In Tricks of the Trade

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Chisel Sharpening Jig

If you’ve had trouble grinding a straight edge on a chisel or plane iron, try using your disc sander. All you need is a guide that slides in your sander’s miter gauge slot and an 80 or 100-grit disc.

To make the guide, start with a 3/4″ x 5″ x 8″ base. Cut a groove for a runner in its bottom that puts the base’s edge about 1/32″ away from the sanding disc. Cut the front edge of the base at 25°. This is the standard grinding angle for a general-purpose chisel. Later, use a stone to hone a 30° bevel on the chisel. If you want to use the chisel direct from the disc sander, which is OK for rough work, cut the base’s front edge at 30°.

Add a runner to the base, then make the tool rest. It’s just a block of hardwood with a stop block glued on one side. The stop block keeps the edge of your tool square to the sanding disc. Cut the front face of the tool rest at the same angle that you cut the base. Glue and screw the tool rest to the base, lining up the angled portions, and you’re ready to go.

Before you begin, here’s an important cautionary note: To prevent sparks from starting a fire, disconnect your disc sander from your vac or dust collector. Also, clean up any piles of sawdust inside or under the sander; an ember may smolder there and start a fire later on.

To use the jig, position it a little left of center of the sanding disc–if your disc rotates counterclockwise. (The disc’s rotation should push down on the chisel, not up.) Place the chisel against the stop block, then slide the chisel down the tool rest until it makes contact with the disc. Slide the jig back and forth. –Fred Adams

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