Chisels are indispensable in your woodworking toolkit, whether you’ve scored some vintage gems or just unwrapped a shiny new set. As a newbie or seasoned woodworker, you might wonder, “Do my chisels need sharpening?”
Here’s the scoop: Even a brand-new chisel isn’t ready right out of the box. It may be somewhat sharp, but to achieve professional cuts, you’ll need to sharpen it and probably add a secondary bevel.
Factory-produced chisels are sharp to an extent but lack the fine edge needed for precision work. That’s why it’s your job to bring them to life.
If you were eager to dive into your woodworking project, hold your horses! It’s time to learn how to sharpen your new chisels to perfection.
Why Sharpen New Chisels?
Industrial chisel production doesn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to the tool’s cutting edge. That’s why it falls on you to sharpen the blade correctly.
The standard angle is typically 25 degrees, making your job a bit easier. (Vintage tools might be a different story, but let’s focus on new chisels for now.)
To get your chisel in tip-top shape, you’ll need to:
- Sharpen by hand or use a grinder
- Flatten the blade’s back
- Square and hone the bevel
- Add a honing bevel
- Finish the job
Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut. It requires patience, but the results are worth it. Once you nail the process, maintaining the edge becomes a breeze.
The initial effort ensures your chisel glides through wood effortlessly, saving you time and money on constant re-sharpening.
Sharpening Methods – Hand vs. Grinder
When it comes to sharpening chisels, you have two main options: the traditional hand sharpening or using a grinding wheel. The choice boils down to personal preference and comfort.
Be mindful of overheating the metal with a grinding wheel, as it can weaken your chisel. Let’s explore both methods.
Hand Sharpening with Stones
Hand sharpening is a detailed, multi-step process that yields excellently sharpened tools. This method is cost-effective, though time-consuming. To get started, you’ll need:
- A sharpening stone or sandpaper on glass
- Multiple grits of sandpaper: 400, 1000, 4000, 8000
- A leather strop and honing compound
Start with your stone or sandpaper, then flatten the back, work through the grits, and finally add a secondary bevel. The steps are straightforward but require patience.
Sharpening with a Grinding Wheel
Using a grinding wheel is quick but can heat your chisel. Prevent overheating by cooling the chisel in water. For this method, you’ll need:
- A bench grinder and grinding wheel
- A sharpening stone
- A star-wheel dresser
- Lubricating oil
- Wet/Dry sandpaper and plate glass
Don’t forget your safety gear! The process is similar to hand sharpening but starts with the grinding wheel.
How Long to Sharpen Chisels?
Expect to spend about an hour per chisel, especially if you’re new to this. But remember, patience in woodworking is key.
Investing time in sharpening saves you from costly professional services. With practice, sharpening becomes faster and easier.
As woodworkers, it’s our duty to sharpen new chisels for optimal performance. Whether you opt for manual labor or power tools, choose what feels right to avoid damaging your chisel.
Hopefully, this guide helps you find the sharpening method that suits you. Whether it’s manual sharpening or using a grinding wheel, the effort will be well worth it!
Quick Reference Table
|Factory sharpness isn’t enough for precision work
|Hand Sharpening, Grinding Wheel
|Hand Sharpening Tools
|Sharpening stone, various grit sandpaper, leather strop
|Grinding Wheel Tools
|Grinder, grinding wheel, stone, star-wheel dresser, oil, sandpaper
|~1 hour per chisel