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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been working on my chisel sharpening lately as I need to finish up mortises on my breadboard ends. I like to keep things simple. And while I've got a flat thick piece of glass and various fine grits of wet dry SP, I've started to realize I much prefer using my whetstone and a honing guide. My honing guide is the same basic design that's readily available and a lot of people use. My stone is double sided, 400 and 1000. First, I started with ensuring the back was flat. It was close, but after some quick work on the stone, the back was good. So then I started with the actual edge/bevel. Based on research, I've been going with a 30 degree edge. Once it's set at the right length in the jig, I put it to the stone, and go back and forth trying to keep even pressure across the chisel. But I've started to notice it's not completely even:

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I'm assuming that's just use error and I'm putting more pressure on the other side? I try and even it out when I notice this, but it doesn't seem like this is too big of a deal, right?

Also, once I go back and forth 10, 15, maybe 20 times, I check the back to see when I get the little edge on folding back over the back side of the chisel (I can't for the life of my remember the word for this). Once I have this, I flip the chisel over with the flat back side down on the stone, and go side to side a few times to remove that burr on the back. Then flip it back over and repeat the process.

Is this the right way? Am I doing anything wrong or should I do anything differently? If I am doing it correctly, how many times do I need to hone until I get a burr, remove the burr, and hone again? Hopefully that all makes sense. Thanks!
 

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Yes, that is the result of uneven pressure. You also want to check how the chisel is registered in the jig b/c that can be an issue with the Eclipse type jigs, if your chisel has a thick side bevel, you can file out the recess to it registers better.

Excellent you're looking for a burr before moving up. That is a common error. What is the primary bevel? It looks awful steep.

What kind of stones? If you're using water stones, be sure to flatten them frequently.

Some may disagree, but 1000 is not high enough. I recommend at least to 4000, preferably 8000 (I go to 8000 on chisels, 16000 on plane irons).

Normally you hone a secondary or tertiary bevel as the final bevel, but essentially you are already doing a secondary bevel, so you need to do a tertiary bevel. Increase angle 2-3° on the final grit. Backward strokes only. You'll see a big improvement in the level of sharpness.

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Check to see if the edge is perpendicular to the side of the chisel. If not then the cause could be pressure or chisel not perpendicular to honing guide. If it is perpendicular then the chisel could be twisted. You don't say much about the back, did it flatten consistently or did you have to work one side more than the other?

I definitely agree with the Dr., and would go to at least 3000-4000 range.

Here are some pictures of a twisted plane iron I recently encountered.
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When I first started using the hone guide, I noticed uneven bevel. Probably due to the $12 cost. I unclamped and clamped it and it had the same bevel, at least it's consistent. Now all my chisels have the same taper. 🤷‍♂️
Imo... Unless you are hanging the chisels out for show and tell. No need to go over 400 grit, my finest is 360 grit. 120, 240 and 360 is it in my shop, no OCD here 😂
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, that is the result of uneven pressure. You also want to check how the chisel is registered in the jig b/c that can be an issue with the Eclipse type jigs, if your chisel has a thick side bevel, you can file out the recess to it registers better.

Excellent you're looking for a burr before moving up. That is a common error. What is the primary bevel? It looks awful steep.

What kind of stones? If you're using water stones, be sure to flatten them frequently.

Some may disagree, but 1000 is not high enough. I recommend at least to 4000, preferably 8000 (I go to 8000 on chisels, 16000 on plane irons).

Normally you hone a secondary or tertiary bevel as the final bevel, but essentially you are already doing a secondary bevel, so you need to do a tertiary bevel. Increase angle 2-3° on the final grit. Backward strokes only. You'll see a big improvement in the level of sharpness.

View attachment 441299
Thanks, Doc. I am using a water stone.

Also, I can go higher grit, I've got numerous higher grits in paper that I can slap on the flat glass piece and use that.

Not sure on the primary bevel but I think 25? The chart that came with my guide says to protrude the chisel 30mm for 30 degrees, and 21mm for 35 degrees. So should I sort of split the difference and protrude it 25mm?

