Introduction: How to Sharpen a Chisel Quickly and Easily
This instructable is going to give you a quick and relaible way to put a sharp edge on your chisels.
You will need;
Norton India cobination stone size 8" x 2". This has a grey "coarse" side and an orangey brown "fine" side. This method works just as well on other mediums such as sandpaper, water stones and diamond stones.
Honing oil. Norton make their own product but I find baby oil is much cheaper and works really well.
I you don't fancy freehand honing buy a "side clamping" honing guide.
A piece of leather stuck to a block of wood.
Some metal polish like autosol.
A clean cloth.
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Step 1: The Set Up
A piece of melamine faced MDF makes a great way to locate your sharpening stone. The melamine facing makes it very easy to clean and the MDF stays nice and flat. If you don't have any, fear not, any scrap will do.
If you are able to cut two pieces of hardwood the same thickness as your stone do so. This must be done very accurately, if you don't feel able to do this just use some scrap or the like to locate the stone prevent it slipping around. The concept with these blocks is that they prevent you falling off the end of the stone while learing, ensuring full use of all the stone. The bigger piece nearest us allows the honing guide to use more of the stone.
Screw a batten to the underside to allow you to secure the sharpening station to the bench.
Many honing guides have information on them regarding how far the chisel needs to project to create a sharpening angle. The two white blocks nearst the camera are set to give a 30deg and a 25deg bevel. Having these blocks helps save time when setting.
Step 2: Work the Back
First off you will need to work will be the back. The first photo shows clearly the swirly marks from the factory grinding process that are present on most chisels.These need to be removed, especially behind the cutting edge to give good results. Some people like to flatten the whole of the back of the chisel and if you wish to do so please do however I normally don't. For general purpose work I simply hold the chisel back flat on the stone and work it over the whole stone as you will see in the video. Once the factory marks are removed behind the cutting edge work the back on the leather strop with some autosol. The second photo shows a chisel back ready for use. Note all the scratch marks behind the cutting edge are gone. There are however some marks still on the back, these will not effect the sharpness of your chisel.
Step 3: Honing the Edge
Now it's time to hone the edge. The normal chisel you would buy has a factory ground angle of about 25deg. This angle is too shallow for normal work. We need to hone an angle of about 30deg. We do not need to change the whole angle. As you will see from photo 1 we only need to apply the 30deg angle to the tip of the blade and create a small secondary bevel. Offer the 25 bevel to the stone heel first (not the cutting edge) and then lift by about 5deg. Hold the chisel steady and move if over the face of the stone. The video shows how to do this both free hand and with a honing guide. After a few light passes you will create a burr that can be felt on the back edge of the chisel we worked on in step two. Remove this bur by holding the back of the chisel flat on the stone and drawing it backward. This will then move the burr back to the other side. Very lightly and briefly hone once more, flip the chisel over and and pull back ward for the last time.
Now move to the strop, apply some more autosol if required and work the small 30deg honed bevel then turn it over and pull the chisel back. You should now have a small 30deg polished bevel as shown in the second photo which is ready for work.
Step 4: Test the Edge
Caution! You have created a sharp edge. When using a chisel ensure your hands are always BEHIND the cutting edge and that you are pushing AWAY from your hands.
Secure a piece of wood and try to pare end grain. If you can pare nicely like the photo you are done, if you can't, hone again.
Step 5: Maintaing the Edge
Once your edge is good, use it until it becomes dull. When it does go to step 3 and repeat. You can do this until the edge looks like the photo on this step. It has become thick. In the video I set the honing guide to 25deg and use the honing guide to redo the 25deg factory bevel using the grey coarse side of the stone. Do this until the edge is very fine again like the photo at the end of step 3. Now hone the edge and you are good to go again.
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