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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello - as a newbie to woodworking I am overwhelmed by all the articles on how to sharpen my chisels. Are there any sites on the internet or books that show how to sharpen in a basic way? Eventually, I will learn how but for now it's confusing. Thanks for any suggestions, Steve
 

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Have you seen/read about the Scary Sharp method using sandpaper? That is about as simple and cheap as it gets.
A good flat surface, some sandpaper and a roller guide and you can get them razor sharp with a small learning curve.

I used if for a long time but moved on to a machine, but it really works.
 

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There are several different techniques for sharpening wood working edges. They all accomplish the same result.
In essence then, you have to pick one method, focus on it, and learn to do it.

The concept is to preserve the total included bevel angle. They do vary with good reason, from one sort of tool to another. I've been wood carving for 20+ years. Typical mallet and gouges starting point.
Among my tools are maybe 6(?) different bevel angles.
You can see a bunch of my tools and carvings in the Wood Carving Forum here.

I was taught free-hand sharpening on water stones, diamond plates and so forth. I decided that I was going to learn to be really good at it. Such as honing an expensive knife over my knee. I changed to the adzes and crooked knives used by First Nations here in the Pacific Northwest about 10 years ago. That includes making a lot of my own tools.

That meant a total switch to rolled sandpapers and card strops with honing compound.
The principles are always the same.
Very much simplified "Scary Sharp" with out all the dogma about glue and so on. 2000 grit paper gives a nice edge.
 

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I like sharp tools, freehand sharpening chisels takes a lot of experience. I do use the Veritas device, depending on your use of chisels you really only to get it sharp once then you only have do touch it ups. I have some that are only used with hand pressure I pay more attention to them, cheaper ones I slam with a mallet. I have done the sandpaper method but finally opted for the DMT plates 300-4000 grits diamond plates, I made a jig for the plates and it suits my needs
 

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Yes, it can be overwhelming, especially when you watch guys demonstrating it making it look so easy. What sharpening equipment do you have?

Off the top of my head, I can't think of anyone specific to refer you to, but videos are going to be the best medium. I Google sharpening a chisel and of the 3 videos that came up personally I would watch Matt Cremona. WADR and I love him, I have some disagreements with Paul Sellers on sharpening.

Just as a qualifier, I've been doing it for 25 years or so and I use my hand planes and chisels on a daily basis. I've tried just about all the methods during that time, sandpaper was my least favorite and I abandoned it very quickly. But, it does work, and for some people, its the best economical option. That said, if you're sharpening a lot, the cost of sandpaper has to be considered.

I use a combination of diamond and water stones. I sharpen freehand, but I started out using an Eclipse type jig. Since I sharpen freehand, I hollow grind all my bevels and go straight to a secondary bevel when honing.

Let us know what stuff you have and we can help you more specifically.

Just keep in mind this is one of those "I do it my way" type things in ww'ing, so there are plenty of opinons
 

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Depending on what I need to sharpen I use different methods. I use a Work Sharp WS3000 for my bench chisels. I use to them by hand until a friend gifted me his WS3000. Would I spend the money for it? No, but since I got it for free I do find it very useful.

For my planes I do that with a sharpening stone, jig, and sandpaper.

For my lathe tools I use the Rikon Pro Sharpening system. I have it set up next to my lathe.

My carving chisels I do all by hand on a wetstone and sandpaper
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to all who responded. I think I need to go with the method that fits me best. I spent 30 years on a pottery wheel and need to develop a new hobby. So far I have an Arkansas stone, a smooth & rough 1 piece whetstone & lots of desire to learn.

Thanks & Happy Thanksgiving.
 

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I hope we hear back from @steve sola. What I would like to know is steve's budget for sharpening. Can he afford diamond stones or japanese wetstones and something like the Veritas guide, or is he starting out with a flat surface, an assortment of sandpapers, and a $15 honing guide.

