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Sharpening Chisels & Skews

Woodcarving chisels, which differ from bench chisels in several important respects, are some of the simplest carving tools, but they still need sharpening properly!

And here's how. You can read a lot more about sharpening chisels and skews in my book: Woodcarving Tools, Materials & Equipment vol.1.


| 20 January 2020 17:06

Chris - I don't recommend the diamond stone in part because I've yet to find the equivalent 'cut' to the Arkansas, but also the lack of slipstones in the diamond world. At the end of the day, however, I really don't care what people use to sharpen their carving tools! If you can create what I am calling the 'correct' profile of the bevels along with a keen cutting edge using a house brick, then no argument from me. Let's get on with the carving!
So, see how it goes. If what you have and do works, then no need to get anything else. Look at the No Fear Sharpening download for a crib sheet of what you are looking for.

| 19 January 2020 12:29

Hi Chris - New member enjoying your advice and the videos. I have been making walking sticks for more years than I care to remember, but I have only just moved into detail carved heads more recently. Forgive me if I have not delved far enough into your videos but I have yet to find reference to Diamond stones. Instead you seem to favour the Arkansas finishing stone.
I have an Ultex double sided 1000 / 300 that I use. Should this be appropriate or should I start saving up again.
Regards Chris Burton

| 22 April 2016 14:58

Shane - The #1 on the Sheffield list is a double-bevelled chisel. I use these for principally for letter carving and sometimes when I need a straight edge within a carving. (Sharpened as below.) If I want to cut a woodworking joint such as a mortise or tenon, or and truly flat face, then the single-bevel carpentry chisel is the tool of choice. If I want to flatten the background of, say, a relief carving, then I go for the flattest gouge, the #3. What you end up with are very light scoops of facets. You can't use a dead flat #1 because you'll just keep digging the corners in.

| 20 April 2016 21:13

Chris, I'm sorry if maybe i used the wrong verbiage. I was thinking of the #1 of the sheffield list. Do you use these or do you only normally use the 3 as your flat tool? I was wondering because I have a #1 and was wondering how to sharpen it.

| 20 April 2016 19:57

Shane - I never trust factory specs! At the end of the day only you will know what edge you want, not a non-carver on their hundredth tool of the day.
You are looking to the chisel's compound angle: the size of the overall wedge of the 'chisel' metal. If you sharpen each side at a low cutting angle of about 15 degrees, you'll get an overall 30 degrees.

Single bevel chisels: I never use them except for general woodworking and then they are sharpened as a regular carpenter's bench chisel (look online) - and that's very different from the carver's chisel, which is effectively used bevel down.

| 20 April 2016 02:28

Hi Chris,
How do you figure out the cutting angle on a double bevel? Or just keep it with factory specs? For a single bevel chisel, same question.

| 12 February 2016 19:17

Chris, it works now, sorry for the inconvenience! It's a great pleasure to follow your videos. I have learned from a master in my country (France),there is 18 years ago, who was self-taught, it's good to see the way of another master, who learned from a master who learned from a master... a lot of skills!

| 12 February 2016 14:54

François - I can't reproduce your issue with the sound. Anyone else? Perhaps emptying your cache and refreshing might fix it.

| 12 February 2016 10:47

Hello Chris, thank you for your 'work'! I have seen or rather heard since 1.55 until the end, there is a ticitic sound instead of your voice.

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