Norton Abrasives Products and Accessories
Norton Abrasives Products and Accessories
Do-It-Yourself/Contractor Markets - North America

Sharpening Plane Blades & Chisels

Do-It-Yourself Project


If you are a woodworker or use chisels and plane blades often, you know the wear and tear that they can take. To return them to a mirror finish follow the simple steps below.

Step 1 - Preparing the Back Face


The back face on a correctly sharpened blade has two characteristics: it is flat, and it is polished. Preparing the back face is a one-time operation. The back face can only be made flat if the abrasive surface is flat. Polishing is the removal of the grinding marks until the surface becomes reflective. A cutting edge is formed by the intersection of the two flat surfaces. The flatter and more polished the two surfaces, the sharper the cutting edge and the longer it will stay sharp. To flatten and polish the back face, choose from any combination of oil stones, water stones, diamond stones, Metalite® sheets and diamond paste. Place the abrasive on a solid, non-slip surface and work the blade with arms extended adding the weight of your upper body. The more pressure you apply, the faster the cut rate.


To Flatten and Polish using Stones, Choose From the Following Options:

Water Stones: 200, 1000, 4000, 8000
Oil Stones: Silicon Carbide, India, Arkansas
Diamond Stones: 220, 325, 600, 1200


To Flatten and Polish Using Sandpaper Sheets Use:

Metalite® Cloth Backed Aluminum Oxide Sheets:80, 120, 180, 240, 320, 400, 600


For a Highly Reflective Finish:

Diamond Paste: 3,6,15,30 microns (4-pack)
Use diamond paste for the polishing stage. Four grit sizes are recommended to achieve an exceptional finish.


For Maintenance of Stones:

Waterproof Paper: 120
With use, water stones and oilstones develop a concave wear pattern. To reflatten, attach waterproof sandpaper to a glass plate, wet, then 'sand' the stone until flat.


Step 2 - Grinding the Bevel


Creating the grinding bevel with a grinding wheel makes sharpening easier and faster. The grinding bevel does not affect the cutting characteristics of the sharpening bevel. The angle of the grinding bevel is about 25 degrees for a plane blade and as low as 15 degrees for a chisel - there is no standard angle. Use a slow speed bench grinder with a cool-cutting wheel. The best results come from a premium, white aluminum oxide, 60 grit, soft-grade wheel - (J)  is your best choice. You control the cut rate and feed speed, so avoid heavy pressure and slow feeds, which can burn tools through over-heating. Over time, a grinding wheel begins to cut poorly and run hotter due to glazing. Expose fresh, sharp abrasive grains by removing the glaze with a wheel dresser. The restored wheel will cut faster, cooler and coarser.


To Sharpen Using Grinding Wheels

8" x 1" 60 Grit - J Grade
6" x 1" 60 Grit - J Grade
6" x 3/4" 60 Grit - J Grade


Maintenance of Wheel

Wheel Dressers, chose one of the following
Silicon Carbide Dressing Stick
Diamond Dresser with handle


Step 3 - Preparing the Sharpening Bevel

To create the sharpening bevel, you need to restore a flat face to the rounded blunt edge. Sharpening requires two grades of abrasive - both in the fine range. The first grade (4000) quickly removes the rounded edge. The second grade (8000) polishes the new flat face. Hold the blade either freehand or in a honing guide at the correct angle.


To Sharpen Using Stones, Choose From the Following Options:

Water Stones: 4000, 8000
Oil Stones: India, Arkansas


To Sharpen Using Sheets, Choose:

Metalite® Cloth Backed Aluminum Oxide Sheets: 400, 600


For Maintenance of Stones, Choose:

Waterproof Paper: 120
With use, water stones and oilstones develop a concave wear pattern. To reflatten, attach waterproof sandpaper to a glass plate, wet, then 'sand' the stone until flat.


Select From These Norton Products:


Water Stones

Water Stones  use water as a lubricant and develop a fast cutting slurry with use. Water stones will quickly sharpen or lap a fine finish into planes and chisels. They are the choice of many professionals. Because water stones wear concave with use they must be reflattened periodically with waterproof paper sandpaper attached to a glass plate.

Oil Stones

Long lasting Oil Stones  are economical and have been the standard of craftsmen for over 75 years. Oil stones will sharpen and hone a fine edge on any tool, but have limitations for polishing. Oil stones require Norton Oil to suspend metal and abrasive particles away from the stone’s cutting surface which keeps the stone free-cutting. Like water stones, oil stones required periodic flattening.

Diamond Stones

Diamond Stones are fast cutting and maintain a very flat cutting surface because diamond particles are bonded to a precise 1/4” metal plate. While more expensive diamond stones last a lifetime, never need to be reflattened, and may be used dry, they have limited polishing capabilities.

Metalite® Aluminum Oxide Sheets

Fast cutting and inexpensive, Metalite® Aluminum Oxide Sheets  are formulated to cut steel. Unlike sandpaper for woodworking, these sheets are ‘close-coated’ providing more abrasive to remove metal faster. While inexpensive, sheets wear out quickly and must be replaced often. They also have limited ability to produce a polished surface.

Diamond Pastes

Diamond pastes contain diamond particles suspended in oil. The fine micron diamond particles lap a highly reflective ‘mirror’ finish onto the back face of planes and chisels. Diamond paste is not as efficient as the above products for sharpening the cutting edge of the tool and should be used in combination with a water stone, oil stone, diamond stone or sheets for best results.

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