to shovels to household knives. In any case, they’re ideal for precision work where you need to remove minor imperfections as opposed to larger problems.

3) Protect your blade instead of sharpening it all the time

One of the most frequent mistakes made when sharpening tools doesn’t occur while sharpening your tool; it occurs after sharpening your tool.

Many people don’t protect the naked edge of their blades after sharpening. This can lead to rusting, weak edges, and reduced durability.3

There are all sorts of different materials you can use to protect your blades. Some people create “home remedies” to protect the edge, while others buy commercial products.

One popular home remedy is to use a 9:1 ratio of linseed oil to beeswax. Melt the two ingredients together, then mix and apply to a metal surface. Wipe the edge with an old rag and you’re good to go.

Remember: sharper tools are safer tools. When you’re using a sharp tool, you require less pressure and less effort to slice through materials. If you’re swinging an axe at a tree stump, the axe is more predictable in its behavior: it’s not going to bounce off the tree stump and cut off your toes.

Whether you’re sharpening razor blades, utility knives, or any other cutting tool, the effects are immediately noticeable. Take the time to sharpen your tools and you’ll be rewarded with a safer jobsite and easier work.

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