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Troubleshooting Chisel Sharpening Mistakes

Problems with chisel sharpening? We tackle the common problems and their solutions.

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  • Troubleshooting Chisel Sharpening Mistakes

    Problem:
    Honing marks show more on one side of the bevel than the other.

    Solution:
    Narrow chisels (1/4 - 1/2") present a small contact area between the bevel and the stone, making it hard to keep the blade flat as you hone. Use a honing guide or practice first on wide chisels to develop a routine before moving on to narrow ones.

  • Troubleshooting Chisel Sharpening Mistakes

    Problem:
    Honing marks appear wider at the bottom than the top or are only on one end of the bevel.

    Solution:

    Check your progress frequently as you hone and concentrate on keeping your handle angle consistent, even if that means lightening up on your honing pressure.

  • Troubleshooting Chisel Sharpening Mistakes

    Problem:

    Honing marks don't reach the center of the bevel.

    Solution:

    Wheel grinders leave a shallow concave, called a hollow ground, so grinding marks in the center are the last ones removed by a flat stone. Continue honing until you have a uniform surface, which signals a flat bevel.

  • Troubleshooting Chisel Sharpening Mistakes

    Problem:

    Multiple facets show on the bevel.

    Solution:

    If your chisel looks like this after grinding, go back and even out the bevels until you have a uniform surface. If this is a result of honing, focus on making stable, consistent arm and hand movements as the bevel travels back and forth across the stone.

  • Troubleshooting Chisel Sharpening Mistakes

    Problem:

    Not knowing when to stop.

    Solution:

    This bevel is nearly finished. (Note the remaining scratches on the upper left.) A few more passes on the 8,000-grit stone will leave a polished surface and a sharp edge. The ideal bevel will reflect a flash of light off the surface the way sunlight flashes off a mirror.

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