Here is my take on basic sharpening for typical woodworking chisels:
  • Flatten the back. Repeat for finer grits until you are satisfied.
  • Mount the chisel in a honing guide and set it to match the bevel. (Some people are good at freehand, but many people use a honing guide.)
  • Hone the bevel. Repeat for finer grits until you are satisfied.
  • Remove the burrs (optional: polish with care) and finish up.
If you are on a budget, a scrap of granite kitchen counter material works great as a flat surface - such as a cutoff piece from a kitchen remodel. I went to a local granite yard, asked politely, and they gave me a perfectly-sized piece from their scrap pile. You use it with sandpaper and a honing guide.

If you have a budget for sharpening tools, then consider diamond stones, which are flat and durable. There are many brands. The higher the price, you get arguably better diamond crystals and they have a better binding to the steel surface.

I like and recommend the Veritas honing guide. It is a quality tool. I got by with a basic honing guide for a while; the Veritas is much better. There are other brands of "premium" honing guides - shop around.

How to make a cheap honing guide better by tuning it up:
https://www.popularwoodworking.com/woodworking-blogs/tune-up-a-cheap-honing-guide/
Veritas Honing Guide that I recommend:
http://www.veritastools.com/Products/Page.aspx?p=144

I am not a great sharpener, yet. Of all the lessons I have learned, this one is the most important:
-> Be wary of lifting your chisel while flattening the back or honing the bevel! !!!
If you lift the chisel even in the slightest, so that it is touching the sandpaper or stone more at the cutting edge, then you will grind down that edge ever so slightly.

-> To fix the issue, so you can flatten that back or hone that bevel, you must now grind down a lot of metal behind the edge to bring it to the same level as the "new" edge you just created. Yuck!!


That's a lot of work and takes a lot of patience. It seems to go quickly at first, but then that final step to eliminate the thin strip at the edge takes forever. FOREVER. After a while, you are tempted to try a finer grit anyway (it won't work!), lift up to grind the edge even though were warned not to do that, kick the cat, yell at babies, etc.

One last thing:
Everything discussed above is for sharpening "flat tools" such as the typical bench chisels for woodworking and hand plane blades. There are other solutions.

Other Sharpening Systems:

Woodturners and woodcarvers use curved gouges, dual-bevel chisels, scrapers, and other cutting tools. They generally buy a grinding wheel sharpening system. There are multiple types and options.

-> Those grinding wheel systems can also sharpen flat tools like chisels and hand plane blades. They leave a slightly different "hollow grind" (slightly curved) bevel. People can argue about whether hollow is better or worse than flat grind. I say they are different, but it doesn't matter, especially to a beginner.

If you are thinking about getting into woodturning or woodcarving and are considering a grinding wheel system, then be aware that they can sharpen the "flat tools" too.
 

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Thanks to all who responded. I think I need to go with the method that fits me best. I spent 30 years on a pottery wheel and need to develop a new hobby. So far I have an Arkansas stone, a smooth & rough 1 piece whetstone & lots of desire to learn.

Thanks & Happy Thanksgiving.
I think you should look into a better kit. Not saying Arkansas stones don’t work, and lots of people used them, but you see them mainly for carving gouges, not chisels and plane irons. I can’t remember what the grit comparison is I think an Arkansas black or surgical is comparable to about 4000 water stone. 8000 is the minimal stopping point for chisels. I usually take plane irons to 16K.

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Cost is a major consideration. Yiu can easily have $3-500 tied up in diamond/water stone kit.

You have to decide for yourself the factors are how much use your tools get. It you want an efficient method that gets you sharp quickly.

This site is a good source of information, as well as Norton. I’ve bought Arkansas stones from them for my carving tools and they are excellent.

My advice to anyone starting out is buy the best edge tools and stones you can afford, and build on that when you’ve got youre feet wet.
 

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That site you linked IS a great source:

Thanks, Dr.
 
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