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Written by Blade HQ Staff Writer Logan Rainey on 02/20/2020

How to Sharpen a Machete

Maybe you’re an adventure nut who plows through the thickest jungles with nothing more than the clothes on your back. Maybe you’re someone who does a lot of yard work, or a humble friar looking for purpose in the deserts of Mexico. Either way, you probably have machete that has put in the work and needs some love. Follow this machete sharpening guide to restore it and its cutting edge to glory.

Melodramatics aside, machetes and knives get dull over time. For some of you, sharpening is second nature. Instinctively, you keep things shave sharp and no one needs to tell you how to sharpen anything from a machete to scissors or the like. Knife sharpening will help your knife last for years to come. This guide will walk you through basic machete sharpening while using the Lansky Sharpening Puck. Feel free to check out some of our other knife maintenance guides.

Blade Grinds and Angles

Blade Grinds and Angles

Some machetes sport chisel grinds where only one side of the blade is ground to a cutting edge. For chisel grinds you’ll want to just sharpen the ground side and knock off any burr that forms on the back of the blade. For reference, the burr is the thin metal that curves over on the cutting edge. You can take off burrs with a few quick passes of a file or sharpening stone. Other machetes are ground on both sides to form the cutting edge. This means both sides of the machete blade will need to be sharpened evenly to form a uniform cutting edge.

The blade angle you choose depends on what you will be using your machete for. For light cutting of grass and vegetation, smaller blade angles of 25 degrees work best as they allow finer edges. For heavier chopping tasks like wood, larger angles up to 35 degrees do well to take the impact. Check out our knife sharpening angle guide if you're still in doubt, but machetes usually come from the factory with great all-around grinds so you can always stick to the default.

The Sharpening Process

How to sharpen a machete

Now that you have found the right angle, you can get right into sharpening. Though there are many options for sharpening a machete, we have found that the simplest and most effective method is by using a Lansky Sharpening Puck.

Begin by placing the edge of your machete up toward the sky with the tip facing away from you. The machete will stay in this position until it is sharp. Next, take the puck in your dominant hand and place it on the edge of the machete starting at the part closest to your body. Match the angle you are holding the puck on the edge to the angle of the edge you found before starting.

While maintaining the edge angle, use smooth, circular motions while moving the puck along the edge until you reach the tip of the machete. Repeat this process several times until a noticeable burr is formed on the opposite side.

How to sharpen a machete
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Finishing the Edge

Sharpen a machete
Sharpen a machete

When a burr has formed, take the puck in your opposite hand while holding the machete in the same position and work through the same steps until a burr can’t be felt on either side. If a burr develops on the starting edge, simply repeat the same steps and check regularly for the burr until it’s gone.

Note: If there are large dings or other damage in the edge, a diamond or ceramic milling file or coarse sharpening stone will be needed to help bring a consistent edge to your machete. Mill files have teeth that range from tough to smooth and come in variations.

How to sharpen a machete
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Rocket science might be easy to mess up, but sharpening a machete isn’t. If you’re looking for a simple way to sharpen and maintain your machete, this process will get the job done. Where most machetes are being used for heavy tasks, there isn’t really a need to put a ‘shave-sharp’ edge on it. Machetes are built to take a beating and have been tried and trued for many years as one of the best tools for clearing brush and building bushcraft shelters.

Check out this sweet video with Joe Flowers from Condor Tool and Knife. He teaches Zac all about machetes, their uses and how to make the best machete purchase.

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