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Q & A: Chisel Sharpening Angles


Grind a new 25-degree bevel. Grind all the way up to the leading end. Make sure the end is square within a few degrees. To prevent overheating, frequently dip the chisel in water as you approach the leading end.

Q & A: Chisel Sharpening Angles



I’m confused about sharpening angles for chisels. One book suggested 30 degrees, but my new chisels are ground at 25 degrees. What gives?


The grind angle on a chisel depends on what the chisel is used for. Most chisels will function well with a low grind angle, but they tend to dull quickly.

Because a mortising chisel is commonly used with a mallet, it’s not as important that it cuts easily, therefore, a larger grind angle, such as 35 degrees, provides a longer edge-life. A paring chisel needs to easily slice through wood fibers, so it should have a lower grind angle (25 degrees). Because a chisel’s life span depends on the number of times it’s sharpened, you want to maintain the largest grind angle that suits the purpose of the tool. A 30- degree grind angle is considered appropriate for a general purpose bench chisel providing adequate cutting ease and edge life.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker April 1999, issue #72.

April 1999, issue #72

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