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Re: [Shop-talk] Sharpening a woodworking chisel?

To: David Scheidt <>
Subject: Re: [Shop-talk] Sharpening a woodworking chisel?
From: "Peter J. Thomas" <>
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 2009 00:51:40 -0400
David Scheidt wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 3:35 PM, Peter J. Thomas<> wrote:
>> Matt Trebelhorn wrote:
>>> I seem to have lost the knack.
>>> Actually, I haven't tried to sharpen a chisel in maybe 8 years.  The  one
>>> I did back then is still pretty good, but I can't sharpen the  rest of the
>>> set very well.  I have the same stone I used back then,  and I use a little
>>> bit of oil on the stone... any tips or suggestions?
>> The above suggests most of the chisels are as they came from the
>> manufacturer.  Out of the box, most chisels won't hold a decent edge, so you
>> need to flatten/polish the backs.  Google "Scary Sharp".  One addition, make
>> a leather strop from the tongue of an old shoe glued to a flat piece of wood
>> and charge it with fine polishing compound.  Wipe the back and bevel on the
>> strop after sharpening and often while using the chisels.
> I'm not a big fan of scary sharp.  It's not that it doesn't do a good
> job, it's just that it's a pain, and sandpaper is very expensive.
> Plus he says he's got stones, so it's not as if he's starting from
> scratch.
I also prefer oil stones for regular sharpening, but most chisels 
initially need significant material removed to flatten them, so "scary 
sharp" is a good way to get them lapped flat and polished initially.  It 
can also be used to clean up an oil stone, though I prefer my diamond stone.

Matt writes that he has a single stone that is eight years old, though 
it may be a two sided combination stone.  So I suspect, one: it's not 
coarse enough to remove significant material and two: it is clogged and 
gummed up from oil and steel sitting and oxidizing over the years.  
Assume it is a two sided, it takes a lot of work with the fine side to 
remove the scratches from the coarse side.  Assume its single grit 
stone, its a even more work to flatten a chisel back with a fine stone 

You are correct, scary sharp can get expensive over time, but the one 
time cost for a half a dozen sheets is acceptable for the initial truing 
of the chisel set.
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