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How to Sharpen Wood Chisels

Posted by Fraser | Toolstop on 6th Feb 2024

Keep your chisels sharp with our 8 stage step-by-step guide. See the fantastic range of Woodworking Chisels availabe at Toolstop. In this short and easy to follow article we show you how to sharpen a woodworking chisel.

How to sharpen wood chisels

How to Sharpen Chisels

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

Here's what you're going to need...

First things first, you're going to need the right tools for the job. We recommend using a honing guide like the Stanley 0-16-050 or XTrade X0900044 Chisel Set with Sharpening Stone.

What are Chisels Used For?

For most of us, chisels are a handy wee tool to have lying around. They're useful for a wide variety of tasks, whether you're a professional carpentar or a DIY'er looking for something handy to open a paint cant with!

How Sharp are Wood 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.

Let's face it, we'd all rather watch the video first, then do the reading...

With some help from the indefatigable Mat Burke from Stanley Tools, check out how it's done in the latest installment from Toolstop TV.

The Eight Steps of Chisel Sharpening

Step 1: Set Your Honing Guide to 30°

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 25º, however, we want our chisels to be bevelled to 30º.

Step 2: Keep the Chisel 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 degree you’ll be sharpening the bevel at, in this case, 30º.

So, line up the end of the chisel with the 30º 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: Apply Oil to 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 above, we secured the stone in a vice.

Step 4: Use Heavy Grit Side First

Use the heavy grit side of the sharpening stone first.

Step 5: Move The Chisel Across the Length of the Stone

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 a true bevel of 30º.

Step 6: Use Fine Grit and Repeat

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: Remove the Burr

De-Burr. 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: Back Off the Chisel Blade

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.

And there you have it. Watch the video, follow our step-by-step guide and get your chisels working better for you. Check out the full range of Chisels and Chisel products available at Toolstop below.

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