February 26, 2022
So, you have been using your chisel for a long time, and you’ve noticed that its edge is no longer as sharp as before. You want to sharpen it using your bench grinder, but you are quite hesitant because it will be your first time using the bench grinder to sharpen a chisel. Hence, you want to know whether the bench grinder is appropriate for sharpening a chisel.
Well, many woodworkers have also found themselves in such a dilemma. Some, however, took the risk and went on sharpening their chisels using the bench grinders. Others, however, played it safe and took their dull chisels to a professional sharpener.
But is it really appropriate to sharpen your chisels using the bench grinder? If you would ask me, I’d readily tell you that you can get by sharpening your chisel using your bench grinder. Nevertheless, it will be helpful to know the essential techniques when using the bench grinder to keep your chisel from overheating while maintaining the correct edge bevel of your chisel.
What Made A Perfect Grinder for Sharpening Chisel?
If you are desirous of using a bench grinder for sharpening chisels, you might as well consider the following factors that make a bench grinder ideal for sharpening chisels:
It Should be a Low-Speed Grinder (1750rpm)
You will find that most bench grinders run at a tremendous speed of 3,450rpm. This speed may not be ideal for sharpening your chisel, for it can make the steel of your chisel overheat. So, before you consider sharpening your chisel on these grinders, you better think twice. On the other hand, you will find a low-speed grinder (1750rpm) perfect for sharpening chisels.
You can reduce the risks of overheating your chisel with a lower-speed grinder. So, if your bench grinder has variable speed, it will be best to set it at a low speed when sharpening chisels. Low-speed grinders, moreover, mostly come with friable grinder wheels. These wheels usually are better for sharpening than the other type of grinder wheels meant for high-speed grinders.
Use the White Grinding Wheel
When it comes to grinding wheels, you will find two types of aluminum-oxide wheels: white and blue-gray. The darker-colored wheel is harder, while the white one is softer. The downside of using the harder one is that it can weaken the steel with too much heat.
The softer wheel, however, will require frequent shaping. Nevertheless, it will not overheat the chisel’s edge during the grinding process. Experts would readily recommend that you use a wheel with 100-grit when sharpening chisel blades.
If you grind more massive tools like cold chisels and axes, you will not have much trouble using the harder wheels that rotate at 3450rpm. Nevertheless, if you are sharpening bench chisels, plane blades, or carving tools using high speed, you can take the temper out of your tool. Moreover, it is too easy to over-sharpen or grind your tool, causing its tip to disintegrate.
Hence, it is advisable to use wheels that are appropriate for your sharpening requirements. Besides, as mentioned above, variable speed grinders will be more suited to sharpening chisels than those bench grinders with only one speed.
Most Recommended Bench Grinders for Sharpening Chisels
Bench grinders and sharpening equipment come in various types and models. So, choosing becomes difficult if you are a newbie in woodworking. To facilitate the buying process for you, you can check out the following most recommended bench grinders in the market today:
Last update on 2023-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1) RIKON 80-805 Bench Grinder
One important quality you should always look for in a bench grinder is a strong motor. The RIKON 80-805 has a powerful motor at .5HP capable of 1750rpm. It is perfect for woodworkers who need a bench grinder in their workshops.
Another sterling feature of this bench grinder is its rubber feet that prevent vibration. It is also wrought in cast iron for long-lasting durability and sturdiness.
The RIKON 80-805 also comes with some safety features like its safety eye shield that is adjustable. It also has spark resistors that allow for a higher level of safety. Moreover, it comes with a groove, allowing you to sharpen drill bits. Another thing is that this bench grinder features a diamond-laced (wheel) sharpener and heat-reducing feature.
2) WEN 4286
You don’t need to dispose of your dull chisels and other rusty tools if you have the WEN 8-inch Bench Grider. It is perfect for woodworker workshops for sharpening scissors, blades, screwdrivers, and chisels. It is powerful but very compact. Moreover, its wheels are 8 inches in diameter and one inch wide.
