Wood Carving Chisel

Guidelines shown below are for the cutting edge angle. Since this the entirety of the blade's cutting edge is honed, no secondary / micro bevel is given (as with Bench Chisels).

The angle (α) is the effective grind angle at the chisel point. The angle measured with the Tormek WM-200 AngleMaster will be greater than α, but only by a very small amount.

The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.

Martin Luther

General Guidelines
Material α Notes
Hand Work Mallet Work
Softer woods 15° 18° - 20°
e.g., bass or tupelo
Medium woods 17 1/2°
20° - 221/2°
e.g., maple
Harder woods 20°
23° - 25°
e.g., ash or oak

Notes & Comments

Carving edges are typically not reground; only to reshape them, or repair a problem with the edge. More commonly, the edge is simply honed on the leather wheel.


Hollow grinding on the back of the bench chisels (traditional, not Japanese chisels) is recommended by some, including by Garret Hack. Two videos below show that process.


If this chisel is to have a skewed end (as shown to the left), it is recommended that α not be greater than 20°, as a more acute angle will tend to cause the chisel to drift to the side when using it. 15° is a better target for the maximum.


SE-77 Square Edge Jig

Some have mentioned that it is a bit tricky to get the alignment correct for chisels using this jig. That said, this jig is very useful for cambering plane blades, so it is useful to have if you sharpen those also.

Shorter chisels won't always work in this jig. If you have some of your grandfather's old chisels around which you want to use (other to open paint cans), consider using

  • SVS-38,
  • SVH-60, or
  • SE-77 with the MB-100 or MB-102

SE-76 Square Edge Jig

This is a great jig to use for sharpening chisels, including skewed edges. However shorter chisels won't always work in this jig. If you have some of your grandfather's old chisels around which you want to use (other to open paint cans), consider using the SVH-60.

As with the SE-76, shorter chisels won't always work in this jig. Consider using

  • SVS-38,
  • SVH-60, or
  • SE-77 with the MB-100 or MB-102

The SE-77 has replaced this jig and the SE-76 is hard to find.

SVS-38 Short Tool Jig

This jig is also useful for sharpening chisels where there is not enough length to use either of the two jigs listed above.

SVH-60 Straight Edge Jig

This is the original jig for sharpening chisels and plane blades. It is no longer being made which is unfortunate as it is really great for holding shorter chisels. If you have shorter chisels, consider getting one from the used tools market.

The SE-77 has replaced this jig and the SVH-60 is hard to find.


More Information

Books & Papers

Videos & Presentations

Published Articles


Tormek is a copyrighted logo of Tormek AB. Its presentation on this site is used to help the user quickly understand when specific Tormek tools, jigs, or setting are being used. For specific information regarding Tormek AB, or its products, please refer to the www.Tormek.com.


About this site
Remember : The goal of sharpening is to produce sharp tools, and these tools can injure you if mishandled. Safety measures should be followed to protect yourself and those in your shop. Be sure to read and follow all instructions from the manufacturer, and and utilize proper safety equipment. Never consume alcohol or anything that could impair your judgement before sharpening tools, or using sharp tools. Comments can be sent via eMail to me at SharpeningHandbook@Gmail.com.