How to Sharpen a Machete

How to Sharpen a Machete
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If you already own a machete and you’re currently wondering how best to ensure that it’s retained in tip-top condition, we’re going to be looking into how to sharpen a machete. It’s such a fantastic multi-tasking and versatile tool, but in order to get the best out of it for many years to come, you’re going to need a proper sharpening technique.

Not all machetes arrive with a factory edge so it might even be the case that you need to sharpen your tool straight out of the box before you even get to hacking through that undergrowth. Before you worry that your skills in the knife handling and sharpening department are sadly lacking and that it all sounds like too much effort, don’t worry.

We’re here to walk you through our step-by-step guide on how to sharpen a machete effectively. Let’s take a look in more detail now.

It goes without saying that as a machete is a large blade, you should definitely take care and attention when handling it. There are plenty of options out there when it comes to various sharpening techniques, so we’re going to cover off the most common ones. Ready to get started?

How to Sharpen a Machete

First up, one technique won’t be right for you all so we’re going to put forward a couple of the most popular and common ways in which you can choose to sharpen that machete so that you can decide for yourself which one you prefer. We’re going to be focused on the following methods:

  • Belt sander
  • Whetstone
  • Grinder
  • Dremel
  • File

Using a Belt Sander to Sharpen a Machete

A common and relatively easy of sharpening your machete, if you do have access to a belt sander, it’s a superb way of really achieving a sharp and consistent edge. A belt sander is perfect for all styles and shapes of machete even the longer length Japanese style katana. In order to perfect the technique, you just need to use some light pressure and that straight sharp edge you are looking for is easily achievable.

Just be careful not to overheat your blade. This really is one of the simplest and most effective ways of keeping all your steel items sharp.

Using a Whetstone to Sharpen a Machete

This is a more traditional method that would have been used years ago before the introduction of power tools and is something that can provide your machete with a sharp and polished edge. To get the best results out of your whetstone, it should be soaked in water first. You then need to adopt a perpendicular angled motion starting from the base of the strong to the tip, moving the blade back and forth in regular movements to get the results you require. It’s by no means the fastest technique, but it is simple and practical as well as being inexpensive.

Using a Grinder to Sharpen a Machete

If you really need to give that machete of yours a good sharpen, particularly after a recent session of slashing and hacking, then investing in a grinding wheel is a great option. By using a more aggressive technique like this, you can help to eliminate any nicks and dents that have developed as well as factory dullness.

Just ensure that you have enough space in your workshop to do the job uninterrupted and be careful not to get the grinder too hot otherwise you run the risk of altering and physically downgrading the composition of your blade.  It’s not the easiest of methods, and it does take an amount of expertise to get right so it might not be the preferred option for many machete users reading this guide.

Using a Dremel to Sharpen a Machete

A simple, practical and easy process for sharpening your blades is to use a Dremel. A Dremel is a power tool which can be operated by hand and which features a rotating sharpener. Ideally, secure your machete into the grip of a vice first to hold it steady, then power up your Dremel and get to work.

All you need do is simply run over the edge of your tool in a lateral direction then repeat fully on the other side. After heavy use in the field when you’re likely to have quite a lot of surface damage and imperfections to your machete blade, a Dremel is a useful tool for restoring the sharpness and getting your edge back into optimum condition.

Using a File to Sharpen a Machete

Using a file is a simple and effective method that doesn’t require expensive tools or any level of technical expertise. All you really need is a vice to hold your blade secure as well as the right kind of file to get the job done. It’s a bit more of a manual process and may wind up taking you a little bit longer, but you can be sure of a steady and accurate job.

When it comes to the file, there are two main types you could go for. Your options are to either go for a double cut (also known as rough) or a single cut (also known as smooth). Once you’ve secured your machete in the vice and chosen your file, you need to apply a push rather than pull motion. Alternatively, the file can be held steady and the machete drawn instead against the file. Either technique will deliver the same results and in both instances, don’t forget that you need to file both sides.

A Word on the Machete Sharpening Angle

Depending upon the principle use of your machete, you carefully need to consider the angle in which you sharpen your machete, and the edge you give it will automatically influence it’s performance out in the field. Different scenarios require a different blade angle. If you’re predominantly chopping branches and wood, then the angle should be 25-35 degrees. However, if you are cutting grass and vines, then the edge need only be 20-25 degrees.

Sharpen it Your Way

While all of the above techniques are effective, you will no doubt find the one that suits you best. The rules aren’t fixed, and there is no right or wrong way to sharpen a machete so feel free to experiment a bit until you discover the method that works for you. Just don’t neglect to clean your blade after every use. Even if you don’t necessarily sharpen it that often, you need to be cleaning your machete to ensure it’s kept in the best working condition.