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Woodsman® Broadhead Sharpening Techniques

Rotating Woodsman broadhead

With the use of our Woodsman® broadheads comes the responsibility of going afield with nothing but shaving sharp tools. The Woodsman® broadhead will do its job if you do yours.

They are sharp, but EVERYONE has a different definition of "hunting sharp." 3Rivers does not advertise them as "sharp out of the box," but for some they would consider them that. 3Rivers recommends using a hone and they'll be perfect. One of the many advantages of shooting Woodsman® broadheads is the fact they can be used over and over again. Unlike most high-tech heads, you are not longer married to replacement blade suppliers. A single Woodsman® broadhead may account for numerous animals.

Your Woodsman® broadheads have been ground flat at the factory. Because of it's three blade design, the Woodsman® broadhead is one of the easiest broadheads on the market to sharpen. We offer our customers several sharpening options. Try each of them to see which works best for you. Like a fisherman who enjoys tying his own flies, there is a sincere element of personal satisfaction involved in sharpening your own broadheads. But with that satisfaction comes the responsibility of using the right tools.

The first step is to mount each of your broadheads on an arrow shaft. If you prefer sharpening your broadheads before mounting, be sure to wear leather gloves and use a tool for holding the broadheads, such as 3Rivers Broadhead Holder item #8063-1. Then use one of the sharpening methods listed below.


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  • Option # 1: File Method

Start with a clean file. If your file is new, we recommend use of chalk to save wear on teeth and to prevent "pinning", the buildup of small metal chips in the teeth of your file. Filling file teeth with chalk will increase the effectiveness of a file. It extends file life and produces a smoother, more professional finish. Metal removal is faster and easier too. Initial filing can be done different ways, using several types of files.

We recommend use of a 12" single-cut bastard. Our 12" Grobet Bastard file is perfect for this. It's wider than the two blade width of your Woodsman® broadhead so you can sharpen two edges at once. The broadhead becomes its own "sharpening jig." Lay the file flat on a table so it doesn't slide. Pull your mounted broadhead into the teeth. (Not your wife's favorite table! Your work bench.)

File teeth are meant to cut in one direction only. Sliding a broadhead back and forth on a file will prematurely wear down teeth. Keep your files clean except for file chalk. Most bowhunters tend to use their files too long. Worn teeth can only be corrected by purchasing a new file. No file will last forever. When teeth wear down replace your file.

The biggest single mistake many bowhunters make when filing their broadheads is that they "try too hard." Frustration in getting a good edge often forces one to remove unnecessary amounts of metal. Initial strokes are used with moderate pressure but always finish filing with VERY LIGHT file strokes, rotating the broadhead regularly. Many people count down strokes as they rotate their broadhead.

We do not recommend use of angled file sharpening systems for the Woodsman® broadheads. Two files set parallel at an angle always have a small space or gap between each file. Your broadhead tip rides on/in this space. Metal removal at the tip will weaken structural integrity of the broadhead.

Keep the broadhead perfectly flat on the file. Raising the tip slightly will take too much metal off the rear of the blades. With hand held files, push the file from the back of the broadhead toward the tip. When using the big 12" file, draw the head to you, filing from the heel toward the point.


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  • Option # 2: Belt Sanders

Those people who own belt sanders can use them to sharpen two blades at a time. Those who own belt sanders already understand how to use them. Fine grit belts do a nice job quickly and easily. Just remember to hold the broadhead perfectly flat, two blades at a time. Don't let the blades overheat through friction. Again, finish with very light pressure on a fine grit belt or very fine sandpaper.
Be very careful if you use this method! Overheating the blades can ruin them and it's very easy to remove too much material from either side. Pay attention and be safe!


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  • Option # 3: Hollow Grinding

Hollow ground edges have two concave edge surfaces on each blade.
We offer a quality Hollowground Sharpener that works very well on two and three blade heads. It even includes a ceramic rod for the final stropping of your finished edge.

Another form of hollow grinding can be accomplished with a standard 6" bench grinder and a fine grit wheel. These wheels are usually six inches in diameter by 3/4" wide. As the grinding wheel is spinning at high speed toward you, pull your mounted broadhead across the 3/4" front edge of the wheel from heel to point, rotating the head after each pass. The slight curvature of the grinding wheel will sit inside two blades at a time to hollow grind both blades at once. Again, don't overheat blades and finish with very light passes.


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The biggest secret to honing is to use something very hard with a fine grit. We recommend either a Black Hard Arkansas stone, a fine grit flat diamond bench stone or a ceramic rod/stone laid flat on a table. Use water as a lubricant, not oil. The Stubby Jewelstik® Diamond Hone Sharpener do an excellent job. Again, finish honing with very light pressure.

A final polished edge is best achieved by stropping your broadhead on a piece of tanned leather glued to a wooden block base with contact cement. Pull the broadhead toward you, heel first. The above methods should leave you with a wickedly sharp broadhead with edges that easily shave hair from your arm. As a final step, we recommend coating each edge with lip gloss such as Chapstick to prevent oxidation in wet weather. Or for more permanant protection, try the new "Protect-A-Edge" coating.


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Whistling Problems and Bent Tips

We occasionally get comments such as, "I bought a dozen of your heads. One or two of them seem to whistle in flight. Are they defective? Will this make game jump the string?"

Any broadhead with vented blades has the potential to whistle in flight. Whistling is caused by air passing over the rear portion of the vent at high speed. Your Woodsman® broadheads have been inspected at the factory for warpage and quality control.

Hold a Woodsman® in your hand and point it directly at your eye. You should not be able to see the rear vent. Now cock it even less than one millimeter off center and you will see a vent edge. 99% of whistling problems are caused by broadheads that are not on straight. Aerodynamically, your Woodsman® broadhead is made to fly perfectly true. All broadheads need to be glued on perfectly true and spin-tested for wobble. If a broadhead whistles, re-glue it after spinning. For the very small percentage of broadheads that continue to whistle, we suggest touching up the inside edge of the vent with a Dremmel tool. Slightly grinding each inside rear flat vent edge will usually eliminate any remaining whistle. Some people use a small coating of Vaseline on the inside rear vent with good results.

Two other things that might cause whistling is arrows that are spined wrong and/or fletching problems. Neither of these are broadhead problems and each has to be addressed accordingly.


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