Finally, for this chisel, which I assume is a mortise chisel based on the pictures on the paperwork with the guide, it says to put the chisel all the way down in the honing guide, resting directly on that silver bar, i.e., it's not supposed to rest in those grooves that you labeled to file deeper. If that doesn't make sense, I can send a picture of the paperwork.
 

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When I was in trade school we had a belt sanding sharpener, with probably 12 in drum in the front. It turned relatively slow so there was no overheating and had a fine grit (can't remember what grit). first we squared the edge then used whatever guide we needed to sharpen. It produced a very slight concave surface. When we saw a thin sliver of metal across the cutting edge we stopped. Then moving to the oil stone put the concave side to the stone and after several light passes you would see that sliver laying on the stone almost sparkling, it was done except for the test, to see if it would shave some hair off your wrist or forearm..
 

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I can do far better than that by eye with my belt sander with a 320 grit belt on it!
That jig was meant primarily for plane blades which are thinner and fit down inside the "V" grooves, not that thick of a chisel which is held a bit cockeyed.
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My 6" X 48" belt "sander" has become my "go to grinder" for all sorts of sharpening operations from mower blades to plane bottoms and irons that need to be flattened and sharpened, to refreshing the edge on cold chisels, to putting a new edge on my axes and splitting mauls. Changing grits is a one minute operation, unlike a bench grinder which requires 2 wrenches and a shelf full of different wheels. I have one, but rarely use it any longer. The tool rest on the grinder is a 6" X 10" table and is adjustable from 90 degrees to 75 degrees. This allows me to get a nice square sharp edge on plane blades and they don't get overheated with all the surface area on the belt. I still keep a water dip can close by however.
 

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Thanks, Doc. I am using a water stone.

Also, I can go higher grit, I've got numerous higher grits in paper that I can slap on the flat glass piece and use that.

Not sure on the primary bevel but I think 25? The chart that came with my guide says to protrude the chisel 30mm for 30 degrees, and 21mm for 35 degrees. So should I sort of split the difference and protrude it 25mm?

Finally, for this chisel, which I assume is a mortise chisel based on the pictures on the paperwork with the guide, it says to put the chisel all the way down in the honing guide, resting directly on that silver bar, i.e., it's not supposed to rest in those grooves that you labeled to file deeper. If that doesn't make sense, I can send a picture of the paperwork.
Yeah, post a pic of that, b/c that’s not correct?

I woukd go 30° primary, 27-28° secondary will suffice for most woods. It’s really easy to set up a jig, or even just a mark on the benchtop. When re-honing go straight to the secondary bevel. It will eventually elongate to the point you may want to do a tertiary bevel, but the angle will be increasing & eventually you’ll need to re-hone a primary and start over.

I‘ve had 2 or 3 Eclipse type jigs, some OK, some pretty awful. But on all of them, you have to tighten pretty hard with a screw driver, and be careful the lands of the chisel are well engaged in the grooves.

Keeping the bevel even is an issue. I check it every 10-15 strokes, adjust finger pressure as needed. Not really easy to do on narrow chisels. But, if the bevel is slightly skewed it’s no big deal, the chisel will still perform. I mostly freehand sharpen, and use a skewed angle of attack, so it’s not an issue.

Many chisels with higher side bevel heights or lands will not engage the groove very well. Lie Nielsen has a video on modifying the jig. .Lie Nielsen video
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yeah, post a pic of that, b/c that’s not correct?

I woukd go 30° primary, 27-28° secondary will suffice for most woods. It’s really easy to set up a jig, or even just a mark on the benchtop. When re-honing go straight to the secondary bevel. It will eventually elongate to the point you may want to do a tertiary bevel, but the angle will be increasing & eventually you’ll need to re-hone a primary and start over.

I‘ve had 2 or 3 Eclipse type jigs, some OK, some pretty awful. But on all of them, you have to tighten pretty hard with a screw driver, and be careful the lands of the chisel are well engaged in the grooves.

