10 Best Axe Sharpeners 2021 – Top Picks & Reviews
You may have heard this old quote from none other than Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Luckily, with modern tools, you won’t need to spend anywhere near that amount of time sharpening your axe, but the sentiment remains the same.
Attempting to fell a tree with a dull axe is a futile and exhausting effort, which is why it’s important to keep your axe’s blade sharp at all times. Today, many tools exist to perform this task, but we wanted to know which ones were the best. We just so happened to have several dull axes laying around and quite a few trees that needed some chopping.
The following 10 reviews will share what we learned on our quest to find the best axe sharpener of all. Some were awesome, others awful, but we’ll leave you with our recommendations to make sure you can pick the right one without performing so much physical labor!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Fiskars 1000601 XSharp Axe Sharpener||
|Best Value||Lansky Puck Dual Grit Multi-Purpose Sharpener||
|Premium Choice||Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener||
|Gransfors Bruks 4034 Sharpening Stone||
|Sharp Pebble Ax Sharpening Stone||
The 10 Best Axe Sharpeners – Reviews 2021
1. Fiskars 1000601 XSharp Axe Sharpener – Best Overall
We tested a lot of different sharpeners on our search for the best, but the Fiskars XSharp Axe Sharpener was our absolute favorite. Most similar sharpeners feature metal blades instead of the ceramic you’ll find in this Fiskars unit, and that’s one thing that sets it apart. Metal blades remove a lot of metal from your axe without giving that fine, sharp edge. Ceramic, however, is the opposite. It’s not great for removing a lot of metal, but it will give you a very sharp, clean cutting edge.
This sharpener is very easy to use for axes, knives, and other blades. It’s got non-slip pads to keep it stable, allowing you to set it on a flat surface and pull the blade of your axe through the notched groove. We found that it was large enough to keep our hand clear of the blade but still small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket for field use.
After sharpening quite a few blades with our Fiskars sharpener, we disassembled it for a good cleaning. It was a bit of a pain to put back together, but that’s really our only complaint about this excellent axe sharpener.
2. Lansky Puck Dual Grit Multi-Purpose Sharpener – Best Value
Talk to an old tradesman and you’re likely to hear them reminiscing about the good old days before all this technology took over. While the technology can certainly make things a lot easier, there are sometimes when the old way just works, such as this Lansky Puck Dual Grit Multi-Purpose Sharpener. It’s a very basic whetstone that you hold in your hand and run along the edge of your blade to sharpen it.
We were quite impressed with how well this stone works, especially considering the dirt-cheap price. It works on any tool with a blade since you don’t have to worry about the blade fitting into any notches or slots.
Each side of this stone is a different grit. One side is a coarse 120-grit for removing burrs and the other side is a bit smoother at 280-grit for creating the fine edge. Altogether, we think this is one of the best axe sharpeners for the money, though you’ll need to be careful with your exposed fingers since there’s no handle!
3. Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener – Premium Choice
If you have a ton of axes to sharpen or you just don’t feel applying the extra effort that hand-sharpening takes, then you might consider the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener. It’s the most expensive sharpener on our list, but it also takes all the labor out of sharpening an axe.
This is a powerful tool that works essentially like a belt sander for blades. It’s got several different sharpening guards to allow for precise angles on a variety of different blades. However, an axe blade won’t fit in one of these guides. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck though! Simply turn the tool sideways and lay the belt perpendicular to your axes blade and it will allow you to easily and quickly shape the edge to your preference.
One nice thing about this tool is its versatility. Other blade sharpeners are just blade sharpeners, but this one can also double as a handheld detail grinder for other projects you might be working on. Best of all, this tool keeps your fingers clear of the blade so you’re unlikely to have any accidents while sharpening with it.
4. Gransfors Bruks 4034 Sharpening Stone
At first, we balked at the insane price of the Gransfors Bruks 4034 sharpening stone. It’s nearly as expensive as machine-powered sharpeners that we’ve used, though it seems like it’s just a simple stone! In reality, it’s much more than that. Indeed, it’s a simple tool, but it’s also a very effective tool that will likely last a lifetime.
This stone features two grits. There’s a coarse 180-grit side that removes a lot of metal quickly, and a finer 600-grit side that helps you achieve a fine, sharp edge. It’s designed for wet and dry use, though we recommend always using it wet to prolong its lifespan.
Since it’s so simple, this stone will work with any type of metal blade. It’s also small enough to slip into your pocket for use in the field. But the number one draw of this tool is the incredible edges it helps you create. The blades we sharpened with this stone had the sharpest, smoothest, finest edges of any sharpener we used. Even still, it’s hard to justify such an outrageous price.
5. Sharp Pebble Ax Sharpening Stone
There was a lot to like about the Sharp Pebble Ax Sharpening Stone, but not enough to earn it a spot in our top three. It’s a basic whetstone, though it’s pretty sizable at about 7” x 2” x 1”. It’ll be a bit obtrusive in your pocket, so it’s probably not the best option to bring into the field.
