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Need Help Sharpening Chisels

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Forum topic by wmgworks posted 09-02-2016 03:35 PM 383 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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wmgworks

193 posts in 451 days


09-02-2016 03:35 PM

I went out and bought a cheapie chisel from a big box store so I could learn how to use and sharpen them. I’ve watched several videos on Youtube on how to sharpen them. I decided to try the sand paper method, so I got some 400, 800, 1200 and 1500 grit wet/dry paper, and stuck them to a piece of glass. I wet the paper with a soapy water mix, and went to work. I can tell the back is getting flat because I can see the hollow shrinking, and see the polish growing towards the front and back of the chisel. For the bevel, I’m just trying to hold it at the angle already established and drag it backwards lots of times, moving up the grits. When I try the “cut hairs on my hand” test it doesn’t do a thing. And it doesn’t really slice paper as easily as I’ve seen on the videos either. And it DEFINITELY doesn’t pair away pine like butter.

Can someone help me correct my technique or suggest a more fool proof, inexpensive way to get the chisel sharpened?

Thanks

-- Butchering wood since 2015


11 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13738 posts in 2084 days


#1 posted 09-02-2016 03:40 PM

Buy an eclipse jig to hold the chisel while sharpening. Freehand is hard; you’re likely (without trying, obviously) creating a rounded tip vs. a truly sharp one. They’re something like $8… Simple gray aluminum block with a wheel on the back.

If you’re not raising a burr before switching to a finer grit, the angle isn’t being held steady.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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jmartel

6575 posts in 1616 days


#2 posted 09-02-2016 03:42 PM

Make sure you can feel a burr on the edge before moving up to the next grip. Every time. If you don’t feel a burr, then that means that you aren’t sharpening the edge.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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JayT

4785 posts in 1677 days


#3 posted 09-02-2016 03:54 PM

+1 to both of the above, especially the jig. I free hand sharpen a lot, but still use a side clamping Eclipse style jig to reestablish bevels and get things square when they start to go out. Using one of those will ensure you are keeping a consistent angle and not rounding over your edge.

Making sure you get a burr on each grit just ensures you are spending enough time at each level. That is particularly important on the coarsest grit. If you are not getting a burr at 400 grit, try dropping to 220 to more quickly define the bevel. Once you get a chisel sharp and can recreate it several times, you’ll be able to make some small changes to speed up the process, such as going free-hand.

Also, 1500 wet/dry sandpaper may or may not be fine enough to get a really good edge. Sharpen to that level and finish off by stropping. A piece of leather or even MDF charged with some honing compound will provide that final little bit to get you shaving sharp.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View jumbojack's profile

jumbojack

1667 posts in 2090 days


#4 posted 09-02-2016 04:13 PM

Just dragging backward is not very efficient. Paul Sellers method works best for me. A little bit of practice and you will GET the method. Sandpaper in the long run is expensive. Diamond plates IMHO are the way to go. Further a strop with green or white compound will finish off your work.
Don’t forget to use plenty of liquid to carry away the swarf. When I first started sharpening (with sandpaper) I omitted the liquid and had poor results.
Wipe and check your edge often while sharpening. You CAN see your progress as you go up in grits. Don’t be afraid to start over with the coarse grit if you find the edge is not square or you are not getting the results desired.
Check Amazon for deals on a set of diamond stones, I think that is where I got mine. Three grits for under $50..
A simple belt glued to a board and some compound and you will obtain the results, with a little practice.
Don’t give up, it is way difficult to destroy a blade while you are learning. It really won’t take long. I find the wider chisels are easier than narrow ones. You are looking for a mirror finish on the bevel and back.
Good luck.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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TheFridge

5765 posts in 952 days


#5 posted 09-02-2016 04:29 PM

Drag backwards a couple times before going forward. It’ll help keep the paper from ripping.

Uses jig to begin with.

I use at least 2000 grit and then strop the bevel with green compound and the. strop the back a couple times to make sure the wire edge is gone.

If your chisel has a hollow back then all you need is to make sure it’s flat all along the edge.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Will Merrit's profile

Will Merrit

52 posts in 359 days


#6 posted 09-02-2016 05:27 PM

Hey man,

I have a TON of brand new 3M automotive sandpaper from 320 up to 4000 grit. When I say I have a lot I mean 2 whole big rubber-maid totes full. Give me your address and I will gladly send some to you, works great for sharpening. All of the sand paper is wet or dry too. Also, if you go to your local Marble counter top place they will give you a piece from their cutoffs, if not just check their dumpster. If any of you other commentators want some send your addy along to me as well.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#7 posted 09-02-2016 05:58 PM

jmartel +++++

If you don’t have the back flat all the way to the edge, you will never get it sharp jig or no jig. You are working on a cheap chisel that may be way out of flat there can be a little hollow behind the edge but the sides and edge have to be flat at a minimum.

