Magnets to Hold Chisels or to Keep Chisel Box Closed?

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Forum topic by BustedClock posted 01-15-2014 01:44 AM 2707 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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128 posts in 2546 days

01-15-2014 01:44 AM

Topic tags/keywords: magnet magnetism sharpening chisel

While demonstrating the use of a CNC router and associated software, one of the instructors at school routed out a chisel tray for me. There’s one shaped and sized slot for each of my seven Narex chisels, plus one extra that fits my Stanley 1/8”. We discussed me building a box to hold the chisels, and I mentioned using rare-earth magnets to hold the chisels, or magnets to keep the box closed.

The instructor surprised me by saying that, while he wasn’t 100% sure, he didn’t think that was a good idea. According to him, the magnets would end up magnetizing the chisels, and magnetized chisels don’t sharpen well. I vaguely remember from a middle school science class that rubbing ferrous metals with a magnet will induce magnetism in the metal. But, how would residual magnetism prevent sharpening?

Has anybody else heard of this? If it’s true, can anybody explain why?


-- Hey, I'm usually right twice a day! Except where they use 24 hour clocks.

16 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


4758 posts in 2375 days

#1 posted 01-15-2014 01:47 AM

The swarf will cling to the edge.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BustedClock's profile


128 posts in 2546 days

#2 posted 01-15-2014 01:55 AM

Oh, oh! I know! A moving magnetic field in a conducting medium—I’ll shock myself to death…

Hmm, swarf… I’m using water stones, and certainly see the black swarf, but wouldn’t water, grit, etc. just move that to the side of the blade?

Well, at least somebody else has heard of this.

-- Hey, I'm usually right twice a day! Except where they use 24 hour clocks.

View CFrye's profile (online now)


10231 posts in 1863 days

#3 posted 01-15-2014 02:28 AM

I was told this may be a problem when I posted a magnetized chisel holder. Click for details
I was also told that a demagnetizer was easy to find. My chisels are becoming magnetized and I do need to find a demagnetizer. I, thankfully, have yet to ‘shock myself to death’. :-D

-- God bless, Candy

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4758 posts in 2375 days

#4 posted 01-15-2014 02:51 AM

If the chisel has been magnetized then then the swarf will also be magnetized because of the iron particles in it and they will jump on to the chisel and perhaps prevent full contact w/ the abrasive.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 2428 days

#5 posted 01-15-2014 03:37 AM

Agree with Bondo. Your chisels will attract swarf and any stray ferrous bits and cause problems with sharpening. Had that experience with some kitchen knives. Demagnifiers were pretty common in the days of recording tape for bulk erasing

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2310 days

#6 posted 01-15-2014 08:10 AM

I use rare earth magnets in my chisel rack, and I’m not losing any sleep over it.

-- John, BC, Canada

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2272 days

#7 posted 01-15-2014 02:22 PM

Use magnets, but demagnetize before sharpening. It’s not a big deal. Those little Magnetize/Demagnetize blocks can be found at most big box stores/Sears for a few bucks.


View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15368 posts in 2642 days

#8 posted 01-15-2014 03:23 PM

New word of the day: Swarf. No end to what I learn on LJs…

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

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Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#9 posted 01-15-2014 03:33 PM

Hey Smitty! Guess ya know what frass is too? :)


View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2130 days

#10 posted 01-15-2014 04:08 PM

I just mounted my narex chisels on a mag bar a month or two ago. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I was magnetizing them, much less that this would interfere with sharpening by causing the swarf to cling to the chisels. I learn something new everyday here. Thanks for posting the topic.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View CFrye's profile (online now)


10231 posts in 1863 days

#11 posted 01-15-2014 05:17 PM

Bill, I did not know what frass was. If I understand Wikipedia
correctly there is a lot of frass in this persimmon piece.


-- God bless, Candy

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2804 days

#12 posted 01-15-2014 11:47 PM

Excretia ?

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

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5811 posts in 2316 days

#13 posted 01-15-2014 11:57 PM

Good thing I still have that electric demagnifier from the days of Video tape.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Ross's profile


142 posts in 1996 days

#14 posted 01-16-2014 01:23 AM

I have never used a magnetic strip for chisels or for that matter any other tool. Never felt the need. Always figured after spending hard earned money on a good set of chisels then taking the time to flatten and polish the backs, regrind and hone the edges from 25 to 30 degrees why chance hanging them on a $10.00 magnetic strip. I built a designated chisel holder for my chisels as well as designated shelves for my planes. My bench chisels are stored in the built in bench pocket of the work bench making them easy to reach.

-- "Man Plans and God Laughs"

View Robert Tutsky's profile

Robert Tutsky

58 posts in 2073 days

#15 posted 01-16-2014 01:26 AM

While I use rare earth magnets in my woodworking, I don’t use them to hold tools. I’d rather fashion some kind of wooden “jig” to hold or store tools. It just seems more organic to me when I put a too back in it’s place.

Magnetized tools can come in handing, like holding a screw to the tip of a screwdriver. I purposely magnetize my drivers just for that purpose.


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