The Happy Camper: Axe and Knife Maintenance

Learn about proper axe and knife maintenance—and watch an instructional video too!

Credit: Kevin Callan

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t take good care of my camp tools. It’s a character flaw that needs to be improved upon.

A paddling partner, Tim Foley (owner of Canadian Outdoor Equipment) knows this disposition and packed along a maintenance kit for me on our latest canoe trip. The kit is titled Knife & Axe—distributed by Canada’s Young & Mackenzie. 

It consists of two sharpening tools: a large two-grit (240 and 400) stone sharper for establishing a nice cutting edge (or getting rid of dings and nicks) and a smaller file-like diamond/ceramic field sharpener for refining the edges of my knife and axe. Remember, a dull axe or knife is a dangerous axe or knife.

Tim also brought along what I like to call “camp cosmetics” for my knife and axe. First was handle wax; a petroleum-free, non-toxic, plant-based mix of oils and Canadian beeswax for protecting axe and knife handles from water and moisture. The wax went on easy enough, and after buffing it out it ended up enhancing the grip on my axe handle rather than making it oily or slippery. 

Next was a “spritz” of blade oil for my axe-head and knife-blade. It’s is a petroleum-free, non-toxic, biodegradable plant-based oil for protecting the metal from corrosion. I even put some on my saw blade.

To round everything off, Tim used some sheath cream, another petroleum-free, non-toxic, plant-based mix of oils and waxes that nourishes and protects leather from water, moisture and the elements. Bonus—it also comes with a subtle cedar scent. Lovely.

In under an hour, while I sat with a wee dram of whisky, cheering on Tim’s handy work, my paddling partner had my knife and axe all “groomed” and ready for action.

Thanks Tim!

Check out the video. Tim does a lot better job explaining all this than I would. He really is a master at axe and knife care.

Watch the Video Here:

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