Basic Chisel Sharpening Skills


While I’m sharpening stuff I’ll also do these chisels I bought on Ebay. They were sold as second hand but they hadn’t been used. And they’re quite an old brand here in the UK called Footprint. Who are still around but I don’t know if they make wood chisels – I think they mainly do masonry kit. But these are really nice bevelled chisels and I really like these handles. They’ve got a good grip to them and in this particular case they’re hi-vis. It would be very hard to misplace these.

I’ve already done one and you can see the micro bevel if I just catch the light. Nice sharp edge glimmering away there. If I grab a bit of paper.

So this one has the 25 degree bevel on it and I just need to do the micro bevel which is 30 degrees. And to do that I’m just using this simple jig that you can buy from pretty much anywhere. There’s a top and bottom clamping jaws. Its got one flat edge and a curve section, so I’m making sure that sits nicely in there. And I’m going to do that at 30mm.

I’m going to start with the 400, flip it over and do 1000 and this is 8000 and then I’ll strop it.

If this was a really knackered chisel a courser diamond stone would really help get that main 30° bevel back nice and quickly. One of the mistakes I made when I first started getting my sharpening kit was to spend my money on the higher grit whetstones – and that was a waste of time. 1000 grit was more than enough. And what would have been more useful to me would have been a course grit at around 200 a medium grit at 600 and a fine grit at 1000.

So it’s looking parallel.

The diamond stone uses water as a lubricant. I think I saw a Paul Seller’s where he window cleaner and that also works but whatever you do, don’t use oil.

I’m getting a little bit of a flake of metal coming off so it’s bending over. That’s a good sign and means the blade is sharpening correctly.

When I bought the 8000 grit stone I was convinced it was a fancy ceramic stone but it’s actually a Waterstone and need to be submerged in water for a few hours before sharpening.

I’m now taking that wire edge or burr off by pulling the back of the blade against the stone.

Ok that feels alright. I’ll just give it a wipe and then I’ll strop it.

At the final stage of polishing I’m going to use the back of a sanding disc.

And to get that edge nice and parallel, It’s a bit of trial and error. When you start using your honing guide, you work out when to push a little bit to one side or the other. And every so often you just have to look at what you’re doing and gauge whether you should change the way you’re doing it.

And just to make sure they stay sharp, I’m keeping the cap on.

And this is a shot of the burr on the following chisel I sharpened. It’s a real wafer of metal.

I also sharpened the plane iron for my low angle block plane. The one that I scuppered the a little while ago.

When I originally sharpened it, I used this honing guide which clamps from the top. It’s a bit difficult to use because it doesn’t self-align, and the large roller wheel underneath doesn’t pivot so you can’t compensate while sharpening if you’re a little off.

You can see if I place this across there that I haven’t done a great job and there’s a fair bit of material that needs to be taken off this side here.

I’ve tried loosening the clamps and placed an engineer’s-square against the front face of the honing guide with the square edge against the side of the plane.  But when I sharpen I could tell I was taking off material unevenly.

I can see why people don’t like this particular one – it’s pretty hard to get the thing square. I’m wondering whether I can modify it.

I decided to swap over to the more typical honing guide with an upper and lower clamping section. These die-cast tools have the settings for plane iron or chisel written on their sides. On mine the upper clamp requires a 50mm protrusion to make the 25° main bevel, and 38mm for the 30° micro bevel, and at the lower clamp this is 40mm for 25° and 30mm for 30°.

I sharpened the iron in pretty much the same way I did the chisels.

And this is the low block plane at work.

And the thing no one ever tells you is what to do with your stones when your done. I give mine a wash with some clean water and washing up liquid, and then I leave them to dry. In the case of the 8000 grit whetstone I rub that against the face of the coarse diamond stone just to flatten it off a little. I leave that one to dry out as well and will rehydrate it before the next use.

Thanks again for watching and you’ll catch me in the next one.

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