For optimal performance, ice auger blades should be sharpened regularly, just like fillet knives or hunting knives.
Using dull ice auger blades will decrease the overall longevity of your blades and increase the time it takes to drill each ice hole.
Not to mention, using dull ice auger blades can become a safety hazard.
When you use dull blades, you have to put more downward force onto the auger to get the same results as using sharper blades.
If your ice auger fails to create a secure grip, you may fall forward onto the ice with additional downward force.
By simply sharpening your ice auger blades a few times a season and replacing them every couple of years, you can minimize these potential safety hazards while ensuring your ice auger is operating efficiently.
Can Ice Auger Blades Be Sharpened?
Yes, ice auger blades can be sharpened. Doing so yourself will save you time and money compared to mailing in your ice auger blades and waiting for them to be mailed back to you.
There are two basic ways to sharpen your blades. You can either use a whetstone or sandpaper.
Both methods take some practice to master. But, after a few times, you will be able to maintain your blades’ sharpness with minimal effort.
You will want to inspect your ice auger’s blades after each ice fishing session to make yourself aware of the development of any areas that need attention. You do not need to sharpen them after each outing.
You will develop a feel for how often you should sharpen your ice auger’s blades based on your frequency of use.
Ice Auger Blade Sharpening Techniques
There is one thing you DON’T want to do when it comes to sharpening ice auger blades.
Ice auger blades should never be sharpened with a power grinder, even if they’ve been cooled in water first.
Most of the time, you will raise the temperature of the thin edge, destroying its temper and causing it soften so much that it no longer stays sharp.
Let’s now discuss how to sharpen ice auger blades step by step.
Using a whetstone to sharpen your ice auger blades is a simple process that can be done at home, saving you time and money.
Whetstones come in a variety of coarseness and they are assigned a numerical value. The higher the number, the higher the grit.
The grit measures how much metal is removed from a blade edge with each pass of the whetstone across the blade.
A whetstone with a high grit number, like 5000, for example, is ultra-fine and may have more of a polishing effect.
A whetstone with a low grit number is extra coarse. The extra coarseness will strip away layers of metal, exposing new layers.
The main idea is to begin with a whetstone with a low grit number and gradually increase the grit factor until you are finely polishing the newly exposed layers of unused metal.
One last thing to note is that a whetstone is called a whetstone because it is soaked in water prior to and during use.
In addition to serving as a lubricant, water helps remove the built-up metal particles from the stone’s surface.
See below for a step by step guide to using the whetstone method for sharpening your ice auger blades.
The Whetstone Method
Before you begin, you will need to acquire all the proper material you will need to complete this process.
- 3-Whetstones ranging in grit from coarse to fine and then to ultra-fine.
- A bucket of water to continuously dip your stones in to keep them constantly lubricated.
- A sharpie marker.
Step 1 – Preparation
In preparation for sharpening your ice auger blades, make sure to soak all your whetstones in the bucket of water.
Next, inspect your blades and identify any areas of particular concern, including nicks, rust, and chips. Basically, anywhere you will need to apply some extra tender loving care.
Also, take notice of how each blade has three different surfaces, also called bevels. There is a back bevel, a secondary bevel, and a primary bevel.
You will treat each bevel a little differently and work each one at different times in a specific order beginning with the primary bevel.
Step 2 – Guide
The “guide” step is where you will use the sharpie marker. Take the marker and color the entire blade with a thin coat.
As the marker is removed from the blade during the sharpening process, you will be able to make sure you are correctly sharpening the entire surface and not missing any areas unintentionally.
Step 3 – Coarse on the Primary Bevel
Place the whetstone that is the coarsest, which is also the one with the lowest grit number, onto the table in front of you.
Pick up the first blade that you want to sharpen and identify the primary bevel.
The primary bevel is the largest angled surface on the blade.
Now begin to slide the primary bevel across the whetstone in a sweeping motion. Only sweep in one direction; ideally the motion should be going away from you.
Your strokes should be long, and you should apply light pressure with each stroke. You will begin to notice the marker disappearing. Do this until all the marker is removed.
Step 4 – Refine the Primary Bevel
Once all the marker has been removed, you should have ground the primary bevel to a flat and even surface.
Now, replace the low grit whetstone with your next level up whetstone. Repeat the exact same process as you did in step three. This time you do not need the sharpie marker.
Simply continue the sweeping motion until you achieve the level of polish you want.
Step 5 – Sharpen the Secondary Bevel
Now it is time to use the highest grit and finest whetstone of the three you have previously selected. Lay the stone down in place of where the medium-grit stone was lying.
Next, identify the secondary bevel. The secondary bevel will be the second-largest surface, and it will be angled as well.
Go ahead and make the same sweeping motion you did to the primary bevel but this time to the secondary.
It is vital here that you use extremely light pressure and that you do not create any contact between the stone and the primary bevel at this time.
Why is it important to sharpen the secondary bevel?
The job of the secondary bevel is to make the entire blade edge tougher. By creating this extra layer of toughness, the life of your auger blade will tenfold.
Step 6 – Clean up the Back Bevel
The back bevel is the tiniest and the last surface you will want to clean up to complete the entire process of sharpening your ice auger blades.
You are essentially doing the same process you did to the secondary process to the back process.
Use the same ultra-light pressure you did before, and this time do not create any contact between the stone and either the primary or secondary bevel.
Just a Few Quick Reminders
- Make sure you are wetting the stones throughout the entire process after the initial soak.
- Make sure there is no sharpie marker left anywhere on the blade to ensure you have thoroughly sharpened the blade.
- Be careful and make sure you are using the correct stone for each of the different bevels.
- Only apply little to very little pressure while sweeping the blade across the stone. Let the stone do the work.
Further Reading: Top Ice Flashers For the Money
How often should you change ice auger blades?
How often you should change ice auger blades depends greatly on how much you use your ice auger.
Generally speaking, if you use your ice auger frequently, you should sharpen it three to four times a season and replace it at the beginning of every new ice fishing season.
If you use your ice auger sparingly, sharpen your blades halfway through each season and replace them every 2 to 3 years.
Just be sure you inspect them regularly and take notice when they begin to look in poor shape or if you notice a significant change in the blades’ performance.
How do you sharpen ice auger blades with sandpaper?
Here is how to sharpen ice auger blades with sandpaper:
Take a flat smooth surface like a piece of heavy glass, or even better, a ceramic floor tile. Again, you will want three different grits of sandpaper ranging from coarse to ultra-fine.
It may be best to have three ceramic floor tiles, one for each grit of sandpaper. The sandpaper should be the wet/dry kind.
Now take each grit of sandpaper and cut a piece that is a little smaller than the tile. Tape down the sandpaper to each tile so that it is smooth, tight, and without wrinkles.
Now wet your blades using the nearby bucket of water and follow the same exact process that you would use for the whetstone. The sandpaper simply replaces the whetstone.
At what angle should you sharpen ice auger blades?
The ideal angle to sharpen your ice auger blades is about 40-degree or a little less.