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How do you sharpen an adze?

How to sharpen an adze?

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Image of a DIYer with an adze so sharp they can use it shave the hair off their arm Keeping your adze sharp is the best way to make your life easy when planing or sculpting – a sharper adze will always be more accurate and will help you to complete the task you’re working on more quickly.

Sharpening an adze

Image of a bench-mounted grinder

Step 1 – Set up

To sharpen your adze, you’ll need a grinder.

Image of an adze head being held securely in a vice If your grinder is hand-held, you will need to make sure that your adze head is secured in a vice.
Wonkee Donkee explains that the images in the guide only show a bench moutned grinder but the principle is the same with a hand-held grinder
Image to show the difference between inside and oustide bevelled adzes Take a look at your tool to see if it has an outside or an inside bevel. You should be able to see by looking at the tool side on.
Image of a black marker pen Mark the edge that you’ll be grinding with a black marker pen. This will make it easy to see which parts of the tool have been sharpened at a glance, if you have to step away from the grinder for any reason.
Image showing a 100 grit grinding wheel A 100 grit grinding wheel is ideal for the job.
Image showing a DIYer taking care to sharpen the blade evenly by moving it from side to side across the grinder

Step 2 – Initial sharpening

Move your blade across the grinder to make sure it sharpens evenly. If you’re sharpening a lipped adze, you’ll need to twist the tool. If it’s flat, you’ll just be moving it from side to side.

Image showing how to sharpen an inside bevelled adze by bracing the handle against the grinder's safety guard If you’re sharpening an inside bevel on a lipped adze, you may be able to rest the handle of the adze against the safety guard on the grinder while you’re sharpening the blade.
Image of a cat leaning on a DIYer in the same way a DIYer can lean an adze handle against the safety guard on a grinder This will help you to sharpen the inside curve of the tool without ruining the shape as it will give you something steady to lean on.
Image of an adze handle accidentally being ground down with a grinder Check that you can do this safely before turning your grinder on.

If the handle of the tool comes into contact with the grinding wheel, then you need to come up with a new plan, or you’ll ruin your handle instead of sharpening your blade!

Thumbs up! You can move onto the next step! Once you’ve sharpened your tool to the point where your black marker line has disappeared, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Wonkee Donkee warns against overheating your adze head

Removing burrs

Image of a DIYer holding their adze up to the light

Step 3 – Check for burr

If you check the tool by holding it up to the light, you’ll probably notice that there’s a ‘burr’ along the edge of it, which will need to be removed.

Image to illustrate what burr is A ‘burr’ is the name given to the tiny pieces of metal that don’t quite detach when you’re grinding or cutting a larger piece of metal.
Image of wood that has been roughed up by a badly sharpened adze Having a burr on the edge of your tool is undesirable because it will make your tool chew the wood you’re trying to smooth out, resulting in a rougher surface and defeating the object of using the adze in the first place!
Image of a DIYer turning back the burr on their recently sharpened adze blade with a stick

Step 4 – Turn burr back

A burr can be ground off your adze blade, but you first need to turn it back, as it will have folded itself under the blade. You can do this with a stick.

Image of a DIYer using a buffer wheel on their grinder to turn the burr back into a grindable position You can also do it with a buffer wheel on your grinder by running the reverse side of your blade across the grinder wheel.
Image of a DIYer using the buffer wheel on their grinder to remove burr

Step 5 – Remove burr

Once the burr has been turned back, use the buffer wheel on your grinder to go over the edge you originally sharpened.

Image of a DIYer checking for burr by using their fingernail

Step 6 – Repeat until no burr remains

Repeat this process until the burr has been completely removed. You can check to see if it has gone by holding your tool up to the light, or by carefully running your fingernail along the edge of the blade.

Removing nicks

Image of an adze head with nicks in the blade If there are any nicks in the blade, you can remove them by sharpening it.
Image of an overzealous DIYer grinding their adze head away to nothing Rather than drawing a black marker line along the edge of the tool, draw one that goes back behind the nick. You can then grind it out of the tool using the process described above.
  Wonkee Donkee officially brings a close to the proceedings

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