How do you sharpen your chisels? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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How do you sharpen your chisels?

Do you maintain the original beveled front or do you hollow grind them?

I just watched a good YouTube video on flattening the backs of brand new chisels and then hollow grinding the beveled edge using various stones and oil, and a grinder. He then shaved across end grain of white pine wood and was able to roll up a very fine shaving with little to no tearout, and leave a smooth surface on the end grain. I want my chisels this sharp but I don't own a grinder. Can it be done with just a beveled edge only (not hollowed)?
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 11:52 AM
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From my wood carving experience, I think so. My tools are 20 degree bevels = plain bevel and plain back.
At present I have a lot of end-grain carving to do to finish projects. While it's a lot of work, frequent honing keeps the "carving sharp" edge that I need. My carving knives are all at 12 degrees total included bevel. Very shallow cuts & shavings but they do leave a nearly glassy surface.
In soft woods, the ring count is really important. Anything less than 20 rings/inch shows too much difference between early wood and late wood. The early wood just crushes. Junk carving wood.
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post #3 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 12:01 PM
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A lot depends on what kind of wood you intend to use the chisels on. I was taught to hollow grind the chisels and hone them with natural stones with water to a extra fine stone and then strop the chisels on a piece of leather with jewelrys ruge. If using the chisels on a very hard wood like oak I flat grind the chisels to a much shorter angle and hone them the same way.
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post #4 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 08:02 PM
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You will get many opinions on how to sharpen and many arguments possibly too.

It is a highly controversial subject that each participant often believes that their way is the only way. To me, it is not the technique you use but the end result. To me, the number one requirement is to try and see in person what sharp really is and do not rely on a passing tradesman to tell you.

Sometimes, they have no idea themselves. Once you know where you want to head to then it is a matter of practise, practice and more practice. You will not get them razor sharp at first but they will be sharper and you will get better.

From my experience, most cheap chisels from the store come with too blunt an angle. Try to buy a cheap plastic protractor. Woodcraft and other stores have them and they are about $6 US. The one I am thinking of is yellow in color and made by General Industries.

I suspect most hardware and box stores have them as well. It is $6 well spent because you will use it for other things as well.

Then try to get some old cheap beaten upchisels from garage sales, etc and practice on them. You will surprise yourself how you can turn them into real users.

You might need an angle grinder for the really banged up ones but as a start I would google Scarry Sharp because that where a lot of us unprofessionals started and we moved on from their.

Every now and again , I go back to it and I think it is important to be proficient in a few methods. Be warned though, once you get into it you may want to move on to other more expensive methods that I will let others tell you about.

But for a beginner, you have to start somewhere and I think Scarry Sharp is a good starting point.

However the yellow General Industries protractor is the key to find your starting angle and then your finishing angle. You are looking for repeatability and consistency.

Pete
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post #5 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 08:27 PM
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I agree with Pete 100% about opening a can of worms when asking for sharpening methods. We all have our ways. And he's right about buying old irons and practicing on those and then you need to practice and practice. I just wasn't good at it so I bought into one of those very expensive systems that sharpens everything except circular blades. I know it's very expensive, but how bad do you want scary sharp?

When I was working, I stopped spending $ on coffee breaks and brown bagged my lunches. I was a truck driver so bag lunches meant sandwiches and salads, but I saved my $ ($7 per day), learned to be patient, ate healthier, and bought a Tormek T7. With the jigs etc., I spent some serious cash but now my chisels are sharp, my turning skews are sharp, carving knives, kitchen knives, and much more. I sharpen things for family friends and neighbors. A lot of folks that have invested in the Tormek are now earning good cash as professional sharpeners. I just wanted all my tools to be scary sharp and as expensive as my system was, I'm glad I own it. When you can curl the end grain off your chisel, you can do some serious wood working. I don't expect many pats on the back for my post - it's just the way I achieved scary sharp because I'm a dummy when it comes to sharpening.

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post #6 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 08:29 PM
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I don't. I just throw them away when they're dull and get new ones. Laughing!!!!!

