General Information on Sharpening Woodworking Bench Tools


Typical Grinding Media Used
  • SB-250 Original Grindstone, graded course
  • DC-250 Diamond Wheel Course
  • 60 grit ProEdge Zirconium Belt
  • CBN wheel : <100 grit
  • Very friable grindstone : 80 - 100 grit
  • Sandpaper : <100 grit

Shaping the Tool - Woodworking bench tools are typically only (re)shaped once in their lifetime. And that happens when the woodworker gets the tool from the manufacturer, and adjusts it to their own preferences.


Typical Grinding Media Used
  • SB-250 Black Grindstone, graded fine
  • DE-250 Diamond Wheel Extra Fine
  • DF-250 Diamond Wheel Fine
  • 120 grit ProEdge Zirconium Belt
  • Pedia ProEdge Diamond Belt
  • 600 grit ProEdge Trizact Belt
  • 1,200 grit ProEdge Trizact Belt
  • CBN wheel : 150-180 grit
  • Very friable grindstone : 150 - 180 grit
  • Sandpaper : 150 - 250 grit

Sharpening the Tool - Woodworking bench tools should be resharpened often. Softer woods like cedar don't require that the tool is resharpening as often; but harder woods definitely necessitate the need to be resharpened often. Mallet work can shorten the time between sharpenings even more.

And of course, the tool must be resharpened whenever the woodworker drops the tool (after bandaging their foot of course).


Typical Grinding Media Used
  • SJ-250 Japanese Waterstone
  • 3,000 grit ProEdge Trizact Belt
  • Japanese Waterstone : 4,000+ grit

Honing the Tool - Some woodworkers combine honing and stropping together; this can certainly be done on marking knives. But, for chisels or plane blades, these are two separate steps.


Typical Grinding Media Used
  • Leather honing wheel with a honing compound
  • Paper wheel with a honing compound or diamond honing paste
  • Leather strop (e.g., horse butt leather) with a honing compound
  • Medium density fibreboard (MDF) shaped for the tool's edge, and using a honing compound or diamond paste

Stropping the Tool - Some woodworkers choose not to strop their tools. There was a great debate on Fine Woodworking's podcast #178 about this. Bob Van Dyke advocated it whilst Mike Pekovich seemed to pooh poohed it.

My experience has been that stropping is especially useful when using the SJ-250 Japanese Waterstone for honing. I do not have finer stones (e.g., 12,000 grit Japanese waterstones), so stropping seems to cover that gap for me.