Breitaxt, (broadaxe), and Its Bevel

As we know it by now the breitaxt – sticking with the original German – is crucially a single beveled axe. In our last few meetings it has been about the broad and non-beveled, what I so much like calling, “back-side” of the axe, (but more on that is coming). I have given attention now to this beveled side, one might almost call it the third side that’s been attended to on this refurbishment: As a review I repeat,

1. Edge

An edge that is no edge.

2. Back-side

Flattening at the back.

3. Bevel

Bevel, or the negation of step #1.

I’ll be open about it and put it right up front that I began this bevel work at the water cooled, low rpm, grinding machine. I began even earlier, with the full intention of having the sharpening shop do the initial grind but my lack of faith – sorely tested – in that option given the nature (compound forge welded construction) of the axe was the motivation to do it myself.

Grinding free-handed at the grinder was not going well and thinking on the other possibilities it struck me to try a file.


With the back-side duly protected from getting scratched I configured a clamping solution which was awkward yet effective in the sharpening room, the edge of the axe well clear of the bench so I had room to get at it.


I kept watch on the edge by highlighting it from the side with a small light to show spots calling out for additional file attention.


This proved helpful in light of my failing eye-sight and the ambient lighting conditions of the metal shop which is also the horse stall.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The file as shown by the filings in the previous photos and the deep cuts to the bevel’s surface in the preceding one works fast at removing the steel. It proves to be one of the good and suitable methods in this instance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here is the final indication that the conditions have been established where a keen and durable cutting edge can be got at. I’m referring pointedly to the visible wire edge now perceptible from around on the back-side. At this point it is rough and non-continuous due to the course file work but with stone work will be getting in good condition for indicating a sharp edge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere the edge visible through at the back of the lighter colored blurred wire edge down lower in the photo that will now be worked till it falls off, (this being a look along the back side of the blade).


By the way, the final punctuation ending the previous paragraph is not some kind of snaggel-toothed emotiecon for your information but actual punctuation.


4 thoughts on “Breitaxt, (broadaxe), and Its Bevel

  1. I like filing because of the control. I hate filing if I don’t have a good file.

    Finding a quality file here in the US has become a serious challenge. For years, Nicholson files made in the US and available at any local hardware store, were sufficient for these types of applications. Alas, it has been a number of years since they ceased US production and the quality of their product is terrible. I look for used files whenever the opportunity presents itself and have used the simple acid “sharpening” to breathe new life into those that have not been abused. I would be interested in hearing from any of your US readers if they have found a brand of quality file in the US that is readily available.

    I got a good chuckle out of your punctuation clarification.


    1. Your complaint and the response you get from me are timely in the context of most recent nonsense coming out the mouth of US Republican president Trump. Buy German. Dick GmbH will serve you and your fellow Americans well and offers fine files made in Switzerland.

      Ok, I say it as a bit of a joke P~M`B, chuckling along with you, but there you have it in essence. I once bought a new file at one tin box hardware store, brand name Bacho with renowned Swedish connections. Not even new from the shelf was it any good. The Swiss file I use on this axe has seen much hard action and still is a pleasure in use.

      Remember Snaggletooth, some kind of Hannah/Barbera figure or other from a long time ago?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. EB. Yes…I believe you and I are of similar vintage (I am ’61). I well remember “Heavens to Murgatroyd” and “Exit, Stage Left”.

    Thank you. I will look at the Swiss offerings at Dick GmbH though the shipping can often cost as much as the tools.

    I visited a home-shop machinist forum and asked the same question. Sadly, there was no consensus on files sold here in the US. Many made the same comment you did about Bahco which happen to be directly available here.

    I try to envision the corporate executive meeting in which the following decision is made. “For generations, we have been known for making a high quality widget. Let’s move production to XYZ, where the labor dollar is X% lower and let’s eliminate the majority of the quality process and material controls that have given our product its reputation. It will take the consumer 3 years to figure out what has happened, but we will all be retired with our golden parachutes by then. What matters right now is how Wall Street responds to our reported reduction in manufacturing costs.” Of course, those words are never used directly, but are the essence of what I have seen repeatedly over the last 20 years.

    I realize that files are hardly a sexy product but they are a fundamental tool. Maybe we will see a smaller (what we call “boutique”) manufacturer come into being here in the US as has been the case with a number of woodworking hand tools.


    1. Shipping is often the spoiler in these instances, it’s so true.
      Your illustration of capitalist, profit driven logic is self evident and yet at this stage quite benign when we consider the growth and merger of private and state domestic surveillance and counter insurgency complexes there in the USA.


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