When it's rustic......it's rustic
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post #7 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 08:58 PM
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While I have a grinder, I do not have very good luck sharpening chisels with it which means that I do not get those fancy back ground cutting edges. I use it to grind metals and sharpen drill bits. For my chisels I use varying grades of sand paper on a flat surface like my table saw. I start at 100 grit and end up at 1500 grit wet/dry auto body sand paper (the black stuff) which I lubricate with a spritz or two of water. This gets me to a nice mirror finish on both the flat back and the beveled face along with an edge sharp enough to shave the hairs on my arms. That is plenty sharp enough for my needs and I also get those nice curly shavings from the end grain of 2x4's with no tear out.

Your mileage may vary, and like Pete told you, everyone who has ever sharpened anything from a pencil to a razor has a different method that works best for them.

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post #8 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 09:11 PM
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i use paul sellers' method:


http://paulsellers.com/2012/01/sharp...-micro-bevels/

i ordered a strop, but the guy sent a sheath, so i can't do the last polishing part yet.

i work for 3m, so i am able to get a bunch of different sandpaper grits cheap. 180, 220, 400, 500, 600, 800 1000, and 1500. i scored a 100 pack of the 600 grit for $7.

i go up the ladder to 1500 and stop there.

i'm still learning which ones i can skip.

the last one i sharpened was a used chisel i just picked up and had to spend alot of time flattening the back. flattening the back is a one time thing. i started with the 180 then went to 320, 600, 1000, 1500 on the back.

for one that was already sharp, but has been used and needs re-sharpening, i think i will start with 600 since i have so many of them and then go to 1000 and 1500. i'm not even sure i need the polishing because they come out really sharp as it is.

but it should only take a few swipes at each to put the edge back on.
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post #9 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernieL View Post
and bought a Tormek T7. With the jigs etc., I spent some serious cash but now my chisels are sharp, my turning skews are sharp, carving knives, kitchen knives, and much more. I sharpen things for family friends and neighbors. A lot of folks that have invested in the Tormek are now earning good cash as professional sharpeners. I just wanted all my tools to be scary sharp and as expensive as my system was, I'm glad I own it. When you can curl the end grain off your chisel, you can do some serious wood working. I don't expect many pats on the back for my post - it's just the way I achieved scary sharp because I'm a dummy when it comes to sharpening.
Pat, Pat, good for you! I just got the same unit and learning the technique. I never imagined I could get knives, chisels and planes so dag gum sharp with so little effort.

"It don't take all kinds, there just are all kinds"
Granny Clampett

Last edited by MeasureTwice; 01-23-2013 at 09:53 PM.
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post #10 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Well, so far I suppose the scary sharp method is what I loosely have done without knowing it. I was able to remove knicked edges this way even though I read afterwards that I couldn't. I just used 220 paper. It was all I had at the time.
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post #11 of 18 Old 01-23-2013, 11:07 PM
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I hollow grind, hone on soft then hard oilstones.
I think people overthink the sharpening thing. Just sharpen the thing, it's not that hard to do. If it takes hair off your arm like a razor, it's sharp enough.
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post #12 of 18 Old 01-24-2013, 01:23 AM
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Piggybacking on this thread, but typically what is a general "rule" for sharpening angels on chisels? And general all around use planes as well? I saw a few recommended angles a while ago, but don't recall them or where they were listed at. Each would obviously have a much smaller secondary bevel that does the actual cutting.
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post #13 of 18 Old 01-24-2013, 01:29 AM
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typical nplane irons and chisels are about 30 degrees, plus or minus a couple.

low angle planes have angles in the 12-15 range (i think)

and the 2ndary bevel is actually a higher degree, not a lower degree. it is there to help strengthen the edge.

if you do a convex bevel, you actually get a stronger edge than a micro bevel, and it takes seconds to maintain it.

