The 9 Best Axe Sharpening Stones [Buyer’s Guide]


“Give me six hours to chop a tree and I will spend four hours sharpening the axe”


However accurate this Abraham Lincoln quote may be, the essence behind the statement is sound. There is nothing as difficult, inefficient and dangerous as using a dull axe. Whether you’re felling trees or just preparing kindling, sharpening your axe should be a regular part of your regimen.


While there are many tools to sharpen an axe, the most commonly used are sharpening stones or whetstones. In this article, we’re going to take a detailed look at what makes axe sharpening stones useful, their limitations, and the best axe sharpening stones that you can buy.

Top 9 best axe sharpening stones



Our top pick is this puck-shaped sharpening stone from Sharp Pebble. With 40% more surface area compared to other sharpening pucks, the Sharp Pebble puck provides a significant boost in efficiency without losing the convenience of portability. The puck also comes with a nice bamboo case with a magnetic enclosure which looks great for storage, although its practicality is
questionable.


Made of silicon carbide, this sharpening puck needs only water to create a slurry for optimal sharpening. The puck comes with both coarse (150 grit) and fine (320 grit) sides, which should be enough to repair small nicks in your axe or to refine a dulled edge. The grit number of the fine-grit side is a little low, so this puck may not be versatile enough to sharpen other cutting tools.

One other thing to note is that the material of this sharpening puck tends to get worn down pretty easily. This is probably a consequence of using a water-based binder. It doesn’t make the puck any less effective, but you might have to replace them frequently if you make heavy use of your axe.

Size

3.9 x 3.9 x 11 inches

Weight

1.35 pounds

Material

Silicon carbide (water- based)

Grit number

150 and 320

Pros

  • Compact and portable
  • Good shape for gripping
  • Needs only water
  • Larger than other pucks

Cons

  • Material wears down easily
  • Low grit number
  • Relatively expensive for a puck

The Lanksy puck is considered the gold standard for sharpening stones that are light, compact, and inexpensive. At under $10, there isn’t much reason not to give the Lansky puck a try. The Lansky puck isn’t just a cheap stone, it’s one of the best-suited for axes.


You don’t exactly need to sharpen an axe to the point of being razor-sharp. After all, an axe is not a cutting tool. At 120 and 280, the grit numbers of the Lansky puck are perfect for either repairing nicks on axes or honing a cutting edge that has been dulled. It can also remedy dull knives but likely can’t sharpen them like new.

The Lansky puck is made of synthetic materials and can be used dry to satisfactory results, although you may end up wearing it down prematurely. It can also be used with either water or oil. Lansky makes no recommendations regarding this matter, you’ll have to try the three options to see what works best for you.


The best thing about the Lansky puck is that it’s pocket-sized. Whether you’re working on your shed or going on a hike, the Lansky puck takes up no space at all in your gear. It could have been improved with a finer grit but the simplicity of the Lansky puck is what’s made it so popular.

Size

9.5 x 5 x 1.13 inches

Weight

0.60 pounds

Material

Synthetic (dry, oil, or water-based)

Grit number

120 and 280

Pros

  • Very inexpensive
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Perfect for repairing nicks

Cons

  • Low grit numbers
  • Lacks versatility for other cutting tools

Contrary to the impression that diamond sharpening stones are always expensive, this double-sided diamond stone from HTS costs less than $20. It’s an incredible value no matter how you look at it. The price tag alone is a compelling enough reason to go for this stone.


The HTS diamond stone is extremely thin and tight and is convenient for taking with you on ultralight hikes. Despite having a small workable surface, the hardness of the diamond surface makes sharpening a breeze. Large nicks only take a few minutes to smooth out on the coarse side, while the finer side can quickly hone an edge.

Despite being inexpensive, this diamond sharpening stone is just as tough and long-lasting and those that cost three times more. Some owners of this sharpening stone have been using this for years with no significant drop in performance. If there’s a part of the diamond stone that will fail, it will probably be the epoxy that binds the metal plate to the plastic interior.


The major flaw of this stone’s extremely thin build is that it lacks rigidity. With no solid support, the metal plate seems to bow to the pressure of the axe as it is being sharpened. This can be chalked up to poor design. However, it’s hard to complain about a diamond sharpening stone that is affordable.

Size

6 x 2 x 0.19 inches

Weight

0.28 pounds

Material

Diamond (dry)

Grit number

400 and 600

Pros

  • Hard and durable sharpening surface
  • Very inexpensive
  • Can be used to touch up other sharpening stones

Cons

  • Too thin and flexible

Another product from Sharp Pebble, this whetstone comes in the traditional bar-like configuration. This provides a much larger surface area to help to sharpen your axe quickly. The whetstone comes with a wooden base to keep it fixed during sharpening.


