A Pro Tool Sharpening Guide

Tips and gear for keeping your tools at their sharpest.

Sharpening a chainsaw blade with a Dremel kit

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Sharpening chain saw teeth

Using a file to sharpen chain saw teeth that are completely rounded off takes a long time. With the Dremel chain saw sharpening kit it'll take only a few minutes to restore the entire chain to that wonderful state where huge chips are flying out the chute. Just place the proper diameter grinding stones from the kit into your Dremel and then visually match up the angle marks on the metal bar with the angle of the teeth. The kit comes with an angle gauge and stones to fit the most common tooth sizes.

Sharpening a chisel on a bench grinder

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New angles on tool sharpening

Here's a better way to hold tools securely while you're grinding them—and take the guesswork out of creating the right bevel angle. It's a short piece of 2x4 with an angled end and a 1-1/4-in. hole for a clamp. We made one for chisels and plane blades, and a few more with different angles for wood-turning tools. Large labels with the tool's name tell you which blocks are for which tools.

automated chisel sharpening machinevia Amazon

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Super-simple chisel sharpener

Most woodworkers rely on sharp chisels and planes for their livelihood. A pro-favorite sharpening device is the WorkSharp system. It sharpens chisels and plane blades quickly with no mess. The best part is that you don't need any practice to get a razor-sharp edge. The WS3000 is available at home centers and online.

Sharpen an axe with a sharpening stone

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Axes: file and hone

Not all axes have the same blade bevel, so when they're resharpened it's important to follow the lines of the original bevel. Inspect the ax blade for any chips or nicks. If you find some nicks, grind them away. Make sure to sharpen the whole edge to preserve the shape of the blade. You should also be careful not to burn the edge.

Sharpening a shovel

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Sharpen shovels with a file

Sharpening a shovel is one of those things most people don't think to do very often. But, once your shovel is sharp, the task of digging almost becomes fun. Along with sliding easily through soil, it'll cut right through stubborn roots and sod. In most cases, you'll only need a file to sharpen a shovel, but if the edge has some chips or deep nicks, use a grinder first to reshape the edge.

Sharpen a scraper on a drill

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Merry-go-sharpening

Here's a fast, safe and easy way to rough-sharpen smaller shop tools like paint and glue scrapers. First, buy a sanding disc kit for your drill. The kit will include a rubber disc and several sanding discs in various grits. Carefully clamp the drill in a vise without bending or distorting the drill's housing, then run the disc at low speed. Hold the blade so the disc rotates away from, not into, the blade so it won't cut into the disc. Move the blade from side to side, working near the outer edge of the disc for greatest control. Use coarser grits to restore nicked edges and finer grits for touch-up sharpening.

Sharpening an axe on a belt sander

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Belt sander as a tool sharpener?

Larger tools like axes, shovels and other gardening tools are easy to sharpen on a belt sander. To keep the belt sander stationary as you press the tool against the belt, clamp the sander in a vise or to a worktable. Then:

Sharpen a spade bit with a file

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How to keep your spade bits sharp

Spade bits work great for drilling rough holes through rough material, but they take a lot of abuse in the process. Luckily, a spade bit doesn't have to be sharpened with precision in order to work better. A few strokes along the bottom with a file and you're back in business.

Sharpening a router bit on a diamond paddle

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Tune up carbide router bits with a diamond paddle

Chipped or severely dulled carbide router bits require professional sharpening, but if the edge is slightly dulled it can be restored with a diamond paddle.