Are your chisels getting dull? There are plenty of ways to sharpen a chisel but one of our favorite ways is just to use the bench grinder. If you know how to sharpen chisels on a bench grinder, it’s a quick and easy way to get the job done!
Of course, you also need to make sure your bench grinder has the power to handle the job. This is usually not a problem but it could be. Other than that, you just need to know the proper way to take care of the task!
In this guide, we will walk you through the process of sharpening your chisels using a bench grinder.
1. Equipment details
If you want to use the bench grinder, you just need to be sure you are prepared for the task. You also need to make sure your bench grinder is prepared! The good news is that most bench grinders are prepared for just such a task.
The only time there should be a concern that it can’t handle it is if you happen to have really low power output from your grinder. The reason is that your wheel is going to need to be able to turn continuously at a steady speed for a little bit of time. You don’t want it to overheat in the process.
We recommend making sure you use a grinder that has a wheel at least 1/8 and larger if possible. Never try to use something smaller for this particular task.
Next, you need to make sure your wheel is the right material to sharpen. This is detailed by the grade of the wheel, which you are probably familiar with slightly. It is measured by grit in this case. When you are sharpening we recommend a grit of 60 and then just be sure your wheel is medium hard.
2. Don’t forget safety gear
Before you start, you need to be prepared for safety. When you start using the grinder for your chisel blade, there will be sparks and there will quite possibly be some flying materials as well. These flying pieces are hot metal so you definitely want to protect yourself.
We recommend the following safety gear.
- Safety goggles
- Leather gloves
- Leather work apron
These things should help protect you from those hot pieces so you don’t end up with them on your skin or in your eyes.
3. Understand your chisels
Next, you need to be familiar with your chisels before you get started. These are not all made with the exact same materials so it’s best if you have any idea what your chisel is made of.
Most of the time, at least with quality chisels, the edges have some sort of steel alloy. The nice part about steel alloys is they maintain an edge and they are just pliable enough to easily sharpen.
Not all chisels have softer steel like this so if you know your materials this can help you prepare for how difficult sharpening might be)
4. The sharpening begins
If you are able to use a jig with your grinder, this is really ideal. The grinding wheel with the jig just makes the task that much easier but it will also help get the angles honed just right on the chisel.
This is because the jig will hold your chisel for you just exactly where it needs to be so you don’t have to worry about accidental movement or your hand tiring out in that position.
Follow these steps for the actual sharpening process.
- Get the grinder set up and ready to go at a speed that will be steady and won’t overheat your machine.
- Add a jig if you have one available to help hold the chisel steady.
- Put on your safety gear.
- Start the grinder up to get the wheel moving.
- Touch the chisel to the grinder wheel and allow it to begin sharpening at the appropriate angles.
- Move the chisel as needed for sharpening throughout the process. Be sure to keep your angles aligned.
- Run steadily until the chisel is sharpened to perfection.
You can finish off by treating the chisel or even coating it with protective material.
Watch the Angles
Making sure you sharpen the chisels to the appropriate angles is perhaps just as important as anything else in the process. You could easily ruin a chisel, or make it less effective if you mess up those angles for the hones edges.
You should have a basic understanding of the bevel angle that you need before you start sharpening. If you are unsure, the general angle is 25 degrees. However, this is not always the case. This is the average angle.
There are some chisels that are honed to different angles, depending on how they are made and what they are used for. If 25 degrees is not the right angle, changes are the angle will be 30 or 35 degrees. These can make a significant difference though so do your groundwork to know for sure!
Finally, the last part of the sharpening process is honing your chisels if needed. Honing flattens out one side of the chisel to help get you a nice, sharp edge. That flat edge really brings the sharpness to the point of perfection.
Honing a chisel is harder than just sharpening the chisel. It is a separate process. Honing typically involves the use of high-grit sandpaper combined with tempered glass. It just works to really polish and flatten out the sharp edge and get rid of any irregularities.
If you aren’t comfortable with honing, you can practice and you can still sharpen your chisels for use instead.
We hope that you find this guide to sharpening your chisels on a grinding wheel to be useful. It’s a simple process if you know the basic steps. Just be sure you understand the bevel angle of your chisel and watch for signs that your grinder could be overheating.
Don’t forget your safety gear before you get started!