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How to Sharpen an Axe without Tools – 8 Awesome Methods

An Axe is an important tool in gardening and the wild. You can use an ax to chop lumber for your firewood or prune and cut a tree or its branches. An axe is only as good as its blade. Throughout usage, the blade of the axe goes blunt. We will teach you how to sharpen an axe without tools when it goes blunt.

The blade of the axe is the most integral part, and if it goes blunt, it renders the whole axe useless. Cutting will be very difficult and very imprecise. If you don’t own any fancy or expensive tool or a grinder, you have nothing to worry about! We have enlisted eight awesome methods on how to sharpen an axe without tools.

How to Sharpen an Axe without Tools

Just because you don’t own any tools doesn’t mean you cannot sharpen your axe and make it workable. Here are some creative and easy ways how to sharpen an axe without tools. In addition to written instructions, we are linking a video tutorial for your visual aid.

Tools and Safety Gear

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Clamps or Vise

At What Angle Should You Sharpen Your Axe?

While sharpening an axe, keeping it at an angle is very important. To hold the axe at a certain angle, you may use clamps or table vise to keep the axe steady. Sharpen your axe at an angle of about 30 or 40 degrees. Decrease the angle to 15 to 20 degrees as you move towards the edge.

1.     Using the Base of a Ceramic Cup

It is commonly known that ceramic is an excellent material for sharpening blades. And the most common things are often right in front of us that we tend to overlook. One such thing is a ceramic coffee mug.

Flip over your coffee mug, and you will notice a bare ceramic ring that is not glazed like the rest of the mug. This exposed ceramic ring is great for sharpening the blade of your axe.

Hold your axe at an angle to the ceramic surface and draw it back and forth across the ceramic ring. Keep switching the sides of the axe, and make sure you sharpen both the front and back surfaces of the axe.

2.     Sharpening with a Rock

Using a rock to sharpen tools has been around since ancient times. Please don’t use a very abrasive stone as it may harshly scale away from your blade and make it weak. The shape of the rock also matters as a smooth round rock is not as effective as a rock with flat edges.

Sandstone, shale, slate, and river rocks make excellent blade sharpening tools for their flat surfaces. If you don’t have access to any such rocks, you can do with the rocks you have. Just rub them together to make their surface smooth enough for grinding.

Rocks with larger sizes and flatter surfaces are best. Just place a flat rock on the ground and sharpen your axe blade against it just like you’d do with a sharpening stone.

3.     Sharpening an Axe on Concrete

You can sharpen your axe on the concrete just like the rock or any sharpening stone. Since concrete has a flat surface, it holds an advantage over using a rock.

Try to find a smooth layer of concrete, as coarse concrete will scale away from your blade. You can easily find smooth concrete surfaces on pavements and sidewalks, and even your driveway will work if it is made of concrete.

Hold the axe at an angle firmly and draw it against the surface of the concrete in a circular motion. Repeat the same process for both sides.

Don’t sharpen too aggressively or strongly, as the concrete can damage your blade.

How to Sharpen an Axe without Tools

4.     Sharpening an Axe Over a Car Window

It might sound a little too unorthodox or crazy, but you can do so using your car’s window if you need to sharpen your ax.

Just roll down your window and hold the axe at an angle over the edge of the glass window. Draw the axe in circular motions over it and repeat on both sides. Be sure to be gentle and hold the axe firmly. You don’t want to scratch anything!

5.     Using a Broken Piece of Glass

Using a broken glass bottle may not seem great, but desperate times call for desperate measures. You can use a broken glass bottle to sharpen the axe if it comes to that. You do not need to break a bottle or a glass necessarily. The surface of the rim is often unpolished. So you can use this unpolished glass surface to sharpen your axe.

Do it by holding it at an angle over the bottle rim and drawing in circular motions. Since the glass is smooth, it will take much longer to sharpen.

6.     Emery Board and Sandpaper

An emery board or a nail file can be an excellent method of sharpening your axe blade. You can find a nail file easily in a manicure set.

Lay down the emery board on the ground and draw your blade across it to sharpen it. Make sure you draw the blade an equal number of times over each side.

Emery boards often come with two sides. One is coarser, and the other is finer. Start sharpening from the coarser side and then finish off on the finer and smoother side.

Using sandpaper is also very effective and reliable. You can glue down a piece of sandpaper and sharpen your axe blade on it just like the emery board.

7.     Using a Shovel to Sharpen Your Axe

You can use a shovel or the spine of a knife to work your blade on. It won’t sharpen the blade very much, but it will at least realign it. Then you can use some other method mentioned earlier to sharpen the blade.

8.     Stropping it Using a Nylon or Leather Belt

Stropping a blade means polishing its edge using a belt usually made of leather or nylon. Use the other side of the leather belt, which is a little rough. Now secure the belt at one end and hold the other end in your hand. Strop the blade of your axe with the belt, and remember to keep the blade away from the body.

Stropping will give your ax blade a very nice finish after it has been sharpened using other methods.


You can be out camping, fishing, or just cutting the lumber in your yard. A blunt axe blade can be a great nuisance and dealbreaker. It brings down efficiency, but it can also be dangerous and cause injuries.

If you don’t have any proper tools, or perhaps you are out in the wild, and you have to improvise sharpening your axe, do not worry! We have enlisted some creative methods on how to sharpen an axe without tools. These might not be conventional or ideal, but they will get you through any difficult time with great ease.

Tell us which method did you find most effective in the comments below.