Machetes are a commonly used knife, and there’s a good chance you’ve probably used one. Machetes can cut through lots of things — from unwanted branches and hedges to the bush on a farm. But first, you need to know how to sharpen a machete.
Machetes are powerful tools due to their shape and length. The average machete is between 20 and 24 inches long and is about 0.2 inches thick. If your blade runs dull, you can always buy a new one. But why spend the money? Even if you don’t need a razor-sharp edge, most people will find it more useful to know how to sharpen a machete.
Tools to Sharpen a Machete:
Before you learn how to sharpen a machete, you should understand the different tools to use. All of these tools can give that razor-sharp edge on your machete.
If you’re just now learning how to sharpen a machete, a file should be the first tool to try. This isn’t a specialized tool and is simple to use. The best type of file to use is the mill file, which is commonly used to sharpen blades.
You’ll get the best results when you place the knife in a vice. This secures the knife and angles it, so you get the desired effect. If you don’t have a vice, you can secure the machete on another surface or in your hands (only if you’re experienced). All you have to do is push the file over the blade repeatedly.
If you want a razor-sharp machete, it’s best to use a grinder. A grinder will remove any dullness and larger nicks. Grinders are also ideal if you’re restoring an old machete. The only downside is that grinders take a lot of work, so it’s best you have experience using a grinder first.
You’ll also want to ensure you’re in a spacious workspace. Run the machete across the grinder to get an even edge. Keep in mind the machete overheats easily, so either dunk the machete in water or use a slow grinder. Some have even said sharpening with a grinder ruins the machete’s edge.
The whetstone method is also recommended for beginners. This is the classic machete-sharpening method, and it doesn’t take a lot of experience and hardly any equipment is required. The only tool you’ll need is a special whetstone, or a normal water stone will also work. All you have to do is move the blade up and down the stone.
A Dremel is a handheld power tool with a knife sharpener at the end of the shaft. It sounds intimidating, but it’s easy enough for beginners. The only downside of the method is it often results in an uneven edge. Place the knife in a vice and run the Dremel laterally on the blade.
How to Sharpen a Machete:
5 Steps to Follow:
Now that you know your different tool options, you’re ready to learn how to sharpen a machete. The whole process is easy to learn by following simple steps.
STEP 1: Get the Motion Down
Regardless of the tool you use, you will move the machete over the tool in the same motion. Start at the hilt and run the blade down to the tip. You’ll want to follow the natural curve of the blade. Don’t be surprised if you have to lean your body forward to reach this curve.
If you want a specific angle, set the machete in a vice so you get the desired look.
STEP 2: Change Sides
Sharpening a machete doesn’t only involve sharpening the side you’re likely cutting with. You should also sharpen the other side. Flip over the machete and follow the same motion down the other side.
If you’re a beginner or you don’t use your machete often, you can skip this step. That’s because sharpening this side is a little different. The top side doesn’t have as much of a curve, meaning you have to sharpen it differently.
Sharpening the top side may take some time getting used to. But sharpening the less dominant side results in a precise and even blade.
STEP 3: Hone the Edge
Honing the edge gives your machete a nice, sharp point. This motion is easy. Start at the edge and move down slightly from the tip, only focusing on bringing your machete to a nice point.
STEP 4: Polishing the Edge
This step isn’t necessary but it’s helpful.
The only downside of sharping a machete is sometimes the process leaves imperfections. You can remove these flaws by polishing the machete, specifically the edge. The best way to polish the machete is with a buffing wheel.
Place the edge of the machete flat against the buffing wheel and move the machete perpendicular across the wheel. Do this on both sides of the machete.
STEP 5: Test the Machete
Now comes the fun part! You’ll want to test the machete to ensure the blade is sharp enough. The best way to test a machete is by cutting a 2×4. See if you can cut the 2×4 in half.
If not, try the paper trick. Run a piece of paper along the machete’s edge. If it drags the paper rather than slicing it, you’ll need to sharpen your machete even more.
Use your preferred tool and repeat steps 1-4. You can also use a diamond stone that can sharpen the blade and edge even more.
How to Sharpen a Machete:
Time to Get Started:
Do you now know how to sharpen a machete? The process is easier than you would expect. First, choose your desired tool. Then, set up your knife and start sharpening it. Sharpen both sides of the knife and the tip.
If necessary, polish the knife before trying it out. From here, put your machete through a few tests and see if it’s sharp enough. Examples include cutting a 2×4 and the paper test. If it’s not sharp enough, repeat the steps over again. Do you want more advice on choosing and maintaining knives?
Our survival section has many knife resources that will help you. Got any tips to share on how to sharpen a machete? Sound off in the comments below.
Featured image by: Freepik
Jonathan O’Ryan is what you might call a seasonal digital nomad. When he is not thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or finetuning his custom UL camping gear in the middle of nowhere, he comfortably sits at his home desk – yes, he still has a physical address, we don’t know for how long though – sharing his insights on all things outdoors with Wilderness Today’s audience. We know life is an adventure, Jon, but we’d still like to have that urgent work email answered by noon.