How to Sharpen a Chisel


        Are you someone who does woodwork? A chisel is one of the excellent tools you can’t avoid to have. Not only a chisel but a sharpened chisel is very important. When you buy a new one, it is not always ready for use.


        At the point of production, chisels are ground to a beveled edge which is most times 25 to 35 degree. It means you will be the one to put the final finishing on the edge for a more effective job.

        This article will show you how to sharpen a chisel. Of course, there are various ways you can sharpen your chisel. Some people sharpen it using: a jig, hand, diamond stones, water stones, oil stones and some uses a strop at the end. 

        Let’s take a quick look at the necessary materials needed:

  • Sandpaper – to ensure the stone doesn’t slide away
  • Sharpening Stones (water stones) – 800, 1200, and 4000 grit stone
  • Nagura Stone – 8000 grit stone
  • Honing guide – to keep the chisel blade at the perfect angle for sharpening

       Following are the various steps involved


1. Prepare Your Chisel For Sharpening

        This first step is basically for someone who already has a chisel but with damaged or uneven bevels. You would need to reshape your old chisel before sharpening. You can reshape it using a grinding wheel.

       Hold the damaged or uneven chisel bevel flat on the grinding wheel to eliminate dirt, rust or large gouges. Once you have done this, the chisel is ready for sharpening.

2. Find A Sharpening Stone

        Like I said before, there are different ways you can sharpen your chisel. One of them is the use of sharpening stones. To achieve the sharpest edge, you will need a stone with three levels – fine medium and coarse. Use stone with 800, 1200, and 4000 grit.

Image: Sharpening Stone

        You can get a sharpening stone of your choice at hardware stores, garden centers, and home.Any sharpening stone you pick will come with a lubricant. But sometimes you might need to purchase a recommended lubricant.

        There are two types of stones that are effective – the water stone which uses water as a lubricant and the oil stone which uses petroleum-based oil as a lubricant. 

3. Prepare The Sharpening Stone

        If you choose to use, water stones put them in water and let them stay there for some time. It may be between 6 minutes to 10 minutes. In fact, there are some who store their stone with water but some kick against it.

        On the other hand, if you want to use oil stones, ensure you lubricate them with the proper type of petroleum oil.

4. Set the chisel for honing

        In this step, you will need to set your honing guide. Put your chisel into the honing guide but make sure the bevel is facing down. Ensure the honing guide hold the chisel well by tightening it. But you have to be careful here. You might eventually need to adjust the chisel so you should leave it loose enough.

        The whole bevel of the chisel should touch the stone, but the most important part is the front. You need to worry less about getting it micron-level accurate. Just ensure the bevel is settling flat against the stone and lock the chisel in place by tightening the honing guide screw. 

5. Take Your Stone Out Of Water

        Carry out this step as soon as you are done setting the chisel for honing. Put the 800 grit stone where it won’t be sliding around. You can put it on sandpaper. But ensure the sandpaper is secured to your workbench. Now you can set your chisel while in the honing guide on the stone.

        With your thumbs on the jig, apply pressure on the back of the chisel blade. Make sure the pressure is even and pass the chisel forward and backward for about six to seven times. When doing this, try to distribute the passes across the stone so that you don’t have a groove on the stone.

        After those passes, clean the blade using a cloth. You will be able to see the part of the blade that is touching the stone and the part that is not. If you need some part that is not touching the stone to contact the stone you can adjust the honing guide.

Image: Make your chisel alway comtact the stone.

        Just ensure the blade of the chisel is contacting the stone at the first 1/8 inch, it is very important, even though the more, the better. Once you have cleaned the blade and inspected your progress for about three to four times, you can now move to the next level.

        At the next level you would make use of the 1200 grit stone and repeat the same process and after that make use of the 4000 grit stone too. After making some passes, you will notice the blade of the chisel will start to shine.

6. Make Use of The Nagura Stone

        This offers 8000 grit sharpening and produces the slurry needed to sharpen the chisel. You should have submerged the nagura stone in water along with other stones. This time you should pass the chisel blade on the nagura stone in a circular manner. When doing this, you will see slurry starting to form.

        After passing for about four to five times, you should rinse and wipe clean to see your progress. You can keep repeating it till you are satisfied.

7. Add a Microbevel

        Now that your chisel has gone through the different level of sharpening stone, you should have a sharp and shining chisel blade ready for action. But there is one more thing you need to do to have a perfect and effective chisel. You need to add a micro bevel.

        Yes, you already have a beveled edge, but you need a small bevel at the end of it. To put a micro bevel on the blade, put the put the honing guide with the chisel attached to the slurry nagura stone. Raise the chisel to handle a little bit and push forward to the other side of the stone. 

       Ensure you do this with a nice steady stroke. Repeat this process many times but ensure you raise the handle of the chisel by a little angle. You need to be careful here. Do not draw the chisel back each time you push forward. Pick it up and place it on the near side then repeat the step. The job is well done when you see a thin line on the end of the blade of your chisel.

8. Flatten The Back Of The Chisel Blade

        Due to the sharpening process, your chisel has gone through there will be a little burr at the back of the chisel blade. You need to get rid of this burr by flattening the back of the blade. To do this, you need to lay the back of the blade on an 8000 grit stone and make several passes.

Image: Flatten The Back Of The Chisel Blade

        Ensure the blade lie totally flat on the stone. The more the back of the blade you have on the stone the easier it is for you to keep the chisel flat. After making several passes, you can move to a 4000 grit stone. Repeat the same process. Wipe clean to see your progress, and after you have the back flattened, you have achieved your aim.

        There you have the various steps on how to sharpen a chisel. Now that you know these steps, you can boldly buy a new chisel or bring your old chisel back to life. 

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Jessica Grace

Hey there! I am Jessica Grace - Main editor of I'm a writer about home improvement, kitchen, and bathroom, and hope to share with everybody. I have a passion for exploring and listening to music during my free time. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found what you were looking for!

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