Sit. Rep. #98: Axe & Hatchet Sharpening I

1- Sharpening an axe or hatchet with a hand file.  Simple enough – just file away till you get the axe sharp.  But let’s take a more in-depth look and refine our technique with knowledge, skills, and practice.  I will break this down into 2 Sit. Reps.  First the history and foundation information.

2- Back in the old, old days there was just iron.  Iron was being used as farming tools and as weapons as far back as 1200 to 1500 BC (maybe earlier depending on who you read).  Iron is an element, Fe, on the chemical periodic table.  The ancient civilizations heated iron ore in an oven to produce iron.  Sometimes it took several melting’s through the oven to get the iron right. Steel is iron with impurities deliberately introduced at precise points in the production process.  The most used impurity is carbon that made the steel stronger and able to hold an edge.  Like the cutting edge of a sword or a plowshare.

3-  There were incremental improvements in iron and steel production by adding different chemicals, mixing at different temperatures, using different process equipment, and using different processes.  There are about 3,500 different kinds of steel.  What kind and grade of steel that you may see are determined by many differing and variable inputs.

Such as:  The quality of / how much (a percentage) iron was in the ore, the other chemical elements in the iron ore, kind of fuel was used in the heating processes, how hot was the furnace, how much air was used in the heating process, how many times was the iron ore reheated, how are the impurities removed, which part of the reaction vessel did the melted ore come from, what kind of material was the reaction vessel made out of, was the ore heated in a oxygen rich environment, or was the ore heated in an oxygen starved environment (anaerobic), was the steel pounded or hammered (think blacksmith hammering), was the steel coated, was the steel quenched ( how was it quenched, into what cooling agent was it quenched, and how fast was it quenched ), was the steel heat treated after the initial process, was the steel vacuum treated, and on and on…  The research and metallurgy of steel continues.

There are many different qualities of steel.  This list contains: hardness, tensile strength, compressive strength, melting point, corrosion-resistant. durable, weldability, ductility, machinability, draw ability, bendability, wear resistance, elongation, weight, density, fatigue resistance, temperature co-efficient, and performance at temperature extremes.

4- That introduction may have seemed like a lot of “blah, blah, blah…”  I wanted you to know a little bit about the materials that you are going to be using.  Files and stones themselves are another whole level of expertise.  Here are 2 links:  One from AxeThis on sharpening stonesanother from KMSTools on hand files.

More tomorrow on Axe and Hatchet sharpening.

Semper Paratus,

G: what do you call it when it rains Godzilla Monsters?
H: A Lizard Blizzard.

Ranger Skits by Thomas Mercaldo

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