How do I do what I do?
I've been a bench jeweler for over 20 years and an ice climber for over 15 years. I've been sharpening and modifying my ice screws (not to mention a bunch of my friend's screws) since I started climbing ice and have a deep understanding of what it takes to make a great screw : One that goes in easily and has the most secure possible placement. I've
had amazing success sharpening my own screws.
I'm not kidding when I say that they work like new, if not better (I've taken
a lot of old and trashed screws and made them work like a brand new BD Express (My
partners will attest to this!), after I get done with them. I never over-heat the metal by keeping a strong cold airflow on my work and constantly rotating the screw from point to point.
What makes a secure placement?
The strongest placement
will have the least amount of ice fracture surrounding the screw, so that if it
were to be loaded (a fall, for instance) it has very little area to shift and,
therefore, fracture less surrounding ice. If you think of the screw hole in the ice as a "negative space, it should fit the screw exactly with no extra space between the two. To help ensure this, all burs and bumps on the screw that may stick out, need to be taken down to match the original shape. Quite simply, the screw should cut a perfect hole and all of the ice shavings should funnel easily through the center tube.
This is my typical method of
Sharpening a Screw:
For sharpening ice axe picks:
Using rough and then fine hand files, I re-create the original angle of the nose as best as possible while removing as little metal as is necessary. I add a 45 degree angle to the sides and address the first couple of teeth to make sure they have the necessary bite. I finish by lubricating with a light coat of oil.
For sharpening crampons:
Similar to how I sharpen picks, I use rough and finer files to maintain proper symmetry and sharpen the teeth and front points. Finish, of course, with a very light coat of oil.
For the Revolutionary Express Cut
and Custom Lengths: