Sharpening chisels and what-not
Think I’ll ever succeed in teaching myself how to sharpen a chisel?
No one ever taught me. . . I scraped away for a while, yesterday, trying to imitate proper technique, and made it somewhat less dull.
Edited 5/14/2008 10:19 pm ET by Biff_Loman
i tought myself, and i'm sure you can teach yourself look on the web for vids/instructions
there's no need to reinvent the wrench
recent article--can't remember JLC or FHB but one guy's method.
Squares if off first with a belt sander, then redoes the bevel with it.
Then diamond and lastly stropping compound.
I've ground a hollow in my (cheap) chisels--hold the bevel to the grinding wheel to create the hollow. Then it's a lot easier to put an edge back on it as you don't have to surface the whole bevel. I have a flat, diamond stone with two grits, and a sharpening guide with wheel that holds things straight.
The answer is in the stone, weedhopper.
I think it took me several months as an apprentice to fully come to grips with what to do. I use sandpaper on glass for the flats,, water stones for the bevel side,, have a low rpm grinder,, which now has a felt wheel on one side. might lose the felt wheel,, but boy does it make stuff shiny with compound!
Hang in there,, a sharp chisel is a beauty to behold. I've bought my first Barr timberframing chisel,, and it was good for two weeks of work before it's first sharpen. It holds an edge like no tomorrow , but was expensive.
These are excellent:http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&p=32991&cat=1,43072,43091&ap=1http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&p=32979&cat=1,43072,43091&ap=1Scott.Always remember those first immortal words that Adam said to Eve, “You’d better stand back, I don’t know how big this thing’s going to get.”
Google 'scary sharp'
Cheap chisels or expensive ones? I use the same as Waters for cheap ones. Last year I saw Jed Dixon at the JLC show take a roofers chisel- you can guess what it looked like- and with a belt sander, diamond file & stroping compound shave the hair on his arm in under 3 minutes. I wouldn't use it on my good ones, but I use it on my blue plastic handled ones.
It's not that hard.
Keep the back flat and keep a consistent angle. The shape of the cutting edge is the key. I can use 80 grit on a belt sander, and if the shape is right it will be pretty functional for general carpentry.
To get it shaving sharp, there are many different tools you can use. I use waterstones for polishing. Sandpaper (the higher grits used for polishing), diamond stones, oil stones, etc. all work.
I'm usually using my chisels on rough carpentry and not fine work, so I need them sharp, but not enough to shave with, and I need the chisel sharp now, so I often use my belt sander. A flat or even convex edge lasts longer than a hollow ground--more steel behind to support the edge. Since I'm not using it for say, paring a tenon on something, it gets dull pretty fast, so touch up with the belt sander is quick. For fine work I use sandpaper on a flat piece of granite I got. The finest grit I use is the black, wet paper.
As larryscabnuts suggested, try Scary Sharp method. Inexpensive and excellent results. A little patience and you'll soon have razor-sharp chisels.
I second scary sharp.. the trick to making it work is holding the chisel or whatever at the correct angle. That's so easy to do once you make a wooden wedge. With a compound miter saw slice off a 30degree wedge or whatever angle you want about the width of the widest chisel you have to sharpen hold the chisel at that angle and scary sharp will do the work for you.
I spent $500 on Tormex sharpening system and find that now all I use that system for is intial cut. Once I have things square I uses the scary sharp method and it is awesome just how sharp things get so quickly..
I've been toying with getting a Tormek for some years now, but it always seems I need something more important at the time for that kind of money.
Right now I use a regular 6" grinder where I have to keep dipping the blade into water to cool it, but the biggest thing for me is getting the damned blade square. I know with the Tormek it's a no brainer not only to get it perfectly square but to get the initial bevel cut right, and it also doesn't burn the steel.
The honing and flattening I can do in my sleep whether it's with scary, diamond past, diamond stones, or water stones, all of which I have.
I'm looking for speed and accuracy on the initial cut, and it seems to me that the Tormek would give me that, but at quite a cost.Recently in one of the Taunton's mags they had an article about chisel sharpening with a slow speed grinder, as it doesn't burn the steel so easily, and I'm toying with getting one of those for a fraction of the cost of a Tormek. That doesn't quite solve the squaring up thing. I did watch the video of Garret Hack marking off the back of his chisel with a square and a sharpie and grinding to it.I get all my tools atom splitting sharp, I just want to go a little faster.What says you?
I bought a Tormex but Grizzly has a clone of the Tormex for a fraction of what I paid for the German machine. ($169.00) As satisfied as I am with My Grizzly purchases if given the chance to do it all over I wouldn't hesitate to buy the Grizzly Clone!
I too used to use a high speed grinder and cooling it but the Tormex makes it so easy and fast to do that I'd never go back to using the high speed one.
I don't go nuts on chisels. I'm doing field work, and I know I'll hit a nail about 5 minutes after I sharpen it, so I get it sharp enough but nothing special.
I have a two-sided diamond stone and a roller-style holder for the chisels. Just clamp the chisel in at the right angle and grind away on the diamond stone until you see that all the nicks are gone. Flip to the fine side of the stone, make a another pass, a quick de-burr pass on the back side laid flat on the stone, and boom, you are ready for the next nail...
