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In the next issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine I review the Chestnut Tools Universal Sharpener from Lee Valley Tools. I learned about this remarkable and inexpensive little tool from furniture maker Freddy Roman. I was skeptical about it until I got my hands on it.

This thing is … well you’ll have to read my review for that.

One of the best things it does in my shop is to refile the edge of a worn card scraper to perfectly square, clean and wicked sharp – ready for a little stoning and a burnisher. Removing traditional file marks with your stones can be tedious. The surface this tool leaves is remarkable.

Universal Sharpener from Christopher Schwarz on Vimeo.

I prepared this short video that shows how I file scraper edges with the assistance of my face vise. Note that I’m holding the scraper so it’s about 85° from the edge of the Universal Sharpener. The exact angle isn’t important, but when you feel the carbide edge bite the scraper and remove steel shavings without a lot of effort, that’s the sweet spot.

The shape of the Universal Sharpener isn’t ideal for turning the burr on a scraper (in my experience, at least), so you’ll still need a burnisher to finish the sharpening job.

The Universal Sharpener includes instructions for sharpening all kinds of tools. It’s earned a permanent place in my tool chest – right next to my burnisher.

— Christopher Schwarz

For more on sharpening, and what “sharp” really means, read Ron Hock’s book, “The Perfect Edge.”

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Showing 4 comments
  • Mark

    With great care to keep the sharpening carbide steel vertical/square can it be sharpened using diamond stones or does it need to be replaced when it is no longer sharp?

  • Larry Jackson

    Couldn’t wait for the article to drive this tool out of stock, so I ordered and just received it. I had given up on two pair of “unsharpenable” scissors years ago. After 10-15 seconds using the universal, I can now shave my face with them. Thanks for the heads up, Chris!

  • Christopher Schwarz

    Read the instructions for the scraper at the Lee Valley website:,43072

    (Look down at the bottom.

    The carbide shears off steel like a car scraper shears wood.

  • handtoolfool

    I’ll be interested in reading that article. I’m not clear on how this device replaces a file in the scraper honing process. It seems that it just adds another tool/step to the process.

    Looking at the tool itself it looks like it uses a carbide piece that functions much like the card scraper it is designed to hone. I already have the Benchcrafted carbide scraper. Could it be used the same way?

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James HamiltonWoodworking Glossary