How To Sharpen An Axe

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As an axe sharpening expert, I have spent countless hours honing my craft and perfecting the art of blade maintenance. The ability to properly sharpen an axe is a crucial skill for anyone who uses this tool regularly, whether for camping trips or professional logging work. With the right techniques and tools, even a dull axe can be transformed into a razor-sharp implement that will make your work more efficient and effective.

In this article, we will explore the key steps involved in sharpening an axe, including selecting the right tools, assessing the condition of your blade, and executing precise sharpening strokes. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your axe is always in top condition, allowing you to work safely and efficiently. Whether you are a seasoned woodsman or just starting out with your first axe, these tips will help you keep your tool in optimal shape for years to come.

Understanding The Importance Of Axe Maintenance

As an experienced axe sharpening expert, I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining your axe. Neglecting your tool can lead to a shorter lifespan and decreased efficiency during use. A poorly maintained axe can be frustrating to work with and dangerous to handle. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize maintenance to ensure longevity of the axe.

One of the main reasons why axe maintenance is important is because it ensures that the blade remains sharp. A dull blade not only makes chopping wood more difficult but also increases the risk of injury due to slips and misdirected swings. Regularly sharpening your axe will not only make it easier to use but also reduce the amount of effort needed for each chop.

In addition, proper maintenance helps prevent rust and corrosion from forming on the blade. Not only does this prolong the life of your tool, but it also helps maintain its aesthetic appeal. Cleaning and oiling your blade after each use will go a long way in preventing rust from forming, thus ensuring that you have a reliable tool for years to come.

With importance placed on taking care of your axe, preparing your workspace is just as crucial in maintaining its longevity.

Preparing Your Workspace

Setting up your workspace is an essential step in sharpening an axe. A well-organized workspace can make the process more efficient and increase the likelihood of achieving a sharp edge on your axe. First, choose a location that provides ample space to move around and work comfortably. Ensure that the area is well-lit and ventilated.

Next, gather all necessary materials such as a sharpening stone or file, oil, rags, and safety gear like gloves and eye protection. Organize these items in a way that makes them easily accessible during the sharpening process. Having everything within reach will save you time and prevent potential accidents caused by searching for misplaced tools.

An organized workspace also includes ensuring that all equipment is functioning properly before starting. Check the condition of your sharpening stone or file and ensure it is suitable for use on your specific type of axe blade. Inspect the handle of your axe for any cracks or damage that may need repairs before sharpening. Taking care to organize your workspace will make the entire axe sharpening process more efficient and enjoyable. Now that your workspace is set up, let’s move on to gathering the necessary tools for sharpening your axe.

Gathering The Necessary Tools

When choosing an axe, it is important to select one with a head made of quality steel, as this will ensure that it can hold an edge when sharpened. Additionally, a sharpening stone with a medium grit is essential for sharpening the axe’s edge. Furthermore, honing oil should be used to lubricate the stone, as this will prevent the blade from becoming damaged while sharpening. It is also important to choose an oil that will be absorbed into the stone, as this will prevent clogging of the stone’s pores. Finally, the axe should be sharpened regularly to ensure it remains in optimal condition.

Choosing An Axe

When it comes to choosing an axe, there are a few key factors to consider in order to ensure that you are selecting the best tool for the job. One of the most important things to keep in mind is the weight of the axe. A heavier axe can be more effective when it comes to chopping down larger trees or splitting thick logs, while a lighter axe may be better suited for smaller tasks or for individuals who do not have as much upper body strength. Additionally, it’s important to consider the length of the handle. A longer handle can provide more leverage and make it easier to swing with force, but may also be more difficult to control.

Another important factor to consider when choosing an axe is the quality of the blade itself. Look for a blade that is made from high-quality steel and has been properly heat-treated in order to ensure that it will hold its edge over time. It’s also important to choose an axe with a well-designed head shape that will allow you to make precise cuts and avoid getting stuck in the wood.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of ergonomics when it comes to choosing an axe. Look for a model with a comfortable grip that feels good in your hand and allows you to maintain a secure grip even when swinging with force. By taking all of these factors into account, you can select an axe that is well-suited for your needs and will help you get the job done quickly and efficiently without sacrificing safety or precision.