Check out the How to Hone a Chisel video over on knots:
The way I was taught: First, grind it using as big of a wheel as possible. The cut into the steel should be about 2 times the thickness.
This will produce a hollow ground blade. The grind should make the piece perfectly square. Take care to keep the blade cool. Once you start taking the tip off, it's really easy to harden it which makes it brittle.
When you are done with the hollow ground (go slow...keep it cool), then take it to the stone. Lay it so the two points on the hollow are touching the stone. Now, lift the back edge up slightly and begin a circular motion. Use the course side of the stone.
After honing it a bit, flip it over and lay the back of the blade perfectly flat and hone it in a circular motion. This will peel the slag off.
Repeat the process on the finer side of the stone.
After honing, repeat the process on your leather strop.
Light oil will help on all phases but too much oil slows down the process.
You should be able to shave with any blade done like this.
Bob's next test date: 12/10/07
Tormek, you'll never go back. I sharpened 3 last night that had been used to chip concrete and maybe rebar. Took me maybe 5 minutes per to put a polished razor edge on each one.
Once you've used your tormex to put that edge on it take a couple of extra minutes to put a scary sharp edge on it.. you will be amazed at how fast and easy to do it is and how much better it cuts...
I mean my Tormex is nice but finishing it with the scary sharp method is so fast and so wonderful you will be in awe!
What is the scary sharp method? Bob's next test date: 12/10/07
Jim,Scary sharp is just a fancy name for sandpaper and glass as a substitute for stones...- KitTechnique is proof of your seriousness. - Wallace Stevens
What is the scary sharp method?
It's been covered by almost all the woodworking mag's, don't know if you can access old articles or not, probably have to pay for it. I would guess someone could scan it and e-mail it to you.
The scary sharp method is simply using sandpaper, I get mine up to 2000 which is pretty fine, to do the honing. I've known guys that don't go that fine and still get sharp chisels. You stick the sandpaper down on to plate glass (has to be pretty thick and dead flat) or a piece of marble or granite that has been flattened and hone away. I don't explain stuff very well but if you can get an old copy of one of the articles on the subject it's pretty simple to follow.
Hell even and old framer can do it!
Others described the system pretty well, basically you start with a piece of glass as big a a sheet of wet or dry sand paper. and "glue" the sheet down with oil. I start out with 320 and go up to 4000 grit.. I use every single grit not skipping one because it goes much faster that way. I keep my sandpaper and glass in a plastic baggy that way it's still clean and ready to use. Using engine oil to "glue" the sheet down makes it hold fast while sharpening and peel off easily. You can use those roller guides or simply cut a wooden block at the right angle.. don't free hand it!
I've got it down to where a pass or two on each sheet and I move to the next sheet. You can look at the edge in a brite light to confirm that you have achieved complete "polishing" at that grit before you move on.
It's so sharp when you are finished it's scary!
This works extremely well. All those mortice and tenions in my home (somewhere north of 500) were carved with a simple set of Stanley chisels. All I did was protect the edge with a simple wooden block I built to hold the set of chisels.. Banging them around in a tool box would have dulled them if I hadn't. Sometimes the chisels wouldn't need resharpening for a year or more and when I did it took me less than 5 minutes to do.
Thanks Frenchy. It sounds like something I could try if I ever find one of my chisels. Bob's next test date: 12/10/07
You can look at the edge in a brite light to confirm that you have achieved complete "polishing" at that grit before you move on.
Frenchy, I think you hit on an important part, one that a lot of people leave out, POLISH, that's when you know that you truly have a real sharp chisel. I never use a belt sander to sharpen chisels, not saying that you shouldn't but it leaves to coarse an edge and takes forever to get back that polish. Without that polish all you have is a serrated edge! Great if you're cutting a tough steak but not so good for parring a tennon.
The back side of ones chisel is just as important as the front/leading edge, you should be able to see yourself in it.
Once you have the scary sharp method worked out ( and it does work ), for a final 'holy cow' edge......hone on a bit of aluminium box section with kerosene for lube.
The final polished edge will split atoms.
What's "aluminum box section?"
How to explain............I use a rectangular length for a straight edge. It would be about 2 inches by 1 inch. The wall thickness is about 1/4 inch.
The thing is a rectangle in section if looked at end on.
The trick with it is....aluminium oxide is harder than most things. The bit of scrap you might want to use is covered in it. Plus being a rectangle it has a nice flat surface and doesnt want to bend.
OR......get some polished marble chunks. I got mine from a headstone maker. Put some kerosene on that and give the chisel the final hone.
Sharp doesnt describe it.People talk about insanity like its a bad thing........
I just use a granite block and auto-body wet&dry paper and one of those rolling chisel holder thingies.
Most times I can shave my arm, but I'm no Sphere.
HA! Too funny, I was just showing the DW my latest accomplishment..I found a 3+" Arm hair,,, an I said, you can tell I ain't been sharpening any chisels or planes lately.
Then I read that..LMAO. Laughin hers off too, that takes some doin.
She always gives me schiest for having arm stubble when I am into serious sharpening mode.Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks
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