At what angle do I sharpen wood chisels? If you are a beginning woodworker, you might have become confused with so many articles proposing different answers to the question, ‘at what angle sharpen wood chisel?’ Chisels may look uncomplicated and straightforward, just a piece of a blade attached to a stick, but it has many variations, that sharpening these tools is an art, a ceremonial act in itself. Read on to know some few tips and tricks on what angle sharpen wood chisels.
The Standard Angle
Typically, the universal bevel angle of a chisel is set by factories at 25°. A chisel has two blade angles, a long and shallow one called the grinding angle. This blade usually has a standard 25° grind angle. The second angle of a chisel blade is usually set at 20° and is referred to as the cutting angle. But while 25° may be the standard angle, not a lot of people use that in practice when they sharpen their wood chisels.
Generally, a chisel gets sharper when the angle gets sharper as well, and it can cut through wood better. But this would also mean working with a more fragile tool that’s more prone to chipping and getting dull faster. If you keep the angle shallower at 30°, for example, you can be assured of a more durable tool. Deciding at what angle sharpen wood chisels is a toss-up between sharpness and durability.
What angles work best for certain tasks?
Most woodworkers stick to a range of 28 to 32°, depending on factors like the size, make and form of the chisel. The angle for sharpening and honing would still have a lot to do with the tasks you use the chisel for. Consider the following on what angle sharpen wood chisels.
- It may be best to keep more than one wood chisel, with each toolset at a varied angle to see which ones would best suit certain types of woodwork.
- You could consider having a chisel sharpened at 20° for tasks like paring and mortising hinges on a door.
- A shallower 30° would be ideal for heavier woodwork and heavy gauges.
- Lastly, the standard 25° would work best for all other tasks.
Sometimes, it’s not really a good idea to go steeper because chisels with steeper cutting edges cause more wood resistance. So, what angle sharpen wood chisels? If you are working with a cheaper chisel, it is best to be on the conservative side when you sharpen. This way, you will have sturdier edges and not end up with fragile ones that go dull fast.
Should your chisel edge be in need of rescue after getting chipped, rusty, or deformed, simply blunt-grind the damaged edge? You can do this by marking a line across the chisel and then doing the blunt-grinding to reshape the edge to the desired angle.
It is also important to properly hone your wood chisel, aside from just sharpening it. The simple difference between sharpening and honing is that sharpening entails making the chisel’s blades and edges effectively cut through a hard surface while honing means keeping the edges sharp for a longer time.
Honing the Chisel
To hone the chisel, it is important to flatten the back. Otherwise, the cutting edge will arc up and not be able to cut to the last grain. That’s why it is an art to sharpen and hone a chisel. A perfectly conditioned chisel will save you hours of work and spare you a lot of effort. It will help you perform your cutting jobs more effectively and keep you from accidents along the way.
Here are other helpful tips to sharpen and hone your wood chisel:
- Sharpen your wood chisel with an oilstone. Pour a little amount of oil on the oilstone, and then position your chisel at a correct angle.
- To sharpen your wood chisel on the oilstone, trace the number eight (‘8’). The following figure-eight allows you to use the entire width of the stone. This also ensures that every part of the chisel edge touches the oil stone’s surface at all times. You can do this repeatedly to master this step.
- Follow a simple honing guide to help you grind the bevel to your desired angle.
- Keep the chisel edge square to the sides. This is what most woodworkers prefer.
- You can utilize low-speed grinders to ensure that the bevel angle is set correctly. Some low-speed grinders you can consider are Tormek, Veritas, Work Sharp, and Lap-Sharp. These grinders have the needed tool holders and angle gauges to help you with your bevel angles.
- Be careful not to overheat while grinding the bevel.
- While honing, be sure to hold the edge of the wood chisel firmly on the stone.
You might think sharpening by hand is an outmoded method but ask any skilled and experienced woodworker or artisan. He would tell you of the great satisfaction one can get out of sharpening and honing a wood chisel by hand. All it takes is to keep on practicing and keeping an eye out on what angle sharpen wood chisels with. Here’s how to learn more about wood chisels.