10 Best Axe Sharpeners 2023 – Top Picks & Reviews
You may have heard this old quote from 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 essential 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 and quite a few trees that needed chopping.
The following 10 reviews will share what we learned on our quest to find the best axe sharpener. Some were awesome, others were not, but we’ll leave you with our recommendations to ensure you can pick the right one!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|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
1. Fiskars 1000601 XSharp Axe Sharpener – Best Overall
We tested several sharpeners in our search, but the Fiskars XSharp Axe Sharpener was our favorite and the best overall. Most similar sharpeners feature metal blades instead of the ceramic you’ll find in this Fiskars unit, which sets it apart. Metal blades remove a lot of metal from your axe without giving that fine, sharp edge. Ceramics, however, remove much less. It’s not great for removing much metal, but it will give you a sharp, clean cutting edge.
This sharpener is very easy to use for axes, knives, and other blades. It has 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 it was large enough to keep our hand clear of the blade but small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket for field use.
After sharpening several blades with our Fiskars sharpener, we disassembled it for a good cleaning. It was a bit of a pain to put it back together, but that’s 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’ll likely hear them reminiscing about the good old days before technology took over. While the technology can certainly make things a lot easier, sometimes 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 is a bit smoother at 280-grit for creating a 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
This powerful tool works essentially like a belt sander for blades. It has multiple sharpening guards to allow for precise angles on various blades. However, an axe blade won’t fit in one of these guides. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, however. Simply turn the tool sideways and lay the belt perpendicular to your ax blade, allowing 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, the Work Sharp 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 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 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 7” x 2” x 1”. It’ll be a bit obtrusive in your pocket, so it’s probably not the best stone to bring into the field.
The Sharp Pebble includes a non-slip rubber base and two sharpening stones: #400 on one side and #1000 on the other. The Sharp Pebble is great for sharpening most blades but not much use with an axe since you’re better off dragging the stone along the axe rather than dragging the axe along the stone.
What’s nice is that the Sharp Pebble is versatile. 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, and ours wasn’t flat when it arrived, so we had to shape it before using 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 metal blades. It has several slots for the blades to slide through, which are meant to provide specific angles for different blades. While we like the concept, and it works okay, 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 sharpen any blade, including axes, knives, gardening tools, and more. This one is 8 inches long, which provides plenty of blade to work with. One face is single-cut for a clean, finished edge, and the other is double-cut for removing more material.
This is a Nicholson chisel, and they’re known for being high quality. It’s covered by a standard limited lifetime warranty, but we weren’t terribly impressed with it.
Our first issue is 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 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 a mishap.
Inside the plastic housing is a set of replaceable carbide blades. While the Smith removes a lot of metal, it doesn’t make a clean or sharp edge. Instead, we got a rough, ragged edge that was only sharp because of the burrs.
The sharpener lacks a surface 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 significant drawback.
9. Work Sharp Handheld Pivot Pro Tool Sharpener
The Work Sharp Handheld Pivot Pro Tool Sharpener seemed great 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.
The Work Sharp has different slots for knives and tools. There’s also a diamond plate on the bottom that can sharpen just about any type of blade, including an axe. But it offers just one grit and covers only a tiny 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.
10. SHARPAL 112N 3-In-1 Axe Tool Sharpener
The SHARPAL 112N 3-In-1 Axe and Tool Sharpener is uniquely shaped. It has a large handle that easily fits a gloved hand with an oversized safety guard to protect your fingers. It includes several settings for sharpening different tools, and the plates are 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 most of the competition. Of course, that would be forgivable if it gave us razor-sharp blades. Unfortunately, it didn’t. It took 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.
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Best Axe Sharpener
It doesn’t require modern technology to sharpen an axe. After all, axes have been used for several thousand years. These ancient tools have been used 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 the versatility to account for different situations when you need to take off more metal, remove a burr, or simply sharpen just the very edge without removing any metal.
In this short buyer’s guide, we’ll discuss the 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 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 are more intricate than the rocks you might find by the river. The stones are manufactured, 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 typically include 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 metal blade and are more versatile than pull-through sharpeners.
However, 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 must be very careful.
Handheld Sharpening Tools
Handheld sharpening tools make up a large part of the market today. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some are 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 sets of sharpening guides. Inside the slots are blades 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 since you can’t adjust the angle. Some remove too much metal, rapidly shrinking your blade. Many will only remove metal but never seem to sharpen the blade since there’s often no way to smooth and finish the edge.
Handheld sharpeners might work great with a knife, but the way many of them are designed makes it 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 handheld sharpening tools.
We haven’t seen many 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. Alternatively, you could use a grinder or something similar, but that won’t 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 blade in a few minutes. There are built-in blade guides for sharpening certain 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, though some whetstones are priced unusually close. Powered sharpeners are great tools, though they’re probably unnecessary if you don’t have dozens of blades that need sharpening.
There are many ways to sharpen your axe. You could use a grinder, a file, or even a rock you found outside. But if you want to get the sharpest axe in the most efficient way, 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. 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 metal blade and features dual grits for removing and shaping metal. Best of all, it’s one of the cheapest stones available.
If you want to conserve all of your energy by using the axe rather than sharpening it, you might try the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener. It sharpens edges quickly with minimal effort. It keeps your fingers clear of the blade and doubles as a handheld detail grinder to help with your other projects.