Chisels can be exceptionally useful woodworking tools. When they are sharp, that is. When wood chisels are dull, they are only pretty much helpful for opening a can of paint.

You might be tempted to toss those dull chisels out and go buy new ones, but even a brand-new chisel needs to be sharpened before it can be used effectively. So, if you can think you can avoid the sharpening process, you’re only wasting precious time and money.

With that in mind, you need to take special care to ensure that your chisels stay sharpened at all times. But how do you exactly go about doing that?

While there are a variety of different chisel sharpening methods, in this piece, we will teach you how to sharpen a chisel through the use of sharpening stones

Making Sure that You Have the Right Materials

Before you get started with the chisel sharpening process, you need to make sure that you have the right materials. Of course, you need your chisels (a set of four shouldn’t cost you much more than $40). It’s also a good idea to pick up a honing guide. This will ensure that the chisel blade stays at the perfect sharpening angle throughout the process.

Next, you will need your sharpening water stones (it needs to be soaked in water for about 5-10 minutes before use). Depending on how sharp you want your chisel to be, you should probably pick up a few different stones (different stone sets can range from $25 to $50) since they vary in grit.

With all the right tools at your disposal, you should be ready to begin the sharpening process.

Flattening the Back of the Chisel

First, you should flatten the bottom two inches of the chisel. Some woodworking projects, such as paring and mortising, require a chisel to have a flat back, and this flattening process is known as lapping.

To do this, hold the chisel flat on the sharpening stone and maneuver it back and forth lengthwise. Start with working it on coarse grits and then move to the finer grits. Once those first two inches are covered with enough scratches, then you should be good to go.

Sharpening the Bevel

Next, you need to sharpen the bevel. For this to be done effectively, you need to be sure that the chisel is face down on its bevel. You don’t want the chisel to tip during this process, and while it is possible to do this by hand, now would be a good time to use the honing guide that was mentioned before.

Once the bevel is at the proper angle, draw it back and forth, again from coarse to medium to fine grits.

Honing the Edge

To bring the chisel edge to a fine point, proper honing needs to come into play. You can use either stones or sandpaper during this process, but just be sure you’re moving from coarse to fine grits.

When it comes to sharpening at a coarser grit (and this is something to keep in mind throughout the sharpening process), using an 800-grit stone or 150-grit sandpaper is a good place to start. Once you move on to about a 15,000-grit stone or 1,000-grit sandpaper, this is when your chisel should start to get particularly sharp.

Again, the honing guide is great to utilize during this step to make sure that the chisel is staying at the ideal angle.

Adding a Micro-bevel

Hopefully, your chisel is already sharp by this point, but to get it even sharper, consider adding a micro-bevel, which is simply just a small bevel at the end of a chisel’s already beveled edge. It’s not a necessary step, but adding a micro bevel can help to save you time as it can last you through several sharpenings.

To get the perfect micro bevel, get out your stone with the finest grit and put your chisel, along with the honing guide, onto the stone. Then, elevate the chisel’s handle slightly, and push it to the other side of the stone with a careful, steady stroke.

While not drawing it back on the stone, pick up the chisel, place it on the near side, and repeat this process several times, each time making sure to raise the chisel angle ever so slightly. Soon enough, you’ll have that razor-sharp micro bevel that you’ve been looking for.

Now You’re Ready to Put That Wood Chisel to Use

carpenter using chisel

Image by prostooleh via Freepik

Once you effectively sharpen your chisel, you should be ready to put it to work on that next project. It’s hard to beat that satisfaction of crafting a workpiece with a top-of-the-line chisel.

Just be sure that going forward, you make sure to consistently maintain the proper maintenance and care so that you never have to deal with dull chisels ever again.

Featured Image: Licensed via Adobe Stock

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