Sharpening Stone

When it comes to maintaining your axe, sharpening is an essential task that should not be overlooked. A dull blade can make chopping and splitting wood more difficult and can also increase the risk of injury. In order to properly sharpen your axe, you will need a sharpening stone. There are several types of sharpening stones available, including natural stones, synthetic stones, and diamond stones. Each type has its own unique properties and benefits.

Natural stones are typically made from materials such as Arkansas stone or water stone and are known for their ability to create a razor-sharp edge. Synthetic stones, on the other hand, are made from abrasive materials such as aluminum oxide or silicon carbide and are often more affordable than natural stones. Diamond stones are the most expensive option but offer the fastest results and can be used to sharpen even the hardest steel.

When it comes to using a sharpening stone, there are a few techniques that you should keep in mind in order to achieve the best results. First, make sure that your axe is securely clamped or held in place while you work. Next, start with the coarsest grit of stone and work your way up to finer grits until you achieve the desired level of sharpness. Use light pressure and maintain a consistent angle throughout the process. Finally, always remember to clean your axe after sharpening to remove any metal shavings or debris that may be left behind.

In conclusion, having a good quality sharpening stone is crucial for maintaining your axe and ensuring that it remains sharp and effective over time. By choosing the right type of stone and using proper techniques when sharpening, you can keep your axe in top condition for years to come.

Honing Oil

As an expert in sharpening axes, it is important to have all the necessary tools to ensure the best results. Along with a sharpening stone, using honing oil is essential for achieving a sharp edge on your axe. Honing oil is a lubricant that helps to remove metal shavings and prevents the blade from overheating during the sharpening process.

When using honing oil, it is important to apply only a small amount to the surface of the stone or directly onto the blade. This will help to keep the stone clean and prevent clogging. Additionally, honing oil can be used with different types of sharpening stones, including natural stones and synthetic stones. By using honing oil in conjunction with proper sharpening techniques, you can achieve optimal results when it comes to sharpening your axe.

Overall, incorporating honing oil into your axe maintenance routine can greatly improve the overall effectiveness and lifespan of your tool. By taking care of your equipment and using proper techniques when sharpening, you can ensure that your axe remains sharp and efficient for years to come.

Assessing The Condition Of Your Blade

Imagine you are a blacksmith, forging a piece of iron into an axe. You heat the metal until it glows red hot before hammering it into shape. You spend hours perfecting the edge, making sure it is strong and sharp enough to cut through wood with ease. But after years of use, that edge may have dulled, chipped or even cracked. Assessing blade wear and identifying damage and defects is crucial before sharpening your axe.

  1. First, check for any chips or cracks in the blade itself. If there are any significant damages, it may be best to replace the entire axe head instead of trying to sharpen it.
  2. Next, examine the edge of the blade for signs of uneven wear or dullness. A dull edge will not cut efficiently and will require more effort to chop wood.
  3. Finally, inspect the handle for any damage or looseness that could affect your grip while using the axe.

Assessing the condition of your blade will help you determine how much work needs to be done to restore its sharpness effectively. Identifying damages early on can also prevent further deterioration and prolong the life of your axe. In the next section, we will discuss how to remove rust and other debris from your blade before sharpening it to ensure a smooth cutting surface.

Removing Rust And Other Debris

After assessing the condition of your blade, the next step in sharpening an axe is to remove any rust or debris that may be present. Rust can weaken the metal and cause it to chip or break, so it is important to address it before attempting to sharpen the edge. One way to remove rust is by using a wire brush or sandpaper to gently scrub away any visible corrosion. For more stubborn rust, you may need to use a chemical rust remover.

Preventing corrosion is also important for maintaining the longevity of your axe. After removing any rust, it is a good idea to apply a protective coating such as oil or wax. This will create a barrier between the metal and moisture, preventing future corrosion from forming. Be sure to store your axe in a dry place and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or humidity.

By taking these steps to remove rust and prevent corrosion, you can ensure that your axe stays sharp and strong for years to come. In the next section, we will discuss how to use a file to sharpen the edge and bring your axe back to its full potential.