Included with this sharpening stone is a non-slip rubber base that the stone fits inside. This is great for sharpening most blades, but not much use with an axe since you’ll be better off dragging the stone along the axe, rather than dragging the axe along the stone.
What’s nice is that this product is a universal fit. It will work with any type of metal blade, unlike many products with shaped slots that the blade must fit into. But it’s pretty expensive for an axe sharpener. Worse, ours wasn’t flat when it arrived, so we had to shape it before we could use it. It’s still a great product, but these flaws held it back.
6. SHARPAL 103N All-in Multi-Sharpener
The SHARPAL 103N All-in Multi-Sharpener is a versatile tool that’s meant to work with all types of metal blades. It’s got several different slots for the blades to slide through, which are meant to provide specific angles for different types of blades. While we like the concept and it works pretty decently, many blades don’t fit in their intended slots.
Once we found an appropriate slot for the axe blade, it was very slow going with this tool. Pass after pass, we checked the blade, but very little progress was made. Eventually, we got the job done, but there are too many sharpeners that worked faster and with less effort for us to recommend this one.
7. Crescent Nicholson Rectangular Double/Single Cut Axe File
Files are a basic, versatile tool that can be used for sharpening any type of blade, including axes, knives, gardening tools, and more. This one is 8 inches long, giving you plenty of blade to work with. One face is single-cut for providing a clean, finished edge and the other side is double-cut for removing more material.
This is a Nicholson chisel, and they’re known for being high quality. In fact, it’s even covered by a standard limited lifetime warranty. But we weren’t terribly impressed with this tool.
Our first issue is with the double-cut side. The second cut is barely there, so it’s not as effective at removing material as we’d like. We also weren’t thrilled with the handle, which has sharp sides that aren’t comfortable to hold.
Worst of all, the metal of this file wasn’t hard enough to work on some of our old hardened-steel axes. They chewed right through this file! It didn’t have any trouble with the softer metal in our newer axes, but if you have any antique axes that still see regular action, this file probably won’t work with their hardened heads.
8. Smith’s 50582 Axe Sharpener
Made specifically for sharpening axes and machetes, this tool from Smith feels cheap and cheesy as soon as you hold it. It’s a big, plastic, yellow tool with an oversized handle that’s easy to hold, even with gloves on. Likewise, the oversized safety guard is meant to help protect your fingers in case of a mishap.
Inside the plastic housing is a set of replaceable carbide blades. While they do remove a lot of metal, they don’t make a clean or sharp edge. Instead, we got a rough, ragged edge that was only sharp because of the burrs.
Missing from this sharpener is any way to smooth out the finished blade. Most sharpening stones include 2 grits so you can finish the edge after removing material, but this one doesn’t and it’s a major drawback.
9. Work Sharp Handheld Pivot Pro Tool Sharpener
The Work Sharp Handheld Pivot Pro Tool Sharpener seemed like a great tool when we first got it. However, we quickly realized that it’s not a great tool for axe sharpening. Overall, it is an excellent sharpener for most blades, but it’s not one we’d choose as an axe sharpener.
This tool has different slots for knives and tools. There’s also a diamond plate on the bottom that can be used for sharpening just about any type of blade, including an axe. But it offers just one grit and it covers only a small section of the bottom of the tool. It also makes this design much less pocket friendly, though the open blades don’t help in that regard either. Moreover, it’s not a comfortable way to sharpen since you have to hold the axe in one hand and the sharpener in the other to use it properly.
10. SHARPAL 112N 3-In-1 Axe Tool Sharpener
The SHARPAL 112N 3-In-1 Axe and Tool Sharpener is uniquely shaped. It’s got a large handle that will easily fit a gloved hand with an oversized safety guard to protect your fingers. You’ll find several different sharpeners designed for sharpening different types of tools. They’re even preset with the optimal sharpening angle. But none of that was enough for this sharpener to compare favorably against the others we tested.
To start, it’s more expensive than a lot of the competition. Of course, that would be forgivable, if it gave us razor-sharp blades. Unfortunately, it didn’t. It did take off a lot of metal though! We could see our blades rapidly shrinking when using this sharpener.
At first, we thought the angle might not work with the axe we were using, so we tried a few more. The results were the same with all of them. The SHARPAL sharpener removed a lot of metal but left a rough edge that wasn’t sharp, which is how it earned its spot at the bottom of our list.
It doesn’t require any modern technology to sharpen an axe. After all, axes aren’t even modern technology. These ancient tools have been in use since as early as 6,000 B.C.E., albeit in a very primitive form.
