Sharpening up some carving chisels

Double Bevel Chisels sharpened

I needed a break from a four year old who was testing his limits a little, and went down to the shop to sharpen some chisels.  Now, I know that SOUNDS like a bad idea, and it probably was.

I’ve been wanting to modify the profile of these old chisels I picked up a while back to be more like the flat carving chisels I have in use already.  I picked them up in the early phase of my tool acquisition period, which means I bought a bunch of stuff whenever I found it not always buying something I might need or want.  These were picked up in a bundle, hoping to be paring chisels but look a bit more like carving chisels because of the way the tang enters the handle.

Regardless, I have good chisels now, and these needed to find a new life.  They worked OK with a single bevel when I needed to outline a carved design or something, but I thought they could use a good sharpening and the one small flat carving chisel I have was a double bevel.

First I set the angle by eye on the tool rest on my grinder, and added the bevel roughly to what I wanted with a  slow speed white wheel I use for sharpening my turning tools.

Then I pulled out the oil stones and put them through the grits free hand.

I started with the Coarse India from Norton, and worked the roughness off the grinder and adjusted the bevel slightly.

Next I used the Medium to refine the edge a little.

A few swipes on the Translucent Arkansas and I was nearly done.

Final step was a few strokes on some leather charged with “green stuff” for a final mirror polish.

I make it sound simple, but this sharpening regimen took me years to figure out, and purchase.  I’m really happy with what I can do in a fairly short amount of time with these stones, and I don’t have to bother with water stones.  I know most everyone else loves them to death, but I find the mess abhorrent personally.  Everyone should find a system they like and stick with it, that’s what I’ve heard and that’s what I also recommend.

In the end I was able to slice paper with these edges, and the cut wood very nicely when used in a “stab cut” to set in an outline.  All in all I’m happy.  (And I was able to burn off the mood the willful child had caused, without cutting myself.  Working in my shop relaxes me so, I need to do it more.)

— Badger


  1. George Molloy April 16, 2012

    Just out of interest, how long do you spend on each chisel using your method?

  2. Badger April 16, 2012

    Not a lot of time, no more than 20-30 quick strokes checking every 10 or so?

    I wasn’t counting so much as checking the reflection in the lamp I have nearby. I was looking for an even consistent pattern of scratches over the important surfaces.

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