Made of aluminum oxide, this sharpening stone requires only water to create a slurry and help remove swarf. This is convenient if you’re bringing the stone on a hike or a trip, as you do not need to worry about messing around with oil. The sharpening stone is big, though, so you may have to think about how well it goes with the rest of your gear.

What jumps out the most about this sharpening stone is its grit numbers – 1000 and 6000. These are very high compared to other sharpening stones. If you want a sharpening stone that is flexible and can be used to hone knives, then this is an excellent choice. While the high grit numbers are still useful for axes, this sharpening stone may not be suited for repairing large nicks on a damaged axe.


As with other water stones from Sharp Pebble, wear-resistance also seems to be a problem with this sharpening stone. If you find yourself sharpening your axe a lot, you may find this stone getting worn down faster than expected. This has to be weighed out when considering its high price compared to the competition.

Size

7.25 x 2.25 x 1 inches

Weight

2.12 pounds

Material

Aluminum oxide (water-based)

Grit number

1000 and 6000

Pros

  • Very high grit numbers
  • Large surface area
  • Needs only water
  • Comes with a base and silicone holder

Cons

  • May not be coarse enough to repair nicks
  • Material wears down easily
  • Quite bulky

On innovation alone this dual-side whetstone from Fallkniven deserves a spot in this list. Its design is unique in that its two faces are made of different metals — one is made of diamonds and one is made of ceramic from artificial sapphires. This makes the DC4 one of the more versatile sharpening stones on the market without being expensive.


Sharpening with the DC4 requires a moderately different approach. According to Fallkniven, it’s best to start with the fine diamond side to restore the edge’s original shape before removing the burrs and nicks on the ceramic side. 

The DC4 is a very small stone which makes it ideal for camping and hiking. The small sharpening surface, however, means that you’ll need to spend more time honing your axe’s edge.


The sharpening stone comes with a leather pouch that doubles as a leather strop. Stropping may be more important for knives and other flat blades, but who’s to say that a polished axe blade doesn’t look good?


While no doubt an excellent sharpening stone for small cutting tools, the Fallkniven DC4 might not be the most practical choice for sharpening axes. It feels a little too small and thin for heavy-duty sharpening, and it’s fine-grit characteristic might make it difficult to remove large nicks and burrs. It’s still a great value-for-money purchase, especially if you’re planning to sharpen a wide range of cutting and chopping tools.

Size

0.27 x 1.25 x 3.94 inches

Weight

0.14 pounds

Material

Diamond and ceramic (dry)

Grit number

No grit numbers indicated

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with a stropping leather

Cons

  • Small sharpening surface

Through ingenious design, Sharpal was able to combine the superior sharpening performance of a diamond stone with the portability of a puck in the Faceoff Diamond Sharpener. The small dual-sided disk embedded with diamonds on both sides while a puck-like handle holds the disk in place using magnets. The Sharpal diamond stone is light and portable and is a perfect tool to keep your gear at a minimal weight.


The diamond stone comes with an extra-coarse (200 grit) side that is perfect for repairing damaged and nicked cutting edges. The fine side (600 grit) can turn even an axe into a sharp cutting tool. The stone needs no water or oil and can be used for knives, drills, chisels, and various garden tools.

The Sharpal Faceoff is only a little more expensive than the Lansky puck but boasts of better performance. At this price point, Sharpal had to compromise on longevity as the diamond disk is very thin and can get worn down after sustained use. This is quite unbecoming of a diamond sharpening stone — even a cheap one — as they are expected to be wear-resistant.

Size

3.15 x 3.15 x 1.18 inches

Weight

0.56 pounds

Material

Diamond (dry)

Grit number

220 and 600

Pros

  • Hard and durable sharpening surface
  • Inexpensive
  • Compact and portable design

Cons

  • Very thin material

This product offers three sharpening stones in a single bundle — coarse, fine, and extra-fine. Although no grit numbers are indicated in the product, the coarse and fine stones should be good enough for sharpening an axe. The extra-fine version is probably a bit of an overkill for axes, as they are typically reserved for ultra-sharp applications such as surgical-grade scalpels.


Each sharpening stone is made of genuine Arkansas stone and comes with a wooden base. The 6-inch version of the stones provides a large surface for more efficient sharpening, although you can scale that up to 8-inch and 10-inch alternatives. The use of Arkansas stone gives these sharpening stones ample durability to last a long time, even if you sharpen your tools often.

