Sharpen Your Chisel in 8 Easy Steps - a Toolstop Guide

In this short and easy to follow article we show you how to sharpen a woodworking chisel.

honing guide for sharpening chiselsTo sharpen your chisel we recommend using a honing guide, such as is included in this wood chisel kit.

In the kit you'll find:

  • 3x chisels (12mm, 18mm, & 25mm)
  • oil
  • sharpening stone
  • honing guide

For most of us chisels are great wee tools to have. They cover all aspects of on-the-job-site tasks (even for DIYers!) that other tools can't handle.

You know, opening tins of paint or knocking that errant piece of wood out of hinge slot we've just routed.
how to sharpen chisels
Don't assume the chisel you've just taken out of the box, brand-spanking-new, is properly sharp and ready to use. It likely isn't (see below), so you'll need to know how to add a properly sharpened bevel to the blade.

With some help from the indefatigable Mat Burke from Stanley Tools, we'll show you how it's done in our "How To..." video on Toolstop TV.

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So here's how to make sure your chisels are up to scratch.

Step 1

sharpen chisels using a honing guide

Use the honing guide.

This nifty little device is going to allow you to see the correct angle of bevel for the chisel. At the end of the day, some of you will be able to sharpen the chisel, achieving the correct angle of bevel, by eye.

For the rest of us, the honing guide will be indefensible in achieving a chisel with the optimum cutting angle.

As mentioned above, a chisel fresh out of the box will have a cutting angle of around 25, however we want our chisels to be beveled to 30.

Step 2

sharpening a chisel using a honing guide

Parallel and Straight

When inserting your chisel into the honing guide, don't over-tighten the fixing screws as you need to make sure the end of the blade is exactly straight and parallel to the guide.

The guide has clear markings to show the the degree you'll be sharpening the bevel at, in this case 30.

So, line up the end of the chisel with the 30 marker on the guide nice and parallel, tighten up the screws so that the chisel is firmly gripped and then fold away the marker guide.

Step 3

Use oil on your sharpening stone.

It's important that when you start using the sharpening stone you do 2 things:

  1. make sure the stone won't move while you're sharpening
  2. use oil

In our video guide to sharpening a chisel (see below) we secured the stone in a vice.

Step 4

use heavy grit when sharpening a chisel
Use the heavy grit side of the sharpening stone first.

Step 5

using an oil stone to sharpen a chisel

Steady and Consistent

With the chisel in the honing guide, and with some oil on your sharpening stone, start to firmly and steadily move the chisel across the entire length of the stone.

As you grind the chisel, make sure you keep the rollers on the underside of the honing guide in contact with the stone to ensure an true bevel of 30.

Step 6

Clean & Crisp

When you're happy that you've ground the chisel to the required angle, turn over the grinding stone to the fine grit and repeat the process; add some oil, firmly and consistently move the chisel across the surface of the stone.

Doing so adds a lovely clean and crisp edge to the chisel blade.

Step 7

removing the burr when sharpening a chisel

Once you're confident that you've sharpened your chisel to the desired angle, remove it from the honing guide and use a piece of scrap wood to remove any burrs.

Step 8

backing off a chisel blade

Backing Off

In this process we're going to make sure the underside of our chisel is nice and flat which will enhance the sharpness of our blade.

Apply a little more oil to the fine grit side of your stone, then apply the flat underside of your chisel to the stone, gently moving it across the surface in a smooth circular motion.

As above, use a scrap piece of wood to remove any burrs.

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And if you've got any question about tools, whether hand tools or power tools, be sure to use the Comments section below, or get in touch via our website, Facebook Page or Twitter.


Chris Owens on Sat, 29 Jun 2013 11:55:59 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

The good thing about the Stanley honing guide is that it's got a way to set the angle without needing a protractor. You can buy the sharpening kit (guide, stone, oil) separately from the chisels, but it doesn't come with a case (don't want a fragile and oily stone rattling round in the bottom of the toolbox).

Anyway, I bought a kit, and managed to get my chisels pretty sharp even though I've never sharpened anything except a pencil before. (They're more than sharp enough for cutting mortises, etc., which is what I need them for.) It really is about as simple as the video makes it look.

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