Chisel Sharpening Instructions Chisel Sharpening Instructions

Chisel sharpening requires a couple of tools, but it can be done in just a few minutes. Keeping a chisel sharp and honed is important if it is to function properly and last a long time.

Depending on what tools you have available to you, there are two ways to sharpen a chisel: with the aid of a bench grinder or entirely by hand. Because not everyone has a bench grinder in their shop, this article will address both methods.

Sharpening with a Bench Grinder

For this method, you will need:

  • Gloves
  • Safety Glasses
  • Light Machine Oil
  • Fine Grit Sharpening Stone
  • Chisel
  • Bench Grinder

Step 1: Inspect the Chisel

Check the chisel’s beveled edge for nicks and burrs. This will help you determine what needs to be sharpened.

Step 2: Grind Off Burrs and Nicks

Using the bench grinder, hold the beveled edge up and the chisel flat and grind off the burrs and nicks. Make sure the chisel stays square against the grinder and move it from side to side.

Step 3: Grind Beveled Side

Flip the chisel over and hold it so the angle of the bevel is upright against the grinder. Move it in the same manner, side to side, grinding off burrs and nicks on the beveled side.

Step 4: Finish with Sharpening Stone

Apply some oil to the stone, and with the beveled side down, pull the chisel towards you, running the bevel across the oiled stone. Lift up gently at the end of each stroke. Run it a couple of times across the stone with the bevel up. Check the chisel afterwards, making sure all burrs and nicks are gone.

Sharpening a Chisel by Hand

For hand-sharpening, you will need:

  • Chisel
  • Honing Jig (optional)
  • Combination Sharpening Stones (800/4000 grit and 1200/8000 grit)
  • Nagura Stone

Step 1: Prepare the Stones

Set the two combination stones and the Nagura stone in water for about 10 minutes. They are called combination stones because they have, for instance, 800 grit on one side and 4000 grit on the other.

Step 2: Position the Honing Jig

A honing jig is a device that allows you to secure the chisel in place for sharpening. Position the chisel so the beveled edge is entirely touching the stone.

Step 3: Move Through the Honing

Start with the 800 grit side and make sure it is secure on the workbench. Pass the chisel over the stone, pulling it towards you several times. You want a nice, even pass. Move up to 1200, then the 4000 grit.

Step 4: Use the Nagura Stone

This stone produces a watery texture for the 8000 grit pass. Take the Nagura stone out of the water and rub the 8000 grit side over it in a circular motion, creating a small amount of liquid. Pass the chisel over the 8000 grit stone in the same way as the others.

An additional step, you can put a microbevel on the chisel. That is essentially a small bevel at the tip of the beveled edge, but it is not necessary. Now your chisel is sharpened. Whenever nicks and burrs appear at the edge, repeat these steps–either by hand or with a machine–and your chisels will always stay sharp.

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