Has your axe become sticky from contact with pine sap? Do you need to clean your axe to get the rust off from being outside for months?
Axes are incredibly durable tools, and they are meant for outdoor life. But from time to time, you’ll need to clean your axe to keep it free of rust, sap, grime, and anything else that might hinder an axe’s job to cut.
If you properly maintain an axe, it will last you a whole lifetime. And part of that maintenance is cleaning your axe. Keep reading to learn how you can keep your axe clean so you can use it for longer.
When To Clean Your Axe
While throwing axes are kept in pristine condition for competition, working axes aren’t always cared for the way they should be.
Sap and rust are liable to be on an axe blade that is used outdoors for cutting trees or limbs. This can lead to sticking both on the blade and the handle. This is not just dangerous, but it’s also going to make cutting anything almost impossible.
It’s also a good idea to clean your axe before you sharpen it so that the sharpening tools are more effective. This means cleaning any large debris, sap, and rust off the blade.
How To Clean Your Axe’s Blade
Before cleaning your axe, remove any loose debris like sap or moss, if it’s been sitting outside for a long time. You can scrape blobs of dried sap off with a butterknife and then take the rest off with soap and water, CLR, or nail polish remover.
Remember that when you’re cleaning an axe blade of sap with chemicals like these, rinse it thoroughly and do it outside or at least in a heavily ventilated area.
Cleaning Rust Off An Axe Blade With Sandpaper
If your axe is a little rusty from being outdoors, you can remove it with a piece of sandpaper in mere minutes. To do this, all you need to do is work in circular motions with 1000-2000 grit sandpaper.
Once the rust has been removed, wipe down the blade with a damp rag. If the blade has become dull or chipped because of rusting, then sharpen with a whetstone.
3M Auto Advanced Wetordry Sandpaper
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CLR Spot-Free Stainless Steel
- Easy-to-use, one-step stainless steel cleaner
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Cleaning Your Axe Blade With CLR
CLR is an amazing cleaner that gets rid of limescale, rust, calcium buildups in kitchens and bathrooms. It can also be used to clean an axe of rust and other buildups. Note that while it does remove all rust, it won’t remove sap.
To clean an axe with CLR, simply spray or pour it on the axe blade and scrub with a Brillo Pad or Magic Eraser. After you’ve removed all of the rust, rinse and dry off with a towel. Finally, treat your blade with gun oil to prevent rust from coming back.
- Contains 18 Red Brillo Steel Wool Soap Pads
- Long-lasting soap pad with anti-rust formula
- 29% more soap and 8% more steel wool than any other soap pad
Mr Clean Magic Eraser Pads
- A Power Clean with water alone
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Cleaning Your Blade With Nail Polish Remover
Using nail polish remover to clean your axe blade is a great option because it melts sap, rust, and other difficult debris right off. However, it’s not the most budget-friendly option, as you might have to use a lot, depending on the amount of sap that’s on the blade.
Take a cotton ball or rag soaked in nail polish remover or acetone and wipe off the rust. Wipe down the blade with a damp rag, dry, and treat it with petroleum jelly or another type of oil to lock moisture in, since acetone can dry it out and cause more surface imperfections.
Remington Rem Oil
- Protects internal and external metal parts from rust and corrosion
- Exclusive formula provides thin long-lasting film that keeps actions working smoothly
- Cleans dirt and grime from exposed metal surfaces
Eternal 100% Pure Acetone
- 100% Pure Acetone
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Cleaning An Axe Handle
Don’t forget to clean your axe handle too! It’s just as important to keep the handle clean to ensure a good grip and to prevent it from breaking under pressure, if it’s been waterlogged or if the wood has been affected by dry rot.
Axe handles are often left exposed, causing an array of different things including moss growth and waterlogging, which both attribute to eventual breakage. Over time, an axe handle that has been left exposed to the elements is prone to developing a slimy coating, which is the beginning of moss growth.
Cleaning An Axe Handle With Soap And Water
If your axe is caked in mud or slime, then it’s simple to clean it up with dish soap and water. Simply take a rag or sponge full of dish soap and water and scrub the gunk away.
You can prevent a slime coating by storing your axe inside or by using a waterproofing treatment that keeps the grip of the wood, like Rain Guard, or another non-oil-based waterproof coating.
Dawn Ultra Antibacterial Dish Soap
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Axe Cleaning With Pine-Sol
Pine-Sol is another great cleaner to help you clean your axe if it has been outside in the rain. If left for a while, it can develop a slimy film or even moss. It clears off sap, slim, and any other gunk that might create a slippery axe handle.
Mix a bit of Pine-Sol in with a bucket of water and use a sponge or scrub brush to clean the axe handle. Rinse the handle off and leave it to dry completely before using it again.
Pine Sol Multi Purpose Cleaner
- The ideal solution to any mess, Pine-Sol cleans and disinfects
- This Pine-Sol multi-use cleaner penetrates and cleans messes on a wide variety of hard, nonporous surfaces
- Pine-Sol all-purpose cleaner is a concentrated disinfectant cleaner that can be diluted to different strengths
Axe cleaning is simple, yet so important. As we’ve mentioned, an axe can last a very long time, as long as you take care of it. After cleaning the blade, it’s always a good idea to condition your axe blade with beeswaxe or Vaseline, or another type of oil to lock in the moisture and prevent rusting before storing for the winter.
However, don’t condition the handle like you would a blade. Wood is not like metal. It is much more porous and will dry out faster if an oil-based treatment is used on it. If you want to restore your axe handle, try a waterproof coating that doesn’t include oils like Rain Guard.
Keep your blade sharp at all times. Inspect the handle and the blade for imperfections and damage each time you use them. You can also protect the blade by getting a sheath to protect it. And you should store your axe inside in colder weather, as a cold axe is likely to crack or chip.
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Rain Guard Wood Sealer
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