With this easy-to-remember technique, you can put your chisels and plane irons back to work with scalpel-sharp cutters in mere minutes.

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As woodworkers, we'd much rather be working with tools than working on them, so we tend to put off sharpening until we absolutely have to. The tools get too dull to make clean cuts, and the drudgery begins. But with this simple, easy-to-remember technique, you can put your chisels and plane irons back to work with scalpel-sharp cutters in mere minutes. Here's how.

Flatten the back once

A chisel or plane iron must have a dead-flat back to cut properly. Spritz the coarse side of a 325-grit diamond stone with water and rub the back of the tool side-to-side until you get an even scratch pattern. Repeat the process on the extra-fine face of the diamond stone (1,200 grit), and then on the ceramic stone (6,000 grit) to polish the back. Stop when you achieve a flat, mirrorlike surface. Once the back shines, you'll never have to repeat this step again.

Eye reflection in back of chisel

Grind, hone, hone, hone. Repeat.

With a grinder or the coarse side of your diamond stone, establish a 25° bevel on the front face of your blade. Secure the blade in the honing guide and sharpen the tip at 30°, starting with the extra-fine diamond stone and polishing with the ceramic stone. When your tool shows signs of dulling, sharpen that tip again at 30° using the 1,200- and 6,000-grit stones. After several sharpenings, the leading edge will take up more and more of the blade's front face. When it approaches one third to one half of that surface, regrind the blade at 25° and start the circle of sharpening over again.

Group of chisels in a circle

#05M09.01, Lee Valley, 800-871-8158, leevalley.com Extra fine/coarse DMT DuoSharp diamond bench stone; 6,000-grit Shapton GlassStone ceramic water stone: woodmagazine.com/sharpenstones