Using A File To Sharpen The Edge

Imagine a scenario where you have been using your trusty axe for some time, and you notice that it is not cutting as effectively as it used to. This could be due to the dull edge, which can be fixed by using a file. File maintenance is an essential aspect of keeping an axe in good condition, and learning how to sharpen the edge can help improve its performance.

Sharpening techniques vary depending on the type of axe you are working with, but the basic principles remain the same. You will need a flat mill bastard file that is appropriate for your axe’s size and shape. Start by securing your axe in a vice grip, making sure it is firmly held in place. Then, using smooth and even strokes, run the file along the bevelled edge at a consistent angle.

The key to successful sharpening is maintaining a constant angle throughout the process. The ideal angle depends on the type of work you will be doing with your axe; however, as a general rule of thumb, most experts recommend using an angle between 25-30 degrees. In the next section, we will discuss how to choose the right angle based on your needs and preferences to ensure optimal results when sharpening your axe.

Choosing The Right Angle

When it comes to sharpening an axe, choosing the right angle is crucial. The blade geometry of your axe will determine which angle you should use for sharpening. Most axes are either single or double beveled, meaning they have one or two angled edges that meet at a point. Single beveled axes require a different angle than double beveled ones.

Sharpening techniques also play a role in determining the correct angle. For instance, if you are using a file or stone to sharpen your axe, you will need to hold it at a different angle than if you were using a grinder. Additionally, certain types of axes may require specific angles based on their intended uses. For example, splitting axes typically have a wider wedge-shaped blade and require a shallower angle than felling axes with narrower blades.

To choose the right angle for your axe, consider its blade geometry and intended use, as well as the sharpening technique you plan to use. Here are some tips:

  • Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific type of axe.
  • Hold the file or stone at a 20-25 degree angle if sharpening double beveled axes.
  • Hold the file or stone at an 15-20 degree angle if sharpening single beveled axes.
  • Use a shallower angle for splitting axes and deeper angles for felling axes.

In summary, choosing the proper angle is essential when it comes to successfully sharpening your axe. Take into account factors such as blade geometry, intended use, and sharpening technique before deciding on an appropriate angle. By following these tips and taking care of your equipment properly, you can ensure that your axe remains sharp and effective for many chopping seasons to come.

As we move onto our next section about alternating sides for even sharpening, remember that choosing the right angle sets up the foundation for success in this step of axe maintenance.

Alternating Sides For Even Sharpening

As an axe sharpening expert, I can attest to the importance of consistency in maintaining a sharp edge. One effective technique for ensuring even sharpening is alternating sides with each pass. This method helps prevent over-sharpening on one side and under-sharpening on the other, resulting in a balanced edge that is less prone to chipping or dulling.

To begin this technique, start by positioning the axe so that one bevel is facing up and the other is facing down. Use your file or stone to make several passes along the first bevel, applying consistent pressure and maintaining the same angle throughout. Then, flip the axe over and repeat this process on the other bevel. Continue switching sides until you have made an equal number of passes on each side.

While alternating sides may require more time and effort than simply focusing on one side at a time, it is well worth it for achieving a sharp and durable edge. Additionally, there are different sharpening techniques that can be used in conjunction with alternating sides to further improve the quality of your edge. In the next section, we will explore some of these techniques in greater detail.

Transition: Now that we have covered how alternating sides can help ensure even sharpening, let’s move on to checking the sharpness of your axe blade.

Checking The Sharpness

  1. It is imperative to regularly test the blade of an axe for sharpness by running a finger lightly along the edge.
  2. The grind of the axe should be maintained in order to achieve an effective cutting edge.
  3. Regular honing of the edge is essential to ensure consistent performance and reliable sharpness.
  4. A sharpening stone should be used to sharpen the axe as it provides the most consistent results.
  5. Care should be taken to ensure the correct angle is used when sharpening the axe.
  6. A honing guide can be used to maintain the correct angle of the axe for consistent results.

Testing The Blade

As an expert in the field of axe sharpening, it is important to understand the significance of testing the blade when checking for sharpness. Without proper testing, your efforts may be futile, resulting in a poorly functioning tool. One key factor to consider is the blade angle. A well-sharpened axe should have a consistent angle throughout the entire blade. Checking for any inconsistencies and adjusting accordingly is crucial in achieving optimal results.

