What's your angle?
Do you know the proper angle to grind your axe? Do you know that without a proper angle you may not be getting maximum benefit from your tool?
Axe grind angles vary from axe to axe. Actually any edged tool has a specific grind angle for its edge. From axes to grubbing tools to spade shovels, the grind angle matters. Making a simple angle guage is great way to keep your tools in perfect working order. This of course is not to say that we shouldn't sharpen our tools on a regular basis or that we can't sharpen them without having this information. This guage allows our tools to provide maxium benefit to us. Even the most experienced sharpener can change the bevel of a tool's edge over time, so why not correct that every once in awhile.
To begin, you will need a few items: a block of wood (1/4" to 3/4" depth), pencil, protractor (as pictured below),and a ruler.
1. Square up the piece of wood you chose - making sure the sides are parallel and the corners are 90º
2. Draw a reference line approximately 1" across the entire length of the wood
3. Using a protractor we will find the degree reading (for our purposes we will assume we need a 18º angle)
4. Draw two lines to create the total angle - dividing by 2 (18/2 = 9)
5. Set the protractor to the left side of the 90º and set to 9º and draw a line
6. Now reset the protractor to the right side of the 90º and set to 9º and draw a second line
7. Use the reference line we created earlier as a center point for the two lines to intersect
8. This "V" we created is now the full 18º angle we are looking for
9. Next use a fine tooth saw and remove the material within the "V"
10. Now you created an angle guage! Place the tip of your blade in the V to assess what your grind is looking like.
There are a few things to remember with this process! Even though we created these angle guages we need to think before we begin removing material. If it you have a very thin bit axe you may be only using the guage for the first 1/4" of the cutting edge. Where as older axes may have thicker cheeks due to years and improper sharpening. In that case, we can use the full 1" guage. Again, think before you remove material - this guage is just a referrence. Also don't be afraid to go ahead and make multiple angles on one piece of wood. It's a great tool to add to your bushman toolbox and when you are in the field you will have a simple refernce when sharpening.