How to Sharpen a Machete in 5 Simple Steps


To sharpen a machete, first decide which tool you’ll use: a file, belt sander, grinder, whetstone, or dremel. Next, get the motion down (it’ll be the same no matter which tool you choose) – you’ll start at the hilt and run the blade down to the tip. Remember to sharpen both sides, not just the one you’ll primarily be using. Then hone the tip of the machete into a nice point. Lastly, polish and try it out!

Not sure which tool to use? Need some more specifics about the process? Keep reading!


Tools to Sharpen a Machete:

man holding machete

Before you learn machete sharpening, you should understand the different tools to use. All of these tools can give that razor-sharp edge on your machete.


For new machete users, a file should be the first tool to try because it doesn’t require much technique. This isn’t a specialized tool and is simple to use. It’s also the most portable and can be used to improve the sharpness of your blade on the go.

There are two main categories of files, which are single-cut (has one series of parallel cuts on its face) and double-cut (has two series which crisscross). The best type of file to use is the mill file, a single-cut, 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.

Belt Sander

A belt sander is basically the power tool version of the file. It’s considered the “best value” option for sharpening a machete because it’s the easiest method, requires no expertise, and does the trick well.

It’s also the best tool for maintaining a straight edge.

You can position the belt either facing you or facing the ceiling, whichever is more comfortable for your arm.


If you want a razor-sharp machete from some more aggressive sharpening, it’s best to use a grinder. Grinders are ideal if you’re restoring an old machete or doing the initial sharpening from factory dullness, whereas other options are better for fine-tuning. A grinding wheel will remove any dullness or big nicks. 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 at a higher rpm, so either dunk the machete in water or use the grinder at a lower rpm. Some have even said sharpening with a grinder ruins the machete’s edge.


The whetstone method is also recommended for beginners. This is the traditional way of  machete-sharpening, and it doesn’t take a lot of experience or equipment.  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 part of its 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.

man using machete

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

Prepare a work area with enough space for you, your tool, and the moving machete. Cramped quarters can prove both difficult and dangerous.

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 with light pressure at your desired angle. 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 of the blade 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 the tip of the blade 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 and durable 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 create a sharpened blade and edge even more.

Check out our survival section for more. Got any tips to share on how to sharpen a machete? Sound off in the comments below.

Image sources: pixabay, pixabay, freepik

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