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What's the best bevel angle for my chisel?

Q:

With so many books, magazines, videos, and websites describing different ways to sharpen tools—and each proclaiming theirs as the best way—I’m more confused than ever. I just want to know what bevel angle makes the most sense for my wood chisels. Can you cut through the murk and provide some clarity?
—Hank Stephenson, Layton, Utah

A:

Most woodworkers have one or two types of chisels, Hank: bench and paring. Bench chisels, the most common, have blades about 4–6" long, and can be struck with a mallet. They come with blades of either O1 steel, a soft grade that’s easier to sharpen, or A2, a harder alloy that holds an edge longer. Sharpen bench chisels with a 25° bevel angle for best results. If you want to add a microbevel (a thin, secondary edge right at the tip that makes touch-up honing easier), then go with 30° for O1 and 35° for A2.

Paring chisels should be used only for hand-guided work, never struck with a mallet. These chisels have 6–10"-long blades and excel at trimming and shaping wood rather than chopping. To make these types of cuts easier, sharpen a 20° bevel on these chisels, adding a 25° microbevel if you want one. 

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