Hand Tools Odyssey #2: Razor Sharp

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Blog entry by gizmodyne posted 09-26-2009 07:40 AM 3869 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: What is Sharp? Part 2 of Hand Tools Odyssey series Part 3: Sharpen this! (Card scraper) »

Last time I showed the process for lapping the faces of the chisels. Here is the back of the 1/4” chisel.

In the next phase of chisel sharpening we learned to hone the bevels. In order to more easily hone the chisel by hand we ground a double bevel.

For the purpose of the class we used a Tormek Super Grinder, however the same can be accomplished with a bench grinder and more care to not burn your steel.

Here is a chisel that has been hollow ground…

Hollow ground chisels provide two surfaces for you to rest the chisel upon, which makes it easier to maintain the chisels on the stone.

One interesting aside on the use of mechanical sharpeners: in order to square the tip of the chisel to its edge, you may have to shim the back of the chisel. I don’t have a clear picture of this, but it involves slipping a piece of paper or tape in between the back of the chisel and the honing guide on the long side of the chisel. This helps to roll the chisel and create an even and square edge. It is a finesse thing.

Here is my 1/4” chisel before hollow grinding and covered in paste wax.

After grinding on the wet grinder. Notice the hollow area.

Starting at 1000 grit on t the waterstone, we honed by setting the heel of the bevel and then “clicking” down the tip. Then pushing the chisel backwards. This is the biggest tip I can offer as learned in the class: Think of the move as pushing the chisel instead of pulling it.

We hone just long enough to create the bevel. Due to the hollow grind, you can see flat areas at the tip and heel of the bevel.

Honing on 4000 is to remove the 1000 stones marks. It is critical to flatten the stones often.

Moving up to 8000 grit erases the 4000 marks and moves towards polishing the bevel.

I also removed the wire edge / burr on the back by gently lapping the other side (face) on the 8000. For some chisels you have to chase the wire edge back and forth from the face to the back. But working gently seems to remove it without pushing it back over.

Finally I polished the chisel on a leather strop with honing compound.

Here is the finished chisel. it is razor sharp and easily cuts hair.


Next time: Card Scapers.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

8 comments so far

View Berg's profile


116 posts in 3213 days

#1 posted 09-26-2009 11:24 AM

Enjoying your posts. Thanks for sharing.

-- Pete - "To every thing there is a season Turn! Turn! turn!" [Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger]

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 3413 days

#2 posted 09-26-2009 01:16 PM

Well done!

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3845 days

#3 posted 09-26-2009 01:43 PM

Giz, thanks for the post. This is certainly an interesting tutorial.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4122 days

#4 posted 09-26-2009 03:46 PM

Great tutorial on sharpening.

A few days ago I went through and tuned up all of my chisels. The back of both my wrists have been shaved clean.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3696 days

#5 posted 09-26-2009 04:24 PM

Now that is sharp!

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3258 days

#6 posted 09-26-2009 08:45 PM

I just ordered a 1000/6000 stone, though I would have liked to get the full Norton beginner set (promised the wife I’d only spend $50 a paycheck on tools…). I plan to use some 240+ grit sand paper for the flattening of the backs, though I do see HF has some cheap diamond pads I may try out. I made the mistake of trying to use a Dremel to sharpen a couple, and I really really screwed up one (it’s about as sharp as my thumb…), so I may need to get a bench grinder to fix that one if the sand paper/diamond pads don’t work out. Really, they’re cheapo Lowes chisels, so I’m not too worried about it.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4006 days

#7 posted 09-27-2009 07:59 AM

scary sharp ! fun quick read … perfect photo blog

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 3245 days

#8 posted 09-27-2009 03:47 PM

Another nice post. Thanks!!

-- James -

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