Cleaning a new chisel for honing

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Forum topic by TLE posted 12-21-2011 01:58 AM 6616 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TLE's profile


25 posts in 3645 days

12-21-2011 01:58 AM

Topic tags/keywords: chisel

I’ve seen postings that recommend this or that to remove the varnish-like coating often applied to new chisels today. I’ve got a couple of new Irwin chisels and the coating on these is, shall we say, mighty resistant to being removed. I’ve tried laquer thinner, denatured alcohol, and acetone. The acetone worked the best of these but it is a slow process, let me tell you. I called Irwin and they suggested paint remover. Imagine! Slopping things up with paint remover just to hone a brand new chisel! What genius came up with this rust prevention answer?

Can anyone give me a reasonably expedient working solution? Please tell me about any techniques as well.

Thanks very much.


9 replies so far

View JSilverman's profile


89 posts in 2810 days

#1 posted 12-21-2011 02:40 AM

why not just flatten the back and hone the bevel on waterstones (or oil stones)?... any thin coating would surely just be abraded away in the areas you are focused on and remain in places you are not. That might also impart some rust protection to those unused areas.

I will add that none of my chisels came with a coating on them (Marples, Lie Neilsen or Ashley Isles) so I am not speaking from any personal experience.

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3148 days

#2 posted 12-21-2011 04:22 AM

That sounds like some nasty gunk, probably not a good idea to put it on a stone, it would get into the tiny pores and slow down sharpening. I would try either brake cleaner or carburetor cleaner. There is very little that can stand up to these two solvents (I have seen them take stuff off that acetone wouldn’t touch). If those don’t work, try using a heat gun or torch and heat it up, that should loosen it up enough to get most of it off, then follow up with solvents.

-- Mike

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 2658 days

#3 posted 12-25-2011 06:53 PM

Time and patience removing the lacquer, if those chisels rusted, the pits and damage would take forever to get out…. There is a reason they slop that stuff on there…. And it was to make you removal easier!!!!

That being said, I would suggest a few things, Tim:

1. Buy a book on sharpening… I bought the complete guide to sharpening, and reading through that book provided clarity on many methods, but also some of the science behind metals, how they behave, and the proper way to treat you chisels and planes….

2. I would start simple- buy a Veritas 2 honing guide…. Some will say buy a cheap one, but as a beginner this guide is very stable, easy to control and has a referencing guide so you get the bevel and honing PERFECT. Then get a piece of slab granite or soapstone, and some various grits of sandpaper ( the book will detail this). You can flatten on the slab as well as create bevels…. In addition you can buy water stones…. I use 1,000, 4,000 and 8,000 with my honing guide and my tools are deadly sharp…. But the waterstones are expensive, and you can get similar results with paper…

3. Practice- also, carve out time in your shop, after it is cleaned up and orderly, and enjoy unfettered time to get acquitted with the sharpening process…. I like to maintain my chisels and planes with dedicated time, not trying to hone on the fly.. Sure there will be times to hone an edge here and there… But dedicated time to me represents the importance sharp hand tools play in a perfect project… It is respect time, even if that sounds weird… But then again. Woodworkers are a squirrelly bunch, and you know that if you browse the forums…

Good luck with the goop… It will be wroth it when your chisels under almost no pressure slice paper like air!!!!!

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2558 days

#4 posted 12-25-2011 07:23 PM

Methylene Chloride (MEC)

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2684 days

#5 posted 12-25-2011 09:54 PM

Brake fluid possibly? I’ve seen it remove Imron automotive finish before, it might work for thsi.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Brad-Scott's profile


11 posts in 2102 days

#6 posted 12-19-2013 11:34 PM

See: “Paul” not sure if it’s in his blog or videos.
He runs thru prep for inexpensive chisels for his masters classes.
His is a quiet shop; hand tools, planes, dovetails, templates etc.
Mine is reasonably quiet but not to his extent.I go hybrid for milling stock and staying on task.

-- Brad~Scott

View Ray's profile


126 posts in 2200 days

#7 posted 12-20-2013 01:19 AM

I think paint remover may permanently stain the blade.

-- Creating less fire wood every day

View fitzhugh's profile


14 posts in 2956 days

#8 posted 01-22-2015 11:43 PM

On Narex mortise chisels I found it came off easily with fine steel wool and “Clean Strip brand Industrial Maintenance Coating Thinner – what the local Ace HW store now sells instead of Naptha.

Side note: I strongly suggest avoiding Oderless Mineral Spirits. It isn’t oderless, it leaves a nasty greasy coating instead of evaporating away, and it never seems to do anything to anything beyond the aformentioned smell and slime.

I know this is an old thread but, like many things, others may come here like I did looking for a solution.

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1028 posts in 1771 days

#9 posted 01-26-2015 03:49 AM

I’d just worry about getting it off the bevel area let the rest act as a rust shield.use the scary sharp method on it ans that should clean off all the gunk and throw away the sandpaper afterwards.

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