Chisel Sharpening Services
One of the pages of this website states “I have the time and take the time to do it right.” That is true but it is not the whole story. I am somewhat of what people nowadays call “self-sufficient,” or maybe even a “prepper,” but my intent goes deeper than that. I just feel that everyone should be as self-sufficient as possible and waste neither their time or money.
Skilled Use of Handtools Including Chisels
I think often of my grandfather that moved from Lucedale, Mississippi during WWII to get a job at Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, Alabama. He was a carpenter and helped build many of the buildings at Brookley Army Air Field, later renamed to Brookley Air Force Base. After the war he went to work for the Mobile County Housing Board and helped build many houses in the Birdville Community. He used hand tools and developed the skills necessary to maintain and use them. To honor him I like to try and duplicate his skills.
How To Sharpen A Chisel With A Grinder
Don’t! Don’t take me wrong. Electric tools, jigs and guides do have their place. I do use jigs for holding tools when I grind them and for really rough honing I may use a grinder. But when push comes to shove, or there is no electricity, I can still get the job done.
A hundred years ago and more, people made hand tools work. They had no choice: they didn’t have power tools and I often find it terribly difficult to duplicate some of their work. I’m still working to duplicate many of the old-timey skills.
Chisel Sharpening Geometry
Now about chisel sharpening. The cross section of the cutting edge of a chisel looks like the apex of a long triangle. Although the meeting of the back of the chisel and the cutting edge ground bevel, at the end of a 25 deg taper, looks like a triangle, it does not taper to infinity. The edge is of finite thickness – just a few microns across. If the edge is thick enough to reflect even a hint of light, it is dull for woodworking purposes. If there is no glint reflected from the edge, then it is sharp.
Chisel Sharpening Technique
The technique for holding and moving the chisel on a stone.
Most sharpening lessons deal with the technology and sharpening sequence and leave this part out. But free holding a tool consistently and easily is the key to sharpening easily and well. It’s not that difficult at all.
Chisel Sharpening Jigs
There are a tremendous number of products on the market designed to hold a blade at a consistent angle to a honing stone. However, almost all of them share two important flaws:
- The jigs allow you to repeat a motion but always in the same part of the stone. For waterstones this means the stones will wear in certain spots faster and require more maintenance.
- The second problem with honing guides is more subtle: The first time you sharpen you establish some sort of bevel. The second time you sharpen you need to maintain the same exact bevel; The important word here is “exact”; If it’s not exact, you tend to create a secondary and then tertiary bevel at each attempt at sharpening. This makes for much more work. Even if you can get really, really close to getting the same bevel, setting a tool in a jig exactly is tedious and very hard to get perfect. And it takes time. You’ll find it a great pleasure to be able to just take a tool and immediately put it onto a stone without having to worry about setting up a jig.