Mineral oil is typically recommended for sharpening your blades on an Arkansas stone. Water can also be used if you’re in a pinch but is less efficient in mobilizing the abrasive particles in the stone. Coupled with its bulky design, you might be better off using them when working around the yard rather than taking them on a hike.


We can certainly see the appeal of standard Arkansas stones for those who prefer sharpening their tools the old-fashioned way. Setting the stone down on its base, applying some oil, and slowly honing the edge of a tool is a meditative experience – even therapeutic.


The biggest issue of this three-stone bundle is its price tag. At more than $50, this is probably one of the most expensive products out there for sharpening your axe. However, you might be able to justify this if you’re after the versatility that three different sharpening stones can provide.

Size

2 x 6 inches each

Weight

2.64 pounds (three stones)

Material

Natural Arkansas stone (oil-based)

Grit number

Coarse, fine, and extra-fine (No grit numbers provided)

Pros

  • Made with durable Arkansas stone
  • Large sharpening surface
  • Versatile applications

Cons

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Expensive

When you buy a diamond sharpening stone, you tend to have very high expectations. They are expensive and are supposedly made of the hardest material on the planet. In the case of the Ultra Sharp diamond sharpening stone set, we’re happy to report that it will likely meet all your expectations.


This set includes two sharpening stones — a coarse (300 grit) version and a fine (600) version. There are several other diamond sharpening stone sets sold by the Ultra Sharp brand, but we find that this combination is best for axes. The coarse grit does a great job of eliminating nicks and damaged sections while the fine grit makes short work of honing the edge.

The fine diamond particles are electroplated to a thick metal bar. This construction provides ample rigidity and durability while giving the sharpening stones a nice heft. The diamond itself takes a really long time to wear down. Although compact in design, the weight added by the metal might make these stones problematic for hiking. If you just need a sharpening stone to use around the house, they are perfect.


You can expect to spend extra for a product of this quality, but the near-$80 price might be too much for some. If you do have the capacity to splurge, then these diamond sharpening stones are worth every dollar.

Size

3 x 8 inches each

Weight

4.5 pounds (two stones)

Material

Diamond (dry)

Grit number

300 and 600

Pros

  • Provides very fast sharpening
  • High-quality diamond surface

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Heavy

This sharpening stone from Bora doesn’t strive to do anything more than be ordinary. However, it excels when it comes to performance.


Made of aluminum oxide, this sharpening stone is as plain as it could be. It comes with both a coarse (150 grit) face and a fine (240 grit) face. These grit numbers are quite low compared to many of the other entries in this list. If you need a sharpening stone to hone a knife to razor-sharp, then you might be a little disappointed with this one. For an axe, this is perfect.

Although aluminum oxide can be used dry, it is better to use either oil or water to remove the swarf while sharpening. Honing oil is a little easier to use, as it can be applied to the sharpening surface as needed. If you’re using water, make sure to soak the stone for about half an hour before use.


Being old-fashioned, the major appeal of this sharpening stone is that it’s very cheap. If spending more than $20 for a sharpening stone doesn’t sound like your thing, then this is a cheap stone that won’t leave you disappointed.

Size

6 x 2 x 1 inches

Weight

0.3 pounds

Material

Aluminum oxide (water or oil)

Grit number

150 and 240

Pros

  • Very inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Works well with either oil or water

Cons

  • Low grit numbers

If you use an axe regularly for chopping firewood or preparing kindling, then a good sharpening stone is just about the most important tool you need right next to the axe itself. There are several things to consider when picking a good sharpening stone, but you don’t need to make the choice complicated. A stone that’s easy to handle, with the appropriate grit number, and made of the proper abrasive material should have no difficulty doing the job for you.


Investing in a good sharpening stone and regularly sharpening your axe is important. A dull axe is a dangerous axe. Keeping a sharpened edge on your axe is also a way for you to keep it from getting damaged after sustained use. 

Benefits of using a sharpening stone


Sharpening stones are very basic. It can be easy to underestimate how much technique it takes to use a sharpening stone properly. This simplicity in form, however, is also what makes sharpening stones so highly valued.


Here are some of the benefits of using a sharpening stone over other tools.

Simple

A sharpening stone is a single-piece tool that will serve all your sharpening needs. Its simple form factor makes it extremely easy to carry around and pack with your gear. The simple design also makes using a whetstone very intuitive.


