How should I prepare a new chisel before using it?
If the blade has a lacquer coating for rust prevention, remove it with lacquer thinner, acetone or paint stripper. Chisels are lapped to varying degrees by the factory, and you’ll want to flatten the back if you intend to use yours for precise work.
It isn’t necessary to lap the entire back, just the first inch or two from the tip. A small concave area in the middle of the back isn’t an issue, but the flat surface should carry all the way across the cutting edge. After lapping, polish the back, working your way up to the finest grit of your sharpening medium. For a more comfortable grip, you can ease the side edges.
Sharpen the cutting edge by honing a 1°to 2° micro-bevel. Before increasing the bevel angle of a new blade, consider using it for a time with its factory angle. If you experience edge failure, increase the angle by 5°. This approach lets you optimize the cutting geometry for the work you do. We suggest using a honing guide because it quickly provides accurate, repeatable results.
When should I resharpen my chisel?
You should hone the cutting edge before it gets completely dull, once you notice a decline in performance. “Honing often and staying sharp” will require less effort in each sharpening and will maintain the cut quality from the tool. A sharp chisel is also safer to use than a dull one because it requires less force to make a cut.
To check a fresh edge for sharpness, try slicing a shaving off the end grain of a soft wood.
How should I store my chisels?
Chisel rolls provide a safe and economical means of storing your chisels together. For just a few chisels, plastic shields or magnetic chisel guards can be used. To keep rust at bay, wipe down the tool with a rust preventative or anti-corrosion oil after use.
For a more elegant storage solution, you can build a chisel tray or cabinet.
Now that your chisel is ready to go, it’s time to learn how to use it safely and effectively.