5 Fantastic Sharpening Tips and Techniques

Maker News

When it comes down to it, a lot of being good at a discipline is simply putting in enough time to know your way around all of the physical processes involved and in knowing a few key tips and techniques that are too frequently overlooked. In soldering, for example, besides getting a lot of practice, the key to being good is knowing that you always need to keep the tip of your iron clean and hot. These two simple things make all of the difference in the world.

With any tool that requires an edge, keeping that edge as sharp as possible is often the key to success. Far too many people work away, often in frustration, with a dull-edged razor knife, chisel blade, knife, or scissors. A sharp edge not only makes the work easier and more precise, it’s also safer. Watch any true pro at work and they will almost always take the time to sharpen their tools before they start.

Here are some of our favorite posts on Make: about tool sharpening:

How-To: Sharpen a Chisel (When You’re Serious About It)

In this excellent how-to, Instructable member, um… and Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass, shows you, step-by-step, how to give some extra TLC to a Stanley Model 40 chisel. A sharp chisel makes all of the difference in the world and taking the time to properly hone yours makes it all possible.

How to Tune Planes and Chisels

tuningPlanesMake: contributor and Japanese-style woodworker, Len Cullum, shows you how to take apart, sharpen, and maintain a wood plane.

How to Sharpen a Knife

knives-3Custom knife forger, Bob Kramer, shows you how to properly sharpen a knife, whether it’s a knife you use in the kitchen, your shop, or your tackle box.

Nifty Drill Bit Sharpening Trick

Use two hex headed bolts and nuts and mount them in a piece of off-cut steel or timber so that two of their edges are touching (as shown). After sharpening your drill bit carefully on a bench grinder, remove the bit and test against the two hex headed bolts as shown in the image. You also need to ensure that the bit being sharpened remains perpendicular to the shanks of the bolts to make sure the cutting edges of the bit are properly angled.

Use a Ceramic Mug as a Sharpening Stone

If you find yourself in need of sharpening a utility knife, pocket blade, or scissors and don’t have access to a sharpening stone, you can flip over a ceramic coffee mug and use the outer edge of the bottom (the non-glazed part) as an emergency sharpening stone. [From 5 Indispensable Shop Hacks]


See What Happens When You Sharpen a Knife Under a Microscope

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.