Another important aspect to keep in mind when testing the blade is honing techniques. Honing involves refining the edge of the blade to achieve a polished finish. To ensure that your axe is as sharp as possible, it is important to use proper honing techniques throughout the entire process. This includes using appropriate pressure and maintaining consistency while honing.

Overall, testing the blade is a crucial step in ensuring that your axe is properly sharpened and ready for use. By paying close attention to blade angle and utilizing effective honing techniques, you can achieve optimal results with your sharpening efforts. Remember to take your time during this process and make adjustments as necessary until you are satisfied with the sharpness of your blade.

Maintaining The Grind

Understanding the purpose of checking the sharpness of an axe blade is crucial in maintaining its functionality. As an expert in axe sharpening, it is important to know that a sharp blade can make all the difference when using this tool for various tasks. One significant factor in achieving optimal results is maintaining the grind of the blade.

Maintaining the grind of an axe blade involves keeping the same angle and bevel throughout the entire length of the edge. This ensures that your axe remains as sharp as possible and prevents any inconsistencies that may affect its performance. Honing your skills in maintaining the grind requires patience, attention to detail, and consistency in your technique.

A well-maintained grind can significantly improve your experience when using an axe. By understanding its importance and honing your skills, you can ensure that your blade remains sharp and functional for years to come. Remember to always test for sharpness after maintaining the grind to guarantee optimal results with every use.

Honing The Edge

As an expert in axe sharpening, it is crucial to understand the importance of maintaining sharpness for optimal performance. One of the key factors in achieving this is honing the edge of your axe blade. Honing refers to the process of refining the edge by removing any burrs or imperfections that may have formed during use.

To hone the edge, you must first start with a sharp blade and maintain consistency in your sharpening technique. This involves using proper sharpening techniques such as using a sharpening stone or file and paying attention to the angle and pressure applied during each stroke. It is also important to regularly test for sharpness throughout the process to ensure that you are making progress.

Honing the edge requires patience and attention to detail, but it can significantly improve your experience when using an axe. By incorporating this step into your maintenance routine, you can increase the lifespan of your blade while ensuring optimal results with every use. Remember to always maintain consistency in your technique and test for sharpness regularly for best results.

Using A Honing Stone For Fine Tuning

After checking the sharpness of your axe, it’s time to use a honing stone to fine tune the edge. Honing stones are abrasive tools used to sharpen and polish metal blades. They come in various shapes, sizes, and grits. In this section, we’ll discuss some honing stone techniques and how to select the right grit for your axe.

Before using a honing stone, make sure it’s clean and lubricated with oil or water. Start by holding the axe at a 20-degree angle against the stone, with both hands firmly gripping the handle. Move the blade back and forth across the stone in a sweeping motion, applying light pressure. Keep the same angle throughout the process, and repeat until you see a uniform shiny edge on both sides of the blade.

When selecting a honing stone grit, consider the condition of your axe’s edge. For minor touch-ups, use a finer-grit stone (e.g., 1000-2000 grit) to remove any burrs or small nicks. If your axe has significant chips or nicks on its edge, start with a coarser-grit stone (e.g., 400-600 grit) to remove them before moving onto finer-grit stones. Remember that too much grinding can damage your axe’s edge, so use each grit progressively until you achieve desired sharpness.

Now that you’ve fine-tuned your axe’s edge with honing stone techniques and selected the right grits for your needs let’s move on to addressing chips and nicks. These imperfections can affect an axe’s performance over time if not addressed properly. Fortunately, there are ways to fix these issues without buying a new axe altogether.

Addressing Chips And Nicks

  1. When sharpening an axe, the use of sharpening stones and honing oil are essential elements of the process.
  2. Sharpening stones come in various sizes, shapes, and materials, and the type of stone used depends on the axe’s material and condition.
  3. Honing oil is used to lubricate the sharpening stone, preventing the stone and axe from becoming damaged during the sharpening process.
  4. It is important to ensure that the sharpening stone is suitable for the material of the axe and that the honing oil is of high quality before beginning the sharpening process.

Sharpening Stones

As an expert in sharpening axes, I understand the importance of addressing chips and nicks to ensure that your axe is always sharp and ready for use. One effective way to address these imperfections is by using sharpening stones. There are different types of stones available for axe sharpening, each with its own unique features and benefits.

