In fact, tools that are designed to be razor sharp – such as knives and chisels – tend to go blunt very quickly while you’re using them, especially if you’re cutting hard materials. To sharpen a gouge, hold it 10 degrees to the stone and slide it back and forth while simultaneously rolling it so that you remove the same amount of material along the entire bevel. Even if you go the sandpaper route make sure that you get a guide and when you get one get your bevel-T square and a protractor (from Rite Aid) to check that the distance for the stop blocks is correct. We have found that using an al oxide sanding belt provides the easiest and quickest way to sharpen. Flip the stone over to the blue side, which is equivalent to about a 325 grit paper. Learning to sharpen carving tools takes time, patience and practice, much like carving.
The second angle (usually 30°) is called the cutting angle and allows for easier sharpening of the chisel itself. The best test for sharpness is to cut a small corner off a scrap piece of wood and feel that nice, no resistance slice that leaves the wood shiny, but if you must test on your finger, use a thumb nail and see how low of an angle it will bite. You’ll see quite clearly where the stone has abraded the bevel, and that will tell you exactly what to do next.
You may want to vary the angle to as low as 25 degrees depending on the on the wood and other factors. A Japanese chisel (OIRE NOMI) is traditionally supplied ex-works neither sharpened nor fixed tight in its ferrule. The colors are random, I make no guarantees about the squareness or precise size or precise flatness, just that they’re big enough for half-sheets of sandpaper and flat enough to sharpen with. After honing the chisel it is important to remove the burr on the back edge of the chisel.
First, the back of the chisel must be honed on a flat coarse stone (#1200 or #2000 grit stone preferred) until the area directly behind the cutting edge is completely flat across the width of the chisel. But if you prefer to use a honing guide to hold your chisels at the correct bevel angle, or maybe a motorized sharpener, by all means do it. They all work if you take the time to get familiar with them.
For example, if you wanted to use a skew angle of 30 degrees, you would make a 30 degree wedge the length of your plane and adhere it to the right hand side of your plane (assuming the plane would run on its right side when shooting), sharp end to the back of the plane. You don’t want to put too much pressure here, but you do want to make sure you’re holding the lathe tool firmly against the grindstone so that it’s not bouncing or moving around.
Sometimes chisels are slightly uneven in thickness and this means that grinding the bevel is not about just rolling the bevel on the grindstone, but looking at the edge every two or three passes to ensure that an even thickness of edge is being created. Honing the chisels is pretty straight forward – just drag the edge across the paper, one side, then the other, until you’ve established a nice sharp edge. Bevel and hone on the leather wheel with the compound, but for the back of the chisel I use a stone. But then the sandpaper wears out pretty quickly, and it retails for around a dollar a sheet.
The Ultimate Sharpening Jig has such versatility that by using various shims and wedges you can secure corner chisels, carving chisels or just about any shaped tool for sharpening. Some people favor a thorough stropping at this stage, which is drawing the blade of the chisel across a leather surface that has had a polishing compound applied. After you have used the finer abrasives turn the chisel over and grind the back just enough to get rid of the burr. As a result there is a tendency for these chisels to become more pointed (toward a smaller nose radius) as they are sharpened.
That statement was pure BS. I like the 1000 stone but find I can get a better polish with 1200 sandpaper. Press the chisel gently against the wheel, moving it back and forth across the face of the stone, applying pressure evenly. Most beginners should start out using a honing guide on hand plane irons as well. We recommend Waterstones as the best value for sharpening most hand tools for woodworking.
My neighbour often brings me nail-dented dull chisels, used for everything but cutting wood, and I never sharpen it beyond a 400 grit, (too dangerous and a waste of good steel). The same force of impact that you impart to a 2″ chisel translates to a force eight times greater when you apply it to a quarter-inch chisel. Just look at the pile of chips that accumulate around a wood lathe and you will be convinced of this fact.
The cutting edge of a chisel looks, in cross section, like the apex of a long triangle. Once the blade is sharp, only strop it after that either by hand with a leather strop or with a buffing wheel. Cut a strip of sandpaper equal to the length of the chisel you’re going to hone. If the Japanese chisel- maker went to all that trouble, the least we can do is to use only hand-honing methods on our Japanese chisels.
If you didn’t care about using hand tools well you would not have read this far, so I salute you for caring about what you do. Working with classic hand tools can be a richly rewarding way to spend time in the shop, and I hope they’ll make your woodworking better, more productive and more fun for many years to come. Working the chisel back and forth in the slurry on the glass will further sharpen and polish the cutting edge.
A dull axe or maul can easily fail to bite into the wood being split and, instead, graze off to one side or another and cut a foot, lay bare a shin or break a knee. Because the wood is passing the chisel at 20 miles per hour for prolonged periods of time, a turning chisel will traverse more wood in a few minutes than any carving chisel could in years. Note that plywood and particleboard will dull sharp blades more quickly than solid timber, because the glue in these manufactured boards is harder than the wood fibres. That just prolongs the abrasive so you’re not wearing it out on one portion of the stone.
The grinding wheel needs to be the correct grade and grit size to be able to grind the chisel steel but also avoid heating up and burning the steel. No matter what technique or mechanism you use to sharpen your chisels, get comfortable using it and return to it regularly to touch up your tools. Let the rear of the chisel’s back ride off the side of the stone while honing it and you’ll get the front part polished and properly sharp without having to do the entire back. It might seem frustrating and counterproductive to stop so often, but this is crucial if you’re going to train yourself to sharpen well.
Also below are references to pages and clips showing other procedures relating to sharpening chisels and drill bits. Raise the chisel in the wooden guide by 1 or 2 degrees to create a secondary micro-bevel,” which you can see in this closeup. Once that’s done, secure your jig in place so that you’re 100% certain there will be no movement in the jig while sharpening your lathe tools. I see several hundred new students in my classroom each year, all anxious to start chopping wood. I do this with a bit of 320 grit sandpaper rolled around a small length of dowel of appropriate diameter for the gouges, and a small block of wood for the parting tools.
So make sure the wood chisel is properly oriented for the project you are working on. Rarely do I have the beveled side facing up. When using a wood chisel, I know that I will get a better final job if I work down through the wood slowly – so I cut shallow and make more passes. Then sharpen each bevel separately, being careful to remove the same amount of material on both wings.
Is there something that I could have done wrong or are my set of chisels of poor quality. Hold the bevel of the damaged chisel flat to the grinding wheel to remove large gouges, dirt or rust. I’ve gotten good results with waterstones but nothing like the sandpaper method. When I use sandpaper I used many different grits and ended up with the 600 for a quick sharpen or went on to the really fine grades and stropping for a deluxe edge. It’s best to practice your sharpening on a shallow gouge first, such as a #3. (For more on selecting carving tools, click here ). To hone the outside bevel, grip the gouge with your right hand, and lay your index finger inside the flute.
For example, the smaller nose radius allows for easier piercing of the surface for initiating cuts (coves) at very high vertical angles, while the wider nose chisels generally make it easier to produce a smooth cut on flat surfaces or the bottom of coves. However, very narrow chisels (with cutting edge shorter than the length of the bevel) are an exception to this rule. If you want to go even higher, and get your chisel to shine like a mirror, pick up a pack of 1500 or 2000 grit sandpaper. As I explained in an earlier post , I use a combination of diamond stones and an oil stone.