Make sure you get that done first.

Never advance to the next grit till you get a burr.

I recommend learning to sharpen freehand right from the start.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View wmgworks's profile

wmgworks

193 posts in 451 days


#8 posted 09-02-2016 06:47 PM



Buy an eclipse jig to hold the chisel while sharpening. Freehand is hard; you re likely (without trying, obviously) creating a rounded tip vs. a truly sharp one. They re something like $8… Simple gray aluminum block with a wheel on the back.

- Smitty_Cabinetshop

I wanted to start out doing it freehand, but I’m thinking I may need to get the jig just so i can learn what a sharp chisel feels like


Make sure you can feel a burr on the edge before moving up to the next grip. Every time. If you don t feel a burr, then that means that you aren t sharpening the edge.

- jmartel

Thanks! That’s great advice


Just dragging backward is not very efficient. Paul Sellers method works best for me. A little bit of practice and you will GET the method. Sandpaper in the long run is expensive. Diamond plates IMHO are the way to go. Further a strop with green or white compound will finish off your work.

Paul’s is, of course, one of the better videos on the technique. I was following what he was doing for the most part. I didn’t have any leather to use as a strop though.

BTW – that belt idea is brilliant! I was wondering how I could get my hands on some leather and was contemplating cutting up some of the wife’s purses she doesn’t want anymore.


Hey man, I have a TON of brand new 3M automotive sandpaper from 320 up to 4000 grit. When I say I have a lot I mean 2 whole big rubber-maid totes full. Give me your address and I will gladly send some to you, works great for sharpening. All of the sand paper is wet or dry too. Also, if you go to your local Marble counter top place they will give you a piece from their cutoffs, if not just check their dumpster. If any of you other commentators want some send your addy along to me as well.

- Will Merrit

Thanks, Will! I’ll send you a PM


jmartel +++++

If you don t have the back flat all the way to the edge, you will never get it sharp jig or no jig. You are working on a cheap chisel that may be way out of flat there can be a little hollow behind the edge but the sides and edge have to be flat at a minimum.

Make sure you get that done first.

Never advance to the next grit till you get a burr.

I recommend learning to sharpen freehand right from the start.

- rwe2156

I want to do it freehand. The problem is I’ve never sharpened a chisel before. Nor have I ever USED a chisel really. I don’t know what “sharp” is. And I don’t have anyone around me to show me how to do it or what the results should look like, so Youtube and Lumberjocks are my learning tool.

Related to that, I don’t know what a burr looks or feels like. I know I’m supposed to have one when I sharpen, though. My eyesight is really bad, so I’ll probably have to rely on feel more than anything. Or get a really good magnifying glass :)

Thanks again, everyone. Great advice!

-- Butchering wood since 2015

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JayT

4785 posts in 1677 days


#9 posted 09-02-2016 08:47 PM

I don t know what a burr looks or feels like. I know I m supposed to have one when I sharpen, though. My eyesight is really bad, so I ll probably have to rely on feel more than anything.

- wmgworks

Even when your eyesight is good, you rely on feel. The burr is where a tiny part of the metal from the tip of the chisel curls back over the other side and is a sign you’ve sharpened right to the cutting edge. So if you are sharpening the bevel, run a fingernail on the back from just above the edge down to the edge. If there is a burr, the fingernail will catch just a bit. If the fingernail slides off the edge without catching, you don’t have a burr yet.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View wmgworks's profile

wmgworks

193 posts in 451 days


#10 posted 09-02-2016 09:06 PM


Even when your eyesight is good, you rely on feel. The burr is where a tiny part of the metal from the tip of the chisel curls back over the other side and is a sign you ve sharpened right to the cutting edge. So if you are sharpening the bevel, run a fingernail on the back from just above the edge down to the edge. If there is a burr, the fingernail will catch just a bit. If the fingernail slides off the edge without catching, you don t have a burr yet.

- JayT

Thanks, Jay. That makes perfect sense now.

-- Butchering wood since 2015

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7923 posts in 1846 days


#11 posted 09-03-2016 02:13 AM

80 grit to flatten, then progress through the grits.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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