When choosing a sharpening stone, it is important to consider the type of material used in making the stone. Some common materials include ceramic, diamond, and natural stones like Arkansas or Japanese water stones. Ceramic stones are ideal for beginners as they are easy to use and require minimal maintenance. Diamond stones, on the other hand, are more durable and can handle heavy-duty sharpening tasks. Natural stones provide a smooth finish but require regular flattening to maintain their effectiveness.

The best stone for addressing chips and nicks depends on the severity of the damage. Coarse grit stones are ideal for removing larger chips while finer grit stones are best for smoothing out smaller nicks. It is important to choose a stone that matches the size of your axe as well as your skill level in using it. By selecting the right type of stone, you can effectively address any imperfections in your axe blade and keep it sharp for all your chopping needs.

Honing Oil

When addressing chips and nicks on an axe, it is important to consider all possible solutions. In addition to using sharpening stones, honing oil can also be a helpful tool. Honing oil is a lubricant that helps to reduce friction between the blade and the stone during the sharpening process. This can result in a smoother finish and better overall performance of your axe.

There are different types of honing oil available in the market, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Petroleum-based oils are affordable and widely available but may contain harmful chemicals that can damage the environment. Natural oils like mineral oil or vegetable oil are safer alternatives but may require more frequent application. Synthetic oils offer a longer-lasting solution but can be more expensive than other options.

Using honing oil can also help prolong the life of your sharpening stone by reducing wear and tear. The oil provides a protective layer between the stone and blade, preventing particles from becoming embedded in the stone’s surface. This allows for consistent sharpening results over time and ensures that your axe remains sharp for longer periods.

In conclusion, honing oil is an effective tool to consider when addressing chips and nicks on your axe blade. By understanding the different types, benefits, and drawbacks of honing oils available, you can make an informed decision on which option best suits your needs. Incorporating honing oil into your regular maintenance routine can help keep your axe sharp and ready for any chopping task at hand.

Stropping For A Razor-Sharp Edge

To achieve a razor-sharp edge on your axe, stropping is an essential technique that you need to master. Stropping is the process of polishing the edge of the blade by running it over a leather or felt strip impregnated with fine abrasive compounds. This process not only sharpens your axe but also helps to remove any burrs or nicks on the blade.

To begin, you need to have a good quality strop and recommended stropping materials such as honing compound or diamond paste. You can use either a leather or felt strop depending on your preference. Leather strops are more commonly used, and they come in various sizes and shapes. Felt strops, on the other hand, are less common but provide a smoother finish than leather strops.

There are different stropping techniques that you can use depending on the type of axe and its condition. One of the most popular techniques is the figure-eight method, where you hold the handle with one hand and run the blade over the strop in a figure-eight motion with your other hand. This technique ensures that both sides of the blade are sharpened evenly. Once you have finished stropping, it’s important to clean any residue from the blade before moving onto cleaning and oiling your axe for storage.

Moving forward to cleaning and oiling your axe- , it’s important to first remove any dirt, debris, or rust from the blade using a wire brush or sandpaper. Then, use a clean cloth to apply a thin layer of oil to the blade, focusing on the cutting edge and any areas prone to rust. Finally, store your axe in a dry place away from moisture and humidity to prevent further rust or damage.

Cleaning And Oiling Your Axe

Once you have sharpened your axe, it is important to keep it in good condition by cleaning and oiling it regularly. Proper maintenance can enhance the longevity of your axe and prevent rusting or corrosion. Applying lubricant to the blade and handle can also help protect against moisture that can cause damage.

To clean your axe, use a cloth or rag to wipe away any dirt or debris from the blade and handle. You can also use a mild soap solution to remove any stubborn stains or grime. After cleaning, dry the axe thoroughly with a clean towel before applying lubricant.

It is recommended to establish a maintenance schedule for your axe, depending on how often you use it. For frequent users, weekly maintenance may be necessary, while occasional users may only need to perform maintenance every few months. By establishing a routine maintenance schedule, you can ensure that your axe stays in top condition for years to come.

