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How do you sharpen a chisel?

How to sharpen a chisel

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The tip of a cold chisel, labelled with the cutting edge Keeping it sharp is an important part of looking after your chisel. A cold chisel without a sharp edge is pretty much useless. Fortunately, it is possible to sharpen them.
Chisel being sharpened on an electric grinding wheel It is perfectly possible to sharpen a steel cold chisel using an offhand grinder/bench grinder, using a wheel with at least a “fine grit”.

Tools made from other materials may require use of a different grinder. You may wish to ask your manufacturer for advice.

How to sharpen a cold chisel using a grinder

Sharpening the cold chisel; the user is holding the chisel in both hands

Step 1 – Hold chisel

Hold the chisel in both hands against the wheel.

The cold chisel is moved across the grinder horizontally

Step 2 – Move chisel

Move the chisel across the wheel horizontally.

  Wonkee Donkee says "When sharpening a chisel, do not let it overheat, as this will cause the metal to weaken."
The cold chisel is removed to prevent it from getting too hot (a cup of water sits to the right of the grinder)

Step 3 – Cool off chisel

Remove the chisel from the wheel occasionally and cool it off in water to prevent it from getting too hot.

Lubricating oil

Step 4 – Apply oil

Once you have finished sharpening your chisel, apply a light coating of lubricating oil. This will prevent the tool going rusty.

The cutting angle of a cold chisel Remember that, for cold chisels at least, both sides of the cutting edge will require sharpening, with each side being sharpened to an angle half that of the final cutting angle.
A tool rest It is advised to use a tool rest to help you when sharpening your cold chisels.
A cold chisel resting on a tool rest whilst being sharpened A tool rest allows you to keep the cold chisel at the correct angle whilst using the wheel.
An oilstone Use of a sharpening stone may also be possible, especially if you simply want to touch up the cutting edge on a regular basis.
From left to right: half round chisel, cross cut/cape chisel and diamond point chisel Different angles and techniques may be required when sharpening cross cut, half round and diamond point chisels, due to the fact that they have differently shaped cutting edges.
A telephone Other types of chisel such as the brick bolster may not require sharpening as often unless they become severely damaged. You may wish to consult your manufacturer for advice on whether you need to sharpen your other chisels.

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