/ How do you sharpen ice axe/crampons?

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jamesofdeath - on 07 Dec 2012
Simple question, what is the best way to sharpen the pick on my ice axe as it feels quite blunt! What about crampons?

Just concerned that any sharpening would weaken the metal.
Nath93 - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to jamesofdeath: with a file.
Double Knee Bar - on 07 Dec 2012
mkean - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to jamesofdeath:
Crampons are rubbish for sharpening ice axes with, I'd use a file. If you can comfortably touch the working edge between file strokes then you won't have it hot enough to spoil the heat treatment.
In reply to jamesofdeath: I had an interesting discussion about this the other day, regards to using a bench grinder rather than a file.
Now I know everything you read says don't use a grinder, it'll heat the metal too much, weakening it, but in reality, if you're sensible about how you do it, so as not to put excessive heat into the metal, (ie:repeated short taps of the pick/points against the wheel, rather than prolonged contact) would it actually do any harm? I'd imagine you could potentially get a better, sharper, neater finish than with a file too?
jhw - on 07 Dec 2012
First sharpen the front of the blade, so it's flat and at the right angle.

Then when the front of the blade is flat, sharpen each side of the front of the blade so it has an edge.

Don't make the edge too sharp or it'll wear faster.

You may have to file away the first tooth if there's significant wear to the front of the pick. This is because you want the bottom front of the pick to penetrate the ice before the teeth.

If you have to file away more than the first tooth to make sure the front of the pick penetrates first, it's time to buy new picks.

The bottom, front corner of the pick needs to be sharp but the bottom, top corner of the pick can be rounded.

I think this is what the Andy Turner article says, and I applied it. There is also useful a very good, detailed section on this in this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Climbing-Rockfax-Guide/dp/1873341962/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid...
jhw - on 07 Dec 2012
Sorry, some typos in my post - in para. 1, you're not "sharpening" the front of the pick - you're filing it. The idea is to get rid of the crap, blunt bit.

In para. 6, I meant "top, front", not "bottom, top".
Glyno - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC):

I imagine you'd have more control over what you're doing with a file.
Personally, I can't see any advantage in using a grinding wheel.
mkean - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC):
If you are careful it is fine, the thing is most people aren't as careful as they think they are. You can use an angle grinder for doing your nails and a bangalore torpedo is great alternative to a plough but the margin for error is pretty small :-)
NottsRich on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC): If you don't get it too hot then it won't do it any harm. A couple of hundred degrees will be fine. Don't quench it, let it cool naturally. No benefit over a file though IMO.
mkean - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Glyno:
You'll have more control with a wheel if you take the time to set up properly, although I don't think I could be bothered with setting up a sharpening jig for my ice tools.
Captain Solo on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to jamesofdeath: UKC article on the subject from a few years ago
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=163
pamph - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC): You probably will be able to use a bench grinder to sharpen your tools and crampons, but you have to ask yourself whether it's worth the risk of getting it wrong. In the end, those points are your connection to the mountain and if one were to snap due to the temper being compromised, it might be a bit more serious than you expected! It doesn't take long to sharpen your tools with a good file, and in my experience, you can get a very sharp edge fairly easily. And it might save you some grief!
jkarran - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC):

If you're careful and keep the work cool you can grind successfully heat treated steel but you need to be very careful. Cooling water helps*.

*Usual common sense stuff about power tools and mixing water-electricity obviously applies.

jk
mutt - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to jamesofdeath: Diamond Block is the way forward. highly portable, light and much more refined that a file, won't rust, takes of less the axe head due to more accurate sharpening.
ads.ukclimbing.com
jhw - on 08 Dec 2012
Will Gadd says the only pick he every broke was also the only one he ever machine ground

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