What Type of Sharpening Stone Do You Need for Chisels?

Believe it or not, there are 23 different types of chisels. They can range from small handheld chisels for fine detail work to large tools that can remove big chunks of wood. That means you will probably need more than one type of sharpening stone for your chisels.

The type of sharpening stone you need for chisels depends on your chisels. Because there are so many types of chisels, you may need more than one type of sharpening stone. But the most common include these three:

  • Diamond Stones
  • Oilstones
  • Waterstones

Each of these types of sharpening stones has its own important features, so you may need more than one if you have a large selection of chisels. Keep reading to learn about the types of chisels and sharpening stones to choose from and determine which is right for your needs.

Before Sharpening, Know What Type of Chisels You Are Using

Depending on how much woodworking and what kind of woodworking you do, you may have a whole toolbox of chisels. Or you may just have one or two chisels that you use all the time.

When woodworking, you will most often start with a large tool and work your way down to a small one.

The type of chisel you have impacts what type of edge it has – and what type of edge you want to preserve and sharpen up.

Firmer Chisel This is one of the oldest and most reliable basic chisels. It is mostly used for heavy woodworking jobs and has a cross-sectional pattern on the blade. These chisels are good for creating sharp 90-degree corners.
Bevel Edge Chisel The bevel edge is the most common carpentry chisel. There is a beveled edge on one side and a flat or straight edge on the other. This is so you can make dovetail joints.
Bench Chisel A bench chisel has a short five-inch blade with a short handle to match. They are often used in joinery, paring, trimming, and chopping, as you would do in cabinet and furniture making.
Mortise Chisel When you need a heavy-duty chisel to make mortise joints, this is your go-to tool. The blade is thick, and it has a strong hardwood handle with a metal cap to withstand heavy mallet pounding.
Paring Chisel Sort of like a paring knife, the paring chisel is used for small detail work. They are long and thin with beveled sides. The blade is sharpened to 20 degrees for a smooth cut when fitting joints.
Butt Chisel With a thick and short blade, the butt chisel comes in both a bevel- and straight-edged type. These strong chisels are used for installing hinges and making butts.
Dovetail Chisel Used for making dovetail joints, these have a long and beveled blade that is sharpened to about 25 degrees. This one is perfect for sharpening the parts of a dovetail joint with its long thin blade.
Corner Chisel This one has a V-shaped blade, so it can be used to make deep corners in cabinetry and clean out square corners. The blade is about eight inches long and is popular with carpenters who design cabinets.
Skew Chisel One of the most needed chisels is the skew chisel. The long blade is beveled with an angled tip. The point (toe) is sharp and used for digging in wood. These are also used for smoothing, beading, tapering, and v-cuts.
Carving Chisel Whether you need a curved blade with a straight gouge or vice versa, the carving chisel comes in both types. They are used for detailed and complicated woodworking.

Once you identify the type of chisel you’ve got, you can determine what type of sharpening stone is best used for each one.

Find the Right Type of Sharpening Stone

While some can be sharpened with any of the different stones, there are a few that have specific needs.

Each type of sharpening stone has its pros and cons as well. You have to make the decision on how much money you want to spend on your sharpening stone first. If you are a professional carpenter, you probably want to get the best your money can buy since it pays for itself in the long run.

Water Stones

Water stones sharpen quickly due to their softness. And they typically come in courser grits than others. These are good for both flattening and sharpening a bevel. But they have to be soaked in water before using. Those chisels that need a more precise point can also be sharpened with a water stone.

You can sharpen all of the different types of chisels with water stones.

However, they should not be used as often for heavy-duty chisels due to their softness. The best chisels to sharpen with water stones are:

  • Bench chisels
  • Bevel edge chisels
  • Paring chisels
  • Dovetail chisels
  • Corner chisels
  • Curved chisels

When working on the heavier chisels, you will have to flatten your water stone more often.


Oilstones are available in both natural and manmade versions and have all different grits to choose from. Manmade oilstones are aluminum oxide or silicon carbide, while the natural oilstone is made from novaculite. Natural stones have a finer grit than manmade stones.

Some benefits to using oilstones:

  • They are not as soft as water stones, so you can sharpen any type of chisel with this stone.
  • It’s very affordable.
  • It stays flat longer.

Just as the name implies, you have to use oil when sharpening your chisel with an oilstone.

Diamond Stones

Diamond stones are typically used when flattening your chisels, but they can be used for details, bevels, and polishing as well. In fact, you can also use diamond stone to flatten your other stones.

The best thing about diamond stones is that they stay flat, so you do not have to worry about flattening out any gouges made by sharpening your chisels.

These stones start at 220 grit, which is good for flattening the back of your chisels. Any chisel with a flat back can be sharpened with a diamond stone, but they are also excellent to use on all types of chisels.

The most common drawback of diamond stones is their cost. They are significantly more expensive than the other two types of sharpening stones. But they do pay for themselves in the long run if you use your chisels often for work or as a hobby.

Pro Tip: When Sharpening a Chisel, Use the Whole Stone

The best way to sharpen your chisel is to use the entire stone. This is especially important when using a water stone or an oilstone. Otherwise, you are going to end up with a huge dip in the middle of your stone that you will have to use your diamond stone to flatten.

Some Chisels Require a Bench Grinder for Sharpening

A bench grinder, also known as a grinding wheel, is used for fixing nicks or other imperfections in your heavy-duty chisels like the mortise or firmer chisel. There are two main steps in sharpening a chisel on a grinder.

  • First, square the cutting edge by pointing the top surface along the radius of the wheel with the edge about an eighth of an inch away. Gently slide the chisel back and forth.
  • Next, you can match the original bevel by using a bevel gauge to set the chisel at the right angle. Use water or oil when needed.
  • Once that is done, you can use your favorite sharpening stone to hone the blade. You can also use your bench grinder to flatten out any nicks or chips in your diamond stone.

After using the bench grinder, you’ll want to hone the chisel with a honing stone or sandpaper with a high grit count for the finishing touch.


Choose your sharpening stone based on what type of chisel you have and what stones work best for what you are trying to achieve. Oftentimes, you may need to use more than one type of stone- and sometimes, a bench grinder may come into play.

If you like this article please leave a comment and check out my instagram account here. I try and minimize advertising on this website by selling silicone mats.

Our Products:

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published