Even though sharpening an axe isn’t rocket science, there’s still a bit of an art to it and not all sharpening tools can account for that. There are angles to consider, variations between blades, and more. Your sharpener needs to give you some versatility to account for different situations when you need to take off more blade, remove a burr, or simply sharpen just the very edge without removing any metal.
In this short buyer’s guide, we’re going to discuss the different types of axe sharpeners to help you get better acquainted with each so you can make a more informed decision about which one you need.
Types of Axe Sharpeners
The axe sharpeners that we tested fall into three main categories. Each has its drawbacks and advantages, though all make perfectly usable tools. Take a close look at the differences between each to determine which one will best fit your needs.
Stones have long been used as one of the main ways to sharpen any type of blade. Just find a hard stone and drag the edge of your blade along it to make it sharper. It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the basic gist of it.
Sharpening stones today are much improved from the basic rocks you might find down by the river. These stones are man made, which allows for more uniform hardness and pore size throughout the stone. They’re very durable and last a long time. They also come in various sizes from pocket-sized stones you can take in the field to much larger ones that are better left in the workshop.
Modern sharpening stones are usually different grits on either side, so you can have one side for quickly shaping the blade and a finer side for shaping and finishing the edge. They will work with any type of metal blade since there are no slots to fit in.
But it requires more skill to use a whetstone than most of the sharpening tools on the market. There are also no safety features, so you need to be very careful because it’s easy to cut yourself.
Handheld Sharpening Tools
Affordably priced and versatile, handheld sharpening tools make up a large part of the market today. They come in all shapes and sizes with some being clearly more effective than others. In general, they’re affordably priced with some great safety features built-in to make sure you don’t lose any fingers while sharpening your axe
Handheld sharpeners usually have several different sets of sharpening guides, which are essentially slots that different blades fit into. Inside the slots are blades that are set to a specific angle for removing metal and shaping the blade.
What’s disappointing is that you generally get little to no control over the shape of the edge or how much metal is removed; these are preset. Some remove too much metal, rapidly shrinking your blade. Many will only remove metal but never seem to sharpen the blade as we’d like since there’s often no way to smooth and finish the edge.
Most of these tools are designed to be held while you use them. This might work great with a knife, but the way many of them are designed makes this very difficult with an axe. For axe sharpening, it’s best if either the axe or the sharpener can be firmly planted on a stable surface, but that’s often difficult with many of these handheld sharpening tools.
We haven’t seen many dedicated blade sharpeners in power tool form, but there are a few and they make quick work of any blade thanks to powerful motors that can work much faster than any human arm. You could alternatively use a grinder or something similar, but that’s not going to give you a nice clean edge like a powered sharpener.
These machines get the job done with almost no effort on your part. They work quickly and efficiently, sharpening nearly any type of blade in a few minutes. There are blade guides built-in for sharpening certain types of blades, but larger blades like axe blades won’t fit in these guides so you’ll have to use the machine more like a belt sander. This still works quite well, but you’ll have to eyeball the shaping of the blade.
Since you need electricity to power one of these machines, it’s not the type of sharpener you can take in the field to keep your blade sharp during work. They’re also the most expensive type of sharpeners, though some whetstones can ironically come close in price. Powered sharpeners are great tools, though they’re probably an overkill if you don’t have dozens of blades in need of sharpening.
There are many ways to sharpen your axe. You could use a grinder, a file, or even a rock that you found outside. But if you want to get the sharpest axe in the most efficient way, then the tool you need is somewhere in this list of reviews.
For us, the number one choice is the Fiskars XSharp Axe and Knife Sharpener. It features a ceramic sharpener for a smooth, fine edge, and no-slip pads for ease of use. It’s large enough to keep your fingers clear of the blade and small enough to slip into your pocket for field use.
Looking to save a few bucks? Then we suggest the Lansky Puck. This sharpening stone works on any type of metal blade and features dual grits for removing and shaping metal. Best of all, it’s one of the cheapest choices available.
If you want to conserve all of your energy for using the axe rather than sharpening it, you might try the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener. This machine sharpens edges quickly with very little effort. It keeps your fingers clear of the blade and doubles as a handheld detail grinder to help with your other projects.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Axe Sharpeners – Reviews 2021
- 1. Fiskars 1000601 XSharp Axe Sharpener – Best Overall
- 2. Lansky Puck Dual Grit Multi-Purpose Sharpener – Best Value
- 3. Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener – Premium Choice
- 4. Gransfors Bruks 4034 Sharpening Stone
- 5. Sharp Pebble Ax Sharpening Stone
- 6. SHARPAL 103N All-in Multi-Sharpener
- 7. Crescent Nicholson Rectangular Double/Single Cut Axe File
- 8. Smith’s 50582 Axe Sharpener
- 9. Work Sharp Handheld Pivot Pro Tool Sharpener
- 10. SHARPAL 112N 3-In-1 Axe Tool Sharpener
- Buyer’s Guide