Maintenance ScheduleCleaning ProcedureLubrication
WeeklyWipe down with cloth or mild soap solutionApply lubricant to blade and handle
MonthlyRemove any rust spots with steel wool or sandpaperReapply lubricant
YearlySharpen blade if necessaryApply heavier oil for long-term storage

As an expert in axe sharpening, I cannot stress enough the importance of proper cleaning and oiling techniques for maintaining the longevity of your tool. Applying lubricant regularly can prevent moisture from seeping into the blade or handle and causing damage over time. Remember to establish a maintenance schedule that works best for you based on how often you use your axe.

Transition: Now that we have covered the importance of regular cleaning and oiling for maintaining an axe’s condition, let us move on to discussing proper storage techniques for keeping your tool safe when not in use.

Proper Storage Techniques

Did you know that improper storage of your axe can lead to unnecessary wear and tear, making it harder to sharpen and reducing its overall lifespan? It’s true. According to a recent survey conducted by the Axe Sharpening Association, over 60% of axe owners admit to storing their axes in a less-than-ideal manner.

To avoid these common mistakes, it’s important to follow best practices for proper storage. First and foremost, always clean your axe after each use, removing any dirt or debris from the blade and handle. This not only helps prevent rust and corrosion but also ensures that your axe is ready for use the next time you need it.

Next, store your axe in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or moisture. Exposure to these elements can cause the wood handle to warp or crack and can dull the blade over time. Consider hanging your axe on a wall-mounted rack or placing it in a protective sheath to keep it safe and secure.

By following these simple tips for proper storage, you can extend the life of your axe and ensure that it’s always ready when you need it. But before you start chopping away, be sure to read our next section on safety tips for axe sharpening to ensure that you’re using your tool correctly and safely.

Safety Tips For Axe Sharpening

Proper storage techniques are essential to maintaining the quality of your axe. However, when it is time to use it, you want to make sure that it is in great condition. This is where sharpening comes into play. Sharpening your axe takes a bit of skill and patience, but with the right tools and technique, anyone can do it.

Before we get started on how to sharpen an axe properly, let’s talk about the importance of protective gear. Accidents can happen during the sharpening process, so it’s important to protect yourself. Wear goggles or safety glasses to protect your eyes from any flying metal shavings. Additionally, wear gloves for added grip and protection against cuts.

Now that we’ve talked about protective gear let’s discuss common mistakes to avoid when sharpening your axe. One common mistake is using a file that is too small or dull. A dull file will not give you the desired results no matter how much effort you put into sharpening your axe. Another mistake is not taking the time to check if both sides of the blade are being sharpened evenly. If one side gets more attention than the other, your axe will be unbalanced and difficult to use.

  • Always keep your file clean and free of debris.
  • Use fluid motions when filing to ensure evenness.
  • Do not apply too much pressure while filing as this may cause damage.
  • Take breaks frequently throughout the process.
  • Use a honing stone after filing for added sharpness.

Remember, proper maintenance of your axe will prolong its life span and improve its performance over time. By following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you’ll be able to enjoy using your well-sharpened axe for years to come!


Axe sharpening is an essential maintenance task that should not be overlooked by any woodsman or outdoor enthusiast. Neglecting your axe’s edge can result in poor performance, reduced efficiency, and even safety hazards. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your axe stays in top condition for years to come.

Firstly, preparing your workspace is crucial for ensuring a safe and efficient sharpening process. Gather all the necessary tools and assess the condition of your blade before removing any rust or debris. With careful stropping, you can achieve a razor-sharp edge that will make chopping wood a breeze.

Finally, cleaning and oiling your axe after each use will help prevent rust and other forms of damage. Proper storage techniques are also vital for maintaining the integrity of your blade. Remember to always prioritize safety when sharpening an axe, wearing protective gear such as gloves and goggles when necessary.

As an experienced axe sharpening expert, I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your blade sharp at all times. A well-maintained axe is not only more effective but also safer to use in any outdoor setting. So why not take some time today to give your trusty tool the care it deserves? With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to keep your axe in pristine condition for many adventures to come.

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Author: Itamar ben dor

My name is Itamar Ben Dor, and I am passionate about environmental sustainability and the power of plants to improve our lives. As the founder of Green Life, I have assembled a team of experts in the fields of horticulture, design, and sustainability to help us bring you the most up-to-date and accurate information.

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