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The basic idea behind sharpening tools is to remove metal to restore the cutting edge tools need to operate properly. After months or years of use, all tools will dull. Sharpening is a way to restore the tool, so you do not have to purchase a new one. Of course, there are different stones and files needed to sharpen different tools. If you purchase one or two different types of stone sharpeners and a file sharpener, you should be able to sharpen most household tools by hand.


There are four basic steps to sharpening tools by hand: grinding, honing, burr removal, and stropping. Stone sharpening works well for many tools including chisels, axes, hatchets, knives, scissors, and gouges. Here are the basic steps:


Grinding is the motion that turns a square-sided tool into a bevel-edged tool. Most tools will already have the edge unless its severely worn. If so, pull the edge across a coarse, flat stone five or six times.


Honing is the further step beyond grinding. If you lift the tool just 5 percent off the surface, it will sharpen the edge even further. You will also do this on a stone, preferably an abrasive stone. Putting a few drops of oil on the stone first helps hone down the stone.

Burr Removal

Burr removal is simply doing honing on the other side of the tool to make it even. Follow the same steps, then hold the blade to the light to see if it is an even sharpness on both sides.


Stropping will just polish the blade enough to put a nice, sharp finish on it. Just drag the blade along a piece of leather. Make sure you drag it the same way each time.


If you use your tools regularly, you might want to think about a bench grinder. It will do the same thing as stone but with less time and energy. A bench grinder is a power tool that sharpens, cleans, and polishes tools. The concept is the same as hand sharpening, making your tools last longer. A bench grinder works by spinning a wheel about 3,450 revolutions per minute against the tool you choose.

All you have to do is place the tool you want to sharpen on the tool rest and hold it against the wheel. You will want to pull down the spark guard and the eye shield and then turn the grinder on. The machine will sharpen quickly, so you will want to stop frequently to check your work. When you are checking your work, be aware of the heat. Metal will heat quickly against the wheel. You might want to cool it in water before touching it.