Keeping the bevel even is an issue. I check it every 10-15 strokes, adjust finger pressure as needed. Not really easy to do on narrow chisels. But, if the bevel is slightly skewed it’s no big deal, the chisel will still perform. I mostly freehand sharpen, and use a skewed angle of attack, so it’s not an issue.

Many chisels with higher side bevel heights or lands will not engage the groove very well. Lie Nielsen has a video on modifying the jig. .Lie Nielsen video
See the middle one for mortise chisel. Also, if I need to get a new/different honing guide, I'm fine with that too. But last night I did pull out the glass plate and the 1800 and 8000 grit papers (don't have any in between those two, but will get some).

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If the jig has "provisions" for sharpening thick chisels like you were attempting, then you need to revisit how it's done.
I've never used mine in that manner, but I have sharpened plane blades where it does just fine.
Use a black sharpie on the blade to determine where the sharpening is taking effect. Adjust the chisel's position to suit that info.
 

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See the middle one for mortise chisel. Also, if I need to get a new/different honing guide, I'm fine with that too. But last night I did pull out the glass plate and the 1800 and 8000 grit papers (don't have any in between those two, but will get some).

View attachment 441322
Yeah, except that's not a mortise chisel...... ;)

I wouldn't trust the measurements. Better to measure the actual angle with the chisel set in the jig, then record that by making a mark. If you're doing plane irons or multiple angles, an angle setting jig is very handy, or it can be as simple as a mark on your benchtop referenced off the edge.

Like I said, the angle is not super critical. Primary 25-30°, secondary 2-3° steeper. Mine is set for 30 & 27.5 Truthfully, I mostly sharpen freehand, when I use the jig, I just move the chisel back "skoosh" to increase the angle. A good secondary bevel is only about 1/16 - 1/8". I also hollow grind, which allows me to go directly to the final bevel. Whichever method, the whole idea is to speed up the honing process.

Check out that video, it will make a huge difference in the jig.
 

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it says to put the chisel all the way down in the honing guide, resting directly on that silver bar,
That’s for chisels that are tapered over the full length. Your chisel is constant thickness. The edges are beveled kinda like the cutting edge, but front to back the chisel is the same thickness. Either eay, it’s critical to get the blade square to the guide.
 

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Is the cutting edge perfectly square? No, but it may not be as bad as the taper would indicate.
The cutting edge (the intersection of the back face to the secondary bevel) looks to be almost square.

The intersection between the primary bevel and the secondary bevel is way out of square. Not sure if that is a concern. Isn't the only concern the squareness of the cutting edge? The primary bevel does not reach the cutting edge.
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Other than noting it for next time... if it's sharp, then you did a good job. I have a few chisels that were cheap and they were not ground well. When I grind them, the new bevel comes in at an angle to the old one.

Another observation is that 30 degrees is a pretty high angle for a general purpose chisel. I usually try for around 25 degrees.
 

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For consistency, make a jig for your jig 😂
25° rough, 30° finish grind. One side for chisels, the other for planes
It beats trying to measure while tightening the screw
I grabbed this off the net, all my chisels have the same grind


 

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Other than noting it for next time... if it's sharp, then you did a good job.
Yes! Have you checked the back for flat on those chisels?

An angle doesn’t mean much unless you specify it’s the final bevel. For argument’s sake, it’s secondary, in which case 25-27.5 is a good number, which means the primary is around 30. Anything less than 25 in hardwood the edge won’t hold up as well.

It’s just a matter of what works for you. Most important is find a system - master it, and don’t change it . 90% I’m doing freehand I don’t get too hung up on it. I also hollow grind so I don’t really have a primary bevel, per se.

If you’re doing a 2° bevel (and you should), after repeated honings it will get longer. If you took it to the extreme you would create another 1° bevel. so often a tertiary bevel is done, but each time the angle increases. At at some point with every chisel the 1° bevel will need to be re-established. It’s much easier if you hollow grind ans go straight to the 2° bevel.

I will say this - you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear. A cheap chisel is cheap b/c the steel is poor quality and the ergonomics is often bad. You can get a carpenters chisel sharp, but it will only get you so far.

If I’ve confused anyone I apologize.
 
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