Even with little instruction, an average person will know how to sharpen an axe with a whetstone. Doing it efficiently is an entirely different matter, of course, but it’s very hard to go wrong with a sharpening stone.

Versatile

The flat surface of a sharpening stone makes its surface accessible to any tool. This makes sharpening stones effective for all tools meant for chopping, cutting or slicing. Even if you have an assortment of knives, axes, and saws in your gear, a single sharpening stone will be enough to serve all your sharpening needs.

Efficient

The actual sharpening area may vary from one stone to another, but sharpening stones, in general, provide the greatest sharpening surface compared to other tools. Axes have large cutting edges, so they can really benefit from the efficiency of sharpening stones.

Downsides of using a sharpening stone


There’s no perfect tool, so we can expect sharpening stones to also have a few limitations. These drawbacks have given way to other alternatives such as sharpening rods, files, and electrical sharpening tools.

Requires good technique

Although we’ve said that sharpening stones are intuitive enough for just about anyone to use them, doing it properly is going to require a certain amount of skill. With no angle guides, positioning the cutting angle just right is key to getting good results with a sharpening stone. This technique is known as ‘freehand’ sharpening and is worth learning for anyone who does regular work with sharp tools.

Requires a stable work surface

Unlike sharpening rods and files, sharpening with a stone means having to sit down somewhere comfortable and solid and spending ample time to give your axe some TLC. A sharpening stone needs to be laid down somewhere stable to keep it from moving while you move the axe’s sharp edge over the stone’s surface. When you’re outdoors, looking for this stable spot might be easier said than done.

How to choose a sharpening stone


Despite how simple a sharpening stone looks, there’s a huge variety of different stones out there. If your goal is simply to sharpen an axe, then any stone will do. However, picking the right stone for your needs can greatly speed up the sharpening process or make it easier for you. When picking a sharpening stone, these are the factors to consider:

Material

There’s a huge variety of materials used in different sharpening stones — way more than we can list in this small section. Instead, we’ll group these materials into three major categories.


Oil stones are the most old-fashioned type of sharpening stones and the one that more people are familiar with. As its name implies, oil stones require the use of honing oil to remove the swarf during the sharpening process. Sharpening using oil stones can be a slow process, although some people prefer the higher degree of control that this slowness provides.


Oil stones can either be natural or synthetic. Natural oil stones are made of Novaculite which is quarried in Arkansas, giving way to the oft-mentioned Arkansas stones. On the synthetic side, aluminum oxide and silicon carbide are the most popular options.


Water stones can also be either natural or synthetic, but the use of synthetic materials is far more common. Synthetic water stones use aluminum oxide — the same one used in oil stones — but have a different binder. This binder is designed to allow the abrasive material to break away gradually, which exposes fresh abrasive material. This ensures that the performance and effectiveness of water stones do not reduce over time.


Diamond stones are the best of the bunch. This type of sharpening stone has a metal faceplate where small diamonds have been embedded. A diamond stone can sharpen an axe really quickly owing to its superior hardness. Moreover, diamond stones can be used dry (no oil or water needed), do not get dulled down, and can retain a flat surface even after a lot of use. As you would expect, diamond sharpening stones are also the most expensive option.

Size and weight

While the shapes of sharpening stones are typically restricted to pucks and bars, they can have varying weights and sizes. Small, pocket-sized sharpening stones are excellent if your goal is to keep your gear light and compact, especially for multi-day hikes. A puck-sized stone is also used differently, in that it is worked across the axe while the axe is held in a fixed position. Sharpening with a small stone, however, can take more time.


In terms of efficiency, large sharpening stones are clearly superior. The larger abrasive surface significantly speeds up sharpening, which you might need if you use your axe regularly. However, large sharpening stones are also heavy. If you’re planning to bring a large whetstone on a long hike, make sure to account for its size and weight when preparing your gear. You will also need a good steady surface to set the stone down while working the axe across it.

Grit number

Just like sandpaper, sharpening stones come in different grit numbers. Grit numbers in the 1000 to 3000 range are the most useful for bringing sharpness back to a sharp edge that has been dulled by constant use. However, they cannot repair an axe that has been damaged to the point where its cutting edge already has sections chipped off. For that kind of sharpening job, you need a sharpening stone with a grit number lower than 800.


The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other. Most sharpening stones come with a coarse face and a fine face, allowing for both the removal of large nicks and the touching up of dull blades. Just make sure that you’re getting a stone that has the grit number you need. It is entirely possible to sharpen an axe beyond what is necessary. An axe does not need to be razor-sharp.


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