How To Sharpen a Machete

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a machete is usually used to crush and/or remove smaller branches, roots or slightly thicker scrub. Nevertheless, the cutting of the machetes wears off over time and a new perfect ground is required. Due to repeated use, minor damage to the cutting edges can also occur over time, so-called shavings and breakouts. This is why you need to understand how to sharpen a machete properly.

You should always avoid using the machetes in areas for which they are not designed and suitable, for example for splitting wood, etc. There are hatchets and axes that would be especially suitable for this. Improper use can lead to damage up to total loss.

General information about sharpening the machete

In order to achieve a good result when sharpening the machete, the original cut should still be preserved. To avoid bending the cutting edge, the cutting edge receives a trigger with a steeper angle (right figure). After the trigger with the right cutting angle, this can also be maintained by the layman.

When does a knife need to be sharpened?

First, you need to carefully examine the knife blade to decide how much the knife should be sharpened.

How do I test the blade?

To determine whether your machete needs to be sharpened, you can test it out using these methods:

  • Place the blade lightly on your thumb nail and slide it away from you. If the blade slides over the nail without catching, its edge will most likely be blunt.
  • For the second test, you will need a piece of paper. Hold it in front of you and cut the blade from your hand. If you do not cut the paper under the pressure of the knife, the problem again lies in the sharpened knife blade. More in the article on how to test the sharpness of a knife.
  • It is best to test the cut with a knife on materials such as vegetables, rope or cardboard. If you have to use a lot of force when cutting or if you need to “saw”, this means again – a little sharpened blade.

Blade angle

The angle of the blade varies depending on the style and use of the knife. These angles are usually in the range of 10 to 35 degrees. The 10-degree angle is a very fine edge (imagine a razor). A much larger angle, such as 35 degrees, is on a thick blade like a machete. 

The larger the angle, the more durable the edge, which means that even harder cutting material can withstand. The smaller the angle, the finer and more accurate the cut becomes. Both angles of the blade stay sharp longer if you use them for proper cutting purposes. When deciding what angle you want to have on your knife, you just need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The rule you need to follow is:

  • 17 – 20 degrees for the kitchen knives
  • 22 – 35 degrees for the outdoor knives
  • 30 – 40 degrees for outdoor tools

Steel and knives

The steels differ from each other. They can be soft, hard or brittle. Understanding steel will help you sharpen.

Blade shape

Depending on the shape of the blade, the sharpening method changes. If you have a typical straight edge, follow the curvature of the blade when sharpening. A blade like “Tanto” can seem like a challenge to sharpen, although it’s actually very simple! Sharpen the longer edge to the first point, then maneuver the blade to sharpen only the shorter top edge, the second, which ends again at the point where the two edges intersect. In the jagged state, you can concentrate only on the flat side without being beveled. If you have small ceramic grindstones, you can easily sharpen between the notches of the jagged edge.

Sharpen knives with oil or water stones

Oil or water stones are highly recommended for sharpening knives, as you can gently sharpen knives with stones. The cutting edge does not lose as much material when sharpening with the stone and there is no danger that the cutting edge will become too hot and lose its hardness. In addition, you can freely choose the grinding angle. With many other sharpening systems, only one or a few predetermined grinding angles are possible.

To regrind the cutting angle, you need to pull the machete over the stone as follows:

  • Attach the machete to the top of the stone on the staple side,
  • pull the machete evenly (keep the angle) to the right and down over the stone,
  • They end with the tip of the blade at the end of the stone.

 You do this several times depending on how blunt your machete is. Don’t forget to alternately sharpen both sides of the blade. Sharpen the machete on the stone should be as if you wanted to cut off a flat slice of the stone. 

The angle should be about 15 to 20 degrees for chef’s knives, about 25 to 28 degrees for hunting knives. Please also note the information provided by the machete manufacturer. Sharpening the achievable sharpness of the machete and its stability depends largely on the alloy of the steel. 

Sharpening steel

Sharpening knives with sharpening steel are particularly suitable for chef’s knives and kitchen knives. For a proper resharpening with the sharpening steel, some practice is required, as you are dealing here with two unfixed objects. There is a risk of injury! For starters, you can place the tip of the sharp steel on a table to fix it.

Please note that in practice the sharp steel is only intended for sharp preservation, the steel is not suitable for a very blunt or slippery machete. It is recommended to first practice sharpening the machete with simple kitchen knives. Only when you have mastered sharpening the machete with the sharpening steel, you should dare to use higher quality knives. The sharpening angle for kitchen knives should be about 15-20 degrees. If you see scratches on the side of the machete blade after pulling off, you have kept the angle too flat.

Sharpen the machete with sharpening steel:

  • attach the machete to the tip of the steel on the stitching side,
  • pull the machete evenly (keep the angle) backwards and downwards over the stone,
  • they end with the tip of the blade in front of the hand guard of the wetting steel.
  • You do this several times depending on how blunt your machete is. Don’t forget to alternately sharpen both sides of the blade

What glazing agents should you use?

Assess the condition of your knife. Reach for coarse abrasives if the edge is inconsistent or there are fragments on the blade. In this case, if the edge is sharp, use a medium or fine abrasive to fine-tune it.

Summary

So that you can enjoy your knives more, it is advisable to sharpen them regularly. A blunt blade not only makes cutting more difficult, but also increases the risk of injuries when cutting. 

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