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Noting is worse than a blunt chisel on your wood-work. Don’t just start hitting your chisel harder and harder with your mallet, this puts more pressure on a high-quality wooden-handled chisel and can damage a quality handle very quickly while resulting in a poor rugged cut on your work and timber.
Sometimes you just need to stop working and spend 5-10 min to sharpen your chisel properly. The Irwin maple chisels are good for beginners, as the handles will not get damaged easily. Compared to more expensive wooden-handled chisels, although a wooden handle chisel makes the hit from a mallet softer, letting a chisel’s impact on timber be smoother leaving a better more consistent cut on its slice.
What You Need To Sharpen A Chisel
Al you need to sharpen your chisel set or other woodworking blades is a sharpening stone, also known as water stones or whetstone. If you use your chisels a lot, a bench grinder can be useful to make sharpening a quicker process, it might seem intimidating to use a tool like a bench grinder if you have never used one before because sparks fly around but when you learn how it is a relatively safe and an easy tool to use.
What Is A Sharpening Stone
A sharpening stone is a cheap tool that lasts like you expect a stone would. Pretty handy to have as they are universally useful for sharpening any kind of blade, from woodworking chisels, carving chisels, knives, plane blades, you understand any kind of blade. Obviously not big things like an ax not that it wouldn’t work, it’s just not practical.
A good sharpening stone comes with 2 different grits on each side of the stone, the first side is used to get your chisel quickly right. Then the second side of the stone is a higher grit used to fine-tune and get your blade as sharp as you can.
If you are new to woodworking you don’t need to have a bench grinder, it just makes it faster to sharpen a blade that has significant wear and tear from a construction environment or hitting a nail.
As sharpening stones do last a long time they still do wear-out on the most used face of the stone, therefore you want to develop a sharpening technique, to wear the stone out evenly. Although the stones are so cheap, a lot of people don’t worry about it more on this below.
What Is A Bench Grinder
A bench Grinder is an electric girder that sits in a stable position on a workbench. Useful for grinding any metal it is most useful for quickly sharpening blades if they need a lot grind’ ed down to get past chips in your chisel’s blade. For example, hitting a nail with your blade can cause a big chip.
Always wear safety glasses, go-slow, take a small bit of at a time, and always have a pot of water to dip your blade in every 2-4 swipes to stop it the steel overheating and weakening your chisel blade causing it to chip more easily in the future. Never use a grinder close to a flammable source. Or a glass window, as hot metal sparks can embed into the glass and damage a window pane if the sparks hit you it won’t burn you. But wear safety glasses, for the same reason you don’t want to grind close to any glass.
How To Sharpen Blades With A Stone
Most sharpening can be done with a decent sharpening stone, this is how you get your chisel as sharp as you can. If you have a big chip you might need to go down to using a bench grinder.
Step 1 – Use some oil, water, or just spit to lubricate your sharpening stone on the low grit side to start off with
Step 2 – Move the chisel up and down the stone in a figure 8 motion at the 2 different angles one at a time as specified by your chisel manufacture or your preference. The figure 8 is to avoid UN-equal wear on your stone, although you don’t have to do it this way.
For construction use of a chisel that gets used for demolition, some builders have 3 angles on their chisel instead of 2, This means the sharp edge is very steep and small, and less likely to chip when hitting a nail,this also allows for a quicker sharpen, although this is not a good idea for woodworking as you cannot get your chisel as sharp with this sharpening method, compared to having 2 angles on your cutting edge.
Step 4 – Once the 2 angels are looking right and the chisel is reasonably sharp, you want to flip over your stone to get the fine grit side
Step 5 – Repeat the same process as step 2 until you think it is sharp.
Step 6 – Once you think it is sharp, be aware that the sharpening process has left a burr on the edge, you need to remove the unseen burr that will be left on the point of the chisel. Do this by scrapping the blade backward on some leather, like some leather work boots.
Step 7 – Test the blade’s sharpness by taking a slice out of some wood, if the chisel is not easily and smoothly shaving wood, repeat the above steps again this can take 2-3 try’s to get bang on.
Step 8 – After you are done sharpening your chisel, you can apply some lubricating oil on it to prevent rust build-up.
How To Sharpen Blades With A Bench Grinder
If you hit a nail and have a nasty chip in the cutting edge of your chisel it will be quicker to take the chisel blade back using a variable speed bench grinder equipped with a fine-grit wheel instead of spending ages on a sharpening stone.
Here are the steps for sharpening your chisel with a grinder.
Step 1 – Hold the chisel against the wheel with both hands on the correct angle.
Step 2 – Move the chisel evenly horizontally across the wheel and move it from left to right, 2 -4 swipes at a time.
Step 3 – Stop the chisel from getting too hot by removing it from the wheel every 2-4 swipes and dipping it in some cold water. You don’t want to see any black burn marks on the steel this will degrade the strength of your chisel by over heating it. It can help to use a variable speed bench grinder so you can reduce the grinder speed.
Step 4 – After you have achieved a decent result you want to move on to the sharpening stone steps, above as you can not get a chisel perfectly sharp on a bench grinder.
Using a Portable Grinder Instead
Yes, you can use a portable hand grinder to sharpen a chisel if you have to. Keep in mind you need to be confident and know what you are doing as it is harder to do and it is not as safe as using a stable bench grinder. Be aware that a bench grinder stone won’t break as a cut-off grinder blade can, this is something that makes a bench grinder safer of course you can make sure to use a grinding disk on your angle grinder.
A portable grinder will be slower, and you will do a average job. But sometimes you have to make do with what you have. It is still possible I do it on occasion if I don’t have a bench grinder on hand. A bench grinder is much safer and easier to use to good results.
Although for sharpening when accuracy isn’t that big of a deal like, sharpening an wood splitting axe or shovel a cordless angle grinder will do the job best.
If you are going to use an angle grinder to sharpen a tool blade:
- You need to make sure you have a metal girding disk on your grinder. Do not use a cut-of blade a cut of blade can easily fail and can break and fly in multiple directions in a very dangerous way.
- You need to very securely lock the grinder in position with your foot on a clear concrete floor wearing sturdy steel cap construction boots.
- You need to angle your self and the blade so the direction of the grinder is spinning away from you.
- Wear long trousers of a strong material like jeans and a pair of safety glasses that fully seal to your face. Sparks are hot and can embed in your eye, meaning you cannot remove them yourself you need a professional.
- Never ever use a big powerful 9-inch grinder to sharpen a chisel, that is very dangerous. Only a small low power grinder and again with a grinding disk, not a cut-of disk.
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