My Paring chisel – re(shape/sharpen)ed

The chisel that I rely heavily on when working up joinery is my paring chisel. It’s a 1 1/4″ Stanley SW chisel with the handle that fits into the shaft of the metal. That allows me to use the chisel handle that came with it… or the longer chisel handle that I turned a couple years back. The longer handle allows me more body control when I want it, and I favor that handle because I’m more comfortable with it.


When I first got the chisel I ran the back flat on a diamond stone until I had a working flat back – the tip of the chisel, a midpoint and the base – and all along the sides were even and created the reference edge. Subsequently I’ve seen a lot of folks that teach use of the chisel show off the back of the chisel being flattened and mirror finished – yes much more than required, but darn nice to show off! And I finally succumbed to doing that here as well. And as long as I was doing that, I wanted to set the primary bevel to 20 degrees (not the default of 30 or 35 degrees it had). And as long as I was doing this for hand tool work, I would do all the grinding by hand. How bad could that be!

Turns out – I spent most of 5 hours demoing the cleanup up and shaping while at Woodcraft one day. I was using my trend diamond stone (300/1000 on the two sides) to start the work. And the starting work on both sides, is really the bulk work that has to be done. So 3 hours at least were used. The fact the blade is so wide means it needs lots of movement to level everything down, and the pressure on the stones should only be at the very beginning. This chisel is not real thick and is long, so it can bend if you don’t apply the pressure evenly. Rather than bust a serious sweat, I just sat at the bench up front, and ran the blade back and forth, side to side and in circles, until I got an even grind.

The next set of actions were simply to move from the 300/1000 diamond stone, up to the glass/ceramic Shapton water stones I use to progress. The stones are flattened regularly by the diamond stone. They don’t wear down as fast as a pure water stone, but I wanted to ensure that I stayed flat. So, my progress was length-wise from each end side to side, then rotating the stone 180 degrees to run from the other end. After that, I rotated the stone 90 degrees and ran across the stone side to side – then rotated 180 degrees and did the side to side again.


Running the blade from the ends – right to left. First from one end, then from the other end. (the blade is resting on the side, but was held with the point running in the length)


Running the blade side to side- right to left. First from one side, then from the other side.

Once the pattern was run I would re-flatten the stone with the diamond stone to ensure the surface was as close as I could get to flat. The two pictures before and the 3 pics afterwards are the progression for the granules from 1000, 4000, 6000, 8000, 16000 and 30000. Yep, just because I can. And while pretty darn close to mirror, still (I was tired) I had some light scratches that still showed through. Maybe next time I’ll spend some more time on the upper granularity 🙂




Well – when I hit this level, note that the very end of the blade will showed a bit of non-treatement near the corners. I did what I could to get it even all the way across, but just didn’t make it all the way. Then I switched the chisel into a guide to change the angle, and realized I’d be trimming until I got to the lead edge anyways. Didn’t get 100% covered, but am pretty darn close. The Veritas setup let me grind a flat primary bevel, then bump it up for the micro-bevel. Most of the grinding was done on the 300 grit, then switched to 1000 to set the micro-bevel. (Turns out, I should have left the 300 grit in place for the grinding, and only switched to 1000g for the micro-bevel. But I did makes sure the tip was flat and square, and then moved to 1000g for the bevel side). Once the 1000 mg was run on the micro-bevel, I switched directly to the 8000g to finish the micro-bevel, then gently flipped the chisel back onto it’s belly and carefully and gently wiped the edge thread off in about 2 passes.

How sharp was it? (yep, shaving…)



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