One wheel has 60-grit, allowing you to remove material and engage in different types of grinding. It also has another wheel (120-grit) for sharpening blades. Besides, it comes with a 3-amp motor, allowing for a consistent 1750rmp speed, perfect for edge sharpening.
You can easily remove its wheel guard for easy replacement of the wheel. It also comes with safety features like eye guards (adjustable).
3) BUCKTOOL TDS-200DS
Another great option if you’re looking for a reliable bench grinder is the BUCKTOOL TDS-200DS. It carries a .5HP induction motor that features two speeds. It offers consistent torque and smooth functioning at both speeds. You can also set it at a slow pace when sharpening the edges of tools. Moreover, its high speed is ideal for removing metal.
The BUCKTOOL TDS-200DS comes with two wheels, one 120 grit and one with 80 grit. It also comes with two pieces of tool rests made of cast aluminum. Moreover, its base is sturdy, being made of cast iron. The base comes with mounting holes, capable of putting in check walking and wobbling. It also comes with a buffing wheel for different types of polishing.
4) BUCKTOOL TDS-200C4HL
BUCKTOOL TDS-200C4H is a powerful grinder that is powered by a 3/4HP with a speed rate of 1750rpm. It features two wheels, one for grinding and a CBN wheel. It also features an individual switch and 3W LED, allowing for precise and detailed sharpening. Moreover, it comes with safety features like an eye shield that you can adjust with three levels of magnification.
It comes with a tool rest made of cast aluminum that you can adjust up to 45 degrees. Its base is made of cast iron and supported by rubber feet. These rubber feet make the operation free of vibration. It also features a safety switch that comes with a key.
5) Oneway Wolverine Grinding Jig (Additional Accessory)
This sharpening jig is another good option if you want to sharpen your chisel. If you are a tyro in woodworking, you will indeed appreciate the precision this grinding jig offers.
The Wolverine Jig features two bases: a traditional base and a more extended base. The conventional base is perfect for sharpening plane blades and smaller chisels. The base on the longer jig is good for sharpening the chisel.
This extendable jig can extend up to 27 inches. The base can hold the chisel well to prevent it from moving or twisting while you sharpen it. Its bases feature a cam-lock clamping. This feature ensure that the installation and removal of any attachment is quick and easy.
You may find this jig less appealing if you are already an experienced woodworker, for you will more often use your grinder instead of using this jig.
Helpful Tips When Sharpening Chisels
If it is your first time using a bench grinder to sharpen a chisel, you may do it incorrectly if you are ill-advised on the proper way of sharpening chisels. Hence, it will be best to be cognizant of the following tips for optimum sharpening results:
Have a Standby Container with Water
Since most chisels are wrought in tempered steel, there is a great likelihood that the steel may turn bluish-black when overheated. Moreover, it may break once exposed to too much heat. To prevent damaging the chisel’s edge due to overheating, it will be best to have a pail of water nearby to cool the tool when it is near overheating.
You can move the chisel over the grinder once every few seconds. Then, you can dip the edge in the water to cool it.
Power and Size
One factor that you need to consider is the size and power of your bench grinder. It should be large enough (8″) to handle the length of your chisel. It should also be powerful enough to rotate while you grind consistently.
Moreover, it should be consistently rotating even if you apply to its wheel enough pressure. It should also provide the right speed for proper sharpening; otherwise, it may cause the blade edge to overheat.
Types of Metal
Another thing that you should consider when sharpening your chisel is the type of metal that makes up your chisel. Chisels usually differ from one another according to the type of metal used in their cutting edge. The cutting edges are usually made of alloys, and alloys have different metallic compositions.
Some chisels’ cutting edges are made of Chromium Vanadium, Chromium Manganese, 01 and A2, and PM-V11. These four types of steel are highly recommended for chisel’s cutting edge. Nevertheless, each type of steel may necessitate different sharpening techniques.
