Our other sites:

How to sharpen blades with a file?

Example of s blade cutting cleaner after being sharpened by a file

Bladed tools can become blunt after prolonged use. While many of them can be ground sharp, some tools benefit from the precision that files can lend to the sharpening process. Knives and axe, in particular, can be filed to a razor-sharp finish.

Why use a file to sharpen a knife?

Flat bastard file, flat 2nd cut file and flat smooth file used to sharpen a blade

Files are the best tools for sharpening the blades on saws, grinders tend to be too wide to fit into their teeth.

 

In the guides below, reducing the coarseness of the file each time you repeat the sharpening process can help you to create an extremely sharp edge.

 

For this process, you will need a single cut file of one of the following types: hand, flat or mill.

Guide to sharpening a knife with a file:

Step 1 - Secure Knife in Vice

Step 1: Secure the blade in a vice

Secure the handle of the knife you would like to sharpen in a vice so that the blade is parallel to the floor and pointing away from you.

 

Due to the shape of the knife handle, you may find that you want to use a thick piece of cloth rather than a wooden file block to keep the handle safe from damage.

Step 2: Ensure blade is secure in the vice

The knife should not be able to move forward or backwards, although you may find the blade has a little give in it as you are filing.

Secure the handle of the knife you would like to sharpen in a vice so that the blade is parallel to the floor and pointing away from you.

 

Due to the shape of the knife handle, you may find that you want to use a thick piece of cloth rather than a wooden file block to keep the handle safe from damage.

Step 1: Secure the blade in a vice

The knife should not be able to move forward or backwards, although you may find the blade has a little give in it as you are filing.

Step 2: Ensure blade is secure in the vice

Step 2 - Use a Shallow Angle

Step 3: Using a shallow angle apply the file against the blade

Holding your file at as shallow an angle as possible (almost flat to the side of the knife), cross-file the whole of the length of the knife blade. This may require more than one stroke.

Holding your file at as shallow an angle as possible (almost flat to the side of the knife), cross-file the whole of the length of the knife blade. This may require more than one stroke.

Step 3: Using a shallow angle apply the file against the blade

Step 3 - File Reverse of the Blade

Step 3b: Turn the blade over and repeat filing

Flip your knife over and repeat the process on the other side of the blade. Make sure the blade is pointing away from you when you secure it in the vice so you can file at a shallow angle.

Flip your knife over and repeat the process on the other side of the blade. Make sure the blade is pointing away from you when you secure it in the vice so you can file at a shallow angle.

Step 3b: Turn the blade over and repeat filing

Step 4 - Remove Foil

Step 4: Remove the foil or burring from the blade

Filing in this way causes a unique type of burr, called a ‘foil’, to form along the edge of the blade. This can look like a thin piece of metal string, or as if your knife is producing a small amount of kitchen foil from the edge of the blade! You can carefully remove this by pulling it away.

Filing in this way causes a unique type of burr, called a ‘foil’, to form along the edge of the blade. This can look like a thin piece of metal string, or as if your knife is producing a small amount of kitchen foil from the edge of the blade! You can carefully remove this by pulling it away.

Step 4: Remove the foil or burring from the blade

Step 5 - Repeat as Desired

Step 5: Test the blades sharpness by cutting material

Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until you are happy that your knife is sharp enough. You can test it by checking to see how well it cuts through paper.

Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until you are happy that your knife is sharp enough. You can test it by checking to see how well it cuts through paper.

Step 5: Test the blades sharpness by cutting material

How do you sharpen an axe a file?

The concepts behind this process are the same as knife sharpening. However, as axes have curved blades, there are some slight differences.

 

Step 1 - Secure Axe in Vice

Step 1: Secure the axe in a vice

Using thick cloth instead of a filing block to protect your axe head, secure it in the vice with the blade pointing towards the ceiling.

Using thick cloth instead of a filing block to protect your axe head, secure it in the vice with the blade pointing towards the ceiling.

Step 1: Secure the axe in a vice

Step 2 - Semicircular Filing

Using a semicircular angle file the axe

Rest the file’s handle or tang against the edge of the vice securely so that you can trace the file across the whole length of the axe blade like a windscreen wiper.


By using this technique, you are sharpening by draw filing. It needs to be performed on both sides of the blade.

Rest the file’s handle or tang against the edge of the vice securely so that you can trace the file across the whole length of the axe blade like a windscreen wiper.

 

By using this technique, you are sharpening by draw filing. It needs to be performed on both sides of the blade.

Using a semicircular angle file the axe

Step 3 - Repeat as Desired

Repeat the process of filing the axe to sharpen until desired sharpness

Repeat step 2 until you are happy that your axe is sharp enough. You can then remove the burr from the edge of the blade using the buffing wheel on a grinder.

 

You can test it by checking to see how well it cuts through a piece of paper in the exact same way as a knife.

Repeat step 2 until you are happy that your axe is sharp enough. You can then remove the burr from the edge of the blade using the buffing wheel on a grinder.

 

You can test it by checking to see how well it cuts through a piece of paper in the exact same way as a knife.

Repeat the process of filing the axe to sharpen until desired sharpness