Last edited by Chris Curl; 01-24-2013 at 01:32 AM.
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post #14 of 18 Old 01-24-2013, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Curl View Post
i use paul sellers' method:

Paul Sellers - How to sharpen chisels with diamond stones - YouTube

http://paulsellers.com/2012/01/sharp...-micro-bevels/

i ordered a strop, but the guy sent a sheath, so i can't do the last polishing part yet.

i work for 3m, so i am able to get a bunch of different sandpaper grits cheap. 180, 220, 400, 500, 600, 800 1000, and 1500. i scored a 100 pack of the 600 grit for $7.

i go up the ladder to 1500 and stop there.

i'm still learning which ones i can skip.

the last one i sharpened was a used chisel i just picked up and had to spend alot of time flattening the back. flattening the back is a one time thing. i started with the 180 then went to 320, 600, 1000, 1500 on the back.

for one that was already sharp, but has been used and needs re-sharpening, i think i will start with 600 since i have so many of them and then go to 1000 and 1500. i'm not even sure i need the polishing because they come out really sharp as it is.

but it should only take a few swipes at each to put the edge back on.
All I use for a strop is a piece of leather about 2" wide I picked up from a leathercraft store. I wrapped in over a piece of 1x4 pine stapling it to the ends of the board. Then I treat the leather with jewelers rouge and use with water.
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post #15 of 18 Old 01-24-2013, 11:25 AM
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I have a variety of sharpening angles, sort of depends on what the edge is and what I expect it to do.
Bench chisels and plane blades = 30 degrees
Knot-buster chisels = 40 degrees (same as a bone cleaver)
Wood carving gouges, either single or double bevel (stop chisels) = 20 degrees (same for Porsche kitchen knives
All wood carving knives, both straight and crooked = 12 degrees.

Oil stones only for repairing severe damage.
Water stones for mild/minor damage and extreme wear.
Hard leather strop with chrome green honing compound (0.5 micron, nominal particle size).

I get consistent quality edges with predictable perfomance. Glassy tool marks in wood such as birch.
Rarely does a "carving sharp" edge last for more than 30 minutes. I took the easy way out and bought some duplicate carving tools so I can keep going until everything is hooped!
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post #16 of 18 Old 01-24-2013, 03:37 PM
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After reading this thread this morning, I looked up sharpening systems, and although the T7 is the cat's meow, I think the Work Sharp system looks pretty sharp (get yer free puns here!) for only $100, or the $200 version. Woodcraft gave it a pretty glowing review as did all of the people that have written personal reviews of it. I had sort of been looking into some sort of sharpening system because I can't get my chisels very sharp with my 600 grit 6" diamond stone, and I bought my wife a really expensive set of kitchen knives for Christmas that I would like to be able to maintain. This sytems has a belt attachment that can also do serrated knives.
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post #17 of 18 Old 01-24-2013, 05:17 PM
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Thank you, Pete for this gem of wisdom. It is so true.

"You will get many opinions on how to sharpen and many arguments possibly too. "

There was an old Johnny Carson joke about desert survival.

Paraphrasing

The woodworkers kit for surviving when lost in the desert contains all the materials needed for every tool sharpening process known to woodworkers, a loud speaker or PA system, a work bench and a soap box.

When lost in the desert (or outback) the woodworker sets up the work bench with the sharpening systems. The woodworker steps up onto the soap box to announce a demonstration of the correct way to sharpen a chisel.

Immediately 100 woodworkers appear:
37 woodworkers who have never sharpened anything appear to correct the process.
49 woodworkers appear to explain why the process is wrong and why their process is correct.
13 woodworkers appear to sell old tools.
1 woodworker appears to learn how to sharpen chisels.

After the brawl starts the one woodworker who was there to learn realizes that the discretion is the better part of valor and leaves. The original woodworker who was lost in the desert just follows this one woodworker to safety.

Yeah, stupid I know but not too far from reality.

The original Johnny Carson joke was with a bottle of Gin, a bottle of Vermouth and some olives with instructions on how to make the perfect Martini. (BTW - It's lemons and vodka!)

Use the right tool for the job.

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post #18 of 18 Old 01-24-2013, 09:40 PM
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What i neglected to mention in my post #15 is that I do it all by hand with consistent results, year after year. It can be done, no magic. The deal is to pick any system and get used to it. NO, you can't jump off the bench at a world class standard. I'm not there yet.

My Porches kitchen knives are approx $100 each. I do them on a King 4K water stone at 20 degrees, 10 degrees each side. Not about to upscrew.
a) Porsche says to do that.
b) that's a good angle for kitchen tools.
c) for the job, that is as sharp and as fine as they need to be.

Without knowing, and with my experience with wood carving, I suspect that any lapse of attention will create fillet-of-finger before you realize what you have done.
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