Many experienced woodworkers will no longer need a grinding jig when sharpening chisels. Yet, if you are new to woodworking, you would find grinding jigs helpful to get the perfect angle when sharpening tools.
Jigs come in different types. Some are improvised jigs, while you can also find aftermarket jigs and kits. You will find that most professional woodworkers depend much on jigs to get a perfect grind when sharpening tools.
Caveats When Sharpening Chisels Using a Bench Grinder
Experts would readily share their tips on what to do and what to avoid when sharpening your chisel on the bench grinder. We’ve collated these tips to help you do the sharpening of chisel safely and accurately:
Figure out the Proper Bevel Angle
The proper bevel of most chisels is usually at 25 degrees. This angle provides the optimum overall result when sharpening. Some woodworkers, however, use another micro-bevel when sharpening the chisel’s cutting edge. Moreover, this micro-bevel is great on O1 and other steels. These steels must have a secondary 30 degrees bevel. A2 steel, however, necessitates a micro bevel of 35-degrees.
Enhance Your Tool Rest by Upgrading It
When you are short of money, you may shortchange yourself by buying an inexpensive bench grinder with challenging-to-adjust and wobbly tool rest. Such a tool rest will make it difficult for you to steady your tool when grinding or sharpening. It will be best in such a case to equip your grinder with an additional stand-alone tool rest.
Online, you will find several types of stand-alone tool rests. Look for something with two adjustments for aligning and positioning your tool rest. Look also for something with levers for quick tightening. If you need to upgrade, don’t hesitate to upgrade.
Utilize a Jig for Optimum Results
Your chisel needs to have that bevel angle on its cutting edge to ensure the longevity of your chisel and achieve a clean cut. If you are inexperienced in sharpening chisels, you will find it hard to figure out if you have already achieved the desired angle via freehand sharpening.
Moreover, it will be good to consider that even experts rely on jigs when sharpening chisels. So, if you want better sharpening results, use a jig for optimum results.
When buying a bench grinder, you should also go for something that comes with jigs. You can also spend more to purchase something with grinding wheels, grinding machines, and jigs altogether. Such a sharpening system may be expensive, but it will surely help you achieve the best sharpening results.
Learn the Proper Honing of Chisels
One process that is crucial when sharpening your chisel is honing. Honing is the flattening of your cutting tool’s back. This process is vital to create the most refined cutting edge. You can utilize tempered glass or a granite piece for the honing process. It will also help to use sandpapers (800 to 3000 grit) to hone the chisel’s back efficiently.
You should engage in honing slowly and with care. Otherwise, you may end up removing much metal from the chisel. You want to achieve a perfectly polished and flat chisel back, which is crucial in achieving effortless chiseling. With a perfectly flat back, you can keep the edge parallel to the wood surface.
What Factors Determine the Sharpness of the Edge of the Chisel?
Tools with cutting edges, like the chisels, feature steel that is hardened and tempered during the manufacturing process. During the manufacturing process, the steel is subjected to heating at a specified temperature. Afterward, the heated steel is drenched in a cooling liquid to harden. This process alters the steel’s internal structure, which makes it more durable and sturdier.
However, the tempering process lets the edge retain a certain softness of its steel to make it less brittle. Moreover, tempered steel is characterized by a fine cutting edge that will not shatter or break when the cutting edge hits a hard object.
You may be familiar with the timely advice of Abraham Lincoln about the value of the sharpening process. He said that if you were given me six hours to chop down a tree, you should at least spend the first four hours sharpening the ax. Such advice is apropos for beginner woodworkers who are too eager to chop wood but don’t want to spend time honing their chisels or tools.
Sharpening your chisels, of course, may take time and effort on your part. Nevertheless, the time and effort you spend in sharpening your chisels are worth spending because such a process will facilitate the chiseling process for you. You should also learn the right ways of sharpening your chisels to ensure that you will not damage their edges and achieve optimum sharpening results.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.