How to Sharpen an Axe Without Tools: 13 Effective Resources

No woodworking enthusiasts don’t have an extensive collection of axes for different projects. An axe is a fantastic tool, but you can’t prevent its dullness from being a blunt axe if you don’t maintain it properly. A dull and rough axe can’t perform its chopping duty suitably as it should. Therefore, knowing how to sharpen an axe without tools is a must for you. This content will discuss some fantastic ways you can apply to sharpen your axe. 

Things You Need to Sharpen Your Axe 

  • Safety glasses 
  • Hand gloves 
  • A clamp or vise

13 Effective Techniques to Sharpen an Axe 

Using a Leatherman 

Many don’t know that using a leatherman or Gerber is a fantastic technique to sharpen your axe perfectly. The edge you can get by following this method is highly appreciated. If you have a multitool with a file, it is your go-to item. Make sure you secure the axe and file the edge of your axe just like the way you would do while staying home and sharpening the axe. 

Using a Shovel

The method of using a shovel is the same as using a knife. Many think using a shovel is more convenient than other approaches as you will have more area to do your tasks on a shovel.

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Using a Ceramic Item

Almost all craftsmen know ceramic is a suitable material to sharpen any blade. The most convenient item among ceramics is a coffee cup or tea cup. Start using the cup by flipping it over. Then, you will notice the unglazed bottom ring that doesn’t touch the table. This ring of ceramic is good to use to sharpen an axe blade. Make sure you line up the axe blade at the right angle and draw it across the ceramic item. You should keep alternating on both sides back and forth to get the maximum sharpness. If you don’t have a coffee or tea cup, you can use other ceramic objects like a ceramic plate or tile near your hand. 

Using a Rock 

A rock is a convenient object that you can use for sharpening your axe. The rock’s abrasiveness can remove stress by determining the material removed from the axe blade. You will get a fantastic axe edge quickly by using a rock like sandstone, shale, slate, etc, that creates a flat surface after breaking. Besides, you can also use river rocks to sharpen the axe blade. However, don’t be stressed if you can’t collect any of these varieties. What you can do is prepare the rock yourself before using it to sharpen projects. This is an effortless task as you need to rub two rocks together to get a flat surface that can sharpen an axe well. If you can collect a flat type of rock like shale, use it similarly by putting it on the ground. 

Using a Knife

It is easy to realign the axe blade with the spine of a knife. You will get a perfect axe edge by applying this method. Start with dragging the axe blade across the spine of the knife like the way you would apply to sharpen your axe using the other approaches. If you fail to get the expected edge, use the coarser sharpening method. Later, use the method of using a knife again to finish the edge work perfectly.  

Using Concrete Objects

You can get the axe blade’s angle relatively uniform as the concrete materials have flat surfaces. Sharpening an axe blade with a concrete material is similar to a rock. The steps and sidewalks of concrete are practical on the axe. Hold the axe with your hands and line it up so that the blade incorporates the concrete at a right angle. Then start sharpening the axe blade with a circular motion. Do the same thing to the other side. You shouldn’t rub so fast; otherwise, you can significantly damage the axe.

Read: What Is a Michigan Axe? The Best Informative Guide

Using a Car Window 

You can also sharpen the axe on a car window in the same process as a rock or stone. A car window has a smooth surface that can sharpen a very dull blade. 

Using a Sandpaper 

Many people prefer to use sandpaper to sharpen an axe over other items. It would help if you glued the sandpaper to a wooden block so that you won’t be stressed much about it moving. After it is glued down, you can easily use sandpaper to sharpen your axe. 

Using a Leather or Nylon Belt

Strop your axe blade with a leather or nylon belt if you want to prevent the damage and dullness of it. Secure the belt on one end and hold the other end with both hands. Next, you need to set the blade over the nylon belt to match the angle you need. Afterward, pull the axe head back and do the same on both sides. 

Using a Broken Glass  

Using a piece of broken glass is another fantastic method for sharpening an axe blade. The lid of glass bottles is mostly not polished. You don’t need to break any glass if you have an unpolished piece of glass nearby. Take the axe in one hand and the glass in the other and lay the blade and the glass against each other. 

Using Emery Boards

You can lay the emery board on a surface to provide your hands a reasonable control over the axe head. Run the axe blade down the emery board repeatedly until the axe blade becomes sharp enough to cut off something. You should do the same number of passes on both sides.  

Using a DIY Sharpening Stone 

Apply a DIY method to sharpen an axe when you have no proper equipment to apply the other methods. Smash a rock into a powder form that will be effective to use for sharpening an axe. 

Using Sand

Use sand to sharpen your dull axe if you don’t have any rocks or smashed rock powder to work with. There is hardly anyone who can’t collect some sand from sharpening the axe. 

Related: How Many Coats of Boiled Linseed Oil on Axe Handle: 6 Tricky Tips


How to use sandpaper to sharpen an axe?

Using sandpaper to sharpen an axe is a fantastic method, but you must apply enough pressure and rub the sandpaper from the handle to the blade. Choose the best sandpaper to sharpen an axe. 

Can I sharpen a dull axe?

Yes, you can. Here it would be best if you had a coarse whetstone to sharpen the edge of a dull axe. Please point out the extreme edge and apply a sewing machine or honing oil. Later, rub the whetstone’s tip along the edge in a circular motion. 

How well a knife sharpener works to sharpen an axe? 

It would be best if you didn’t choose knife sharpeners over whetstone or any sharpening stone. A knife sharpener can’t be used appropriately because some knife sharpeners don’t have the perfect angle to put a good edge on the axe. 

How can I maintain my axe to make it more durable? 

An axe can last a lifetime if you care for it properly. You can make it more durable in so many ways, and among them, one way is to sharpen the axe yourself, as it is an easy DIY task that anybody can do.


An axe is a highly effective tool for many woodworking or metalworking purposes. It would be best if you cared for this tool enough so that it doesn’t get dull and perform suitably on your projects. Hopefully, all your queries regarding how to sharpen an axe without tools have been answered in this content. Whatever method you try, make sure the tool you use to sharpen the axe doesn’t ruin the edge of the axe.

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Hey, I'm George Fanton. I've over nine years of experience in the woodworking industry. I've cultivated a deep interest in practical wood and tasks. I enjoy sharing new information on woodworking technology to maintain my expertise in the current woodworking industries.

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