Learning to sharpen your tools is a useful skill to have and one which we recommend you learn early on. It will save you lots of time if you're using well sharpened tools and you will get cleaner results too. Paul recommends learning to freehand sharpen, however you can use a honing guide to help you get started and until you get a feel for the angle and presentation of the tool to the sharpening surface.

We've rounded up the best of our blogs, guides and videos to help you on the road to sharpening your tools!

Click one of the options below to jump to each section:

Sharpening a Chisel

Our beginner friendly guide walks you through initialising and sharpening your chisel using diamond stones, but also shows an alternative, short- term method using abrasive paper.

Using a Honing Guide

Paul doesn’t consider these an essential tool, however he understands that some beginners may not feel comfortable…

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Setting Up and Sharpening a Chisel

Note: Be careful when sharpening as the tools will become very sharp, always face the blade away…

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You can watch Paul's Youtube video from 2017 on sharpening using diamond stones below.

How to Make a Sharpening Stones Holder

By Izzy Berger | 24 April 2019

In this guide, Paul shows you how to make a sharpening stones holder which can be clamped in the vise for ease of use. For this, you will need: Plywood Holder: Paul uses 11 ½” (292mm) x 9 ½” (241mm) x ⅞” (22mm) but thicker or thinner works fine, but not less than ½” (13mm)…

Buying Diamond Stones

By Izzy Berger | 18 April 2019

When buying diamond stones, Paul suggests getting a coarse stone between 120-400 grit (250 is best), a fine stone between 600-1000 (600 is best) and a super-fine between 1200-1500 (1200 is best). Paul recommends the 3” (76mm) x 8” (203mm) diamond stones from EZELAP, this width is so you can comfortably fit the width of…

How To Make a Strop

By Izzy Berger | 16 August 2018

For this, you will need: Leather (any processed leather will do, this can for instance be a scrap from leather clothing or a leather bag) Piece of wood or plywood 3” (76mm) wide x 10” (254mm) long (any type of wood you can spare but needs to be flat on the top face) Double sided…

Sharpening a Plane

In our beginner guide, Paul details the angles at which you should be sharpening the plane bevel. Using the same technique as sharpening a chisel, you can use a honing guide or try out freehand sharpening.

You can also watch Paul's YouTube video from 2015 on Sharpening and Setting the Bench Plane here:

Saw Sharpening

Paul has 3 different sizes of saw files. The PPI of the saw will determine how it is sharpened. For the majority, Paul will use a sawset to set the teeth and then either sharpen them to a ripcut or cross cut pattern. If the saw has a high PPI (small teeth), setting with a sawset is not an option so Paul recommends using a hammer and a nail punch. You can find out more in our 'Setting Up and Sharpening a Saw' guide.

Saw Files

By Izzy Berger | 25 April 2018

Saw files can also be known as triangular files or three-square files. They often have single cut teeth across the full width of each facet of the file and can come in many different variations including: Lengths Widths Taper Fineness (the closer the teeth are on the file, the finer it is) Double-cut/ single cut/…

Setting Up and Sharpening a Saw

By Izzy Berger | 25 April 2018

This applies to all saws except the coping saw which does not need sharpening as it comes with replacement blades, to see how to insert the blades, click here. Some saws will need setting before sharpening and some will need sharpening before setting. This all depends on the quality of the teeth to begin with.…

The following blogs from paulsellers.com provide great insight into choosing either a ripcut or crosscut pattern for your saw:

The following videos from Paul's YouTube channel might be useful too:

Sharpening a Spokeshave

Our beginner guide walks you through the steps needed to prepare your bevel down spokeshave for use, this ranges from sharpening the blade to a specific angle, reshaping the cap iron and flattening the sole of the spokeshave.

Setting Up and Sharpening a Spokeshave

By Izzy Berger | 25 April 2018

Note: Be careful when sharpening as the tools will become very sharp, always face the blade away from you when sharpening. Setting Up If your spokeshave is secondhand, check the angle of the bevelled edge using a protractor. The bevel should be no more than 30°. To set the cutting iron depth, use the two…

You might find this blog from paulsellers.com useful:

Spokeshaves Rounding Coving and Curving Versatility!

Sharpening a Woodworker's Knife

Our beginner guide demonstrates how to sharpen your Woodworker's Knife using a small paddle and a scrap piece of wood in the vise. You can buy replacement blades, however if you learn to sharpen them they will last you much longer!

Setting Up and Sharpening a Woodworker’s Knife

By Izzy Berger | 9 April 2018

Note: Be careful when sharpening as the tools will become very sharp, always face the blade away from you when sharpening. Often the knifepoint of the blade breaks off quite soon in use, this is because they are used more heavily for woodworking. As they do wear away more quickly than if they were used…

Buying a Woodworker’s Knife

By Izzy Berger | 23 March 2018

When buying a woodworker’s knife you should look for a thin, strong, flat blade. Don’t be put off by the disposable blade options as some of these can be sharpened and last up to 2 years. Paul recommends the Stanley Folding Pocket Knife model 0 10 598 and the Swann-Morton model SMO-R, which is available…

Sharpening a Gouge

In our beginner guide Paul talks you through the equipment you will need to sharpen a gouge, similar to a chisel, however you will need a two specially shaped strops.

Sharpening a Gouge

By Izzy Berger | 18 July 2018

Note: This is the sharpening process of an out-cannel gouge. Paul recommends 2 methods to sharpen an out-cannel gouge which can both be done on diamond plates or abrasive paper. You will also need a curved strop, which you can make yourself, to polish at the end of the sharpening process, for this you will…

Sharpening a Brace Bit

When buying second hand brace bits they can come in a variety of conditions, in our sharpening guide, Paul shows you what you should look for to ensure the bits can be sharpened.

Using photos, you can identify whether the spurs are in tact and what qualities they should have. This also includes advice on what to do if the pointed snail is dulled. You may find this video from Woodworking Masterclasses useful on Sharpening an Auger Bit

Setting up and Sharpening a Swing Brace and Bit

By Izzy Berger | 27 June 2018

If you have purchased your brace secondhand, ensure all the parts move freely without friction, if not you can oil these parts to ease up the friction. There is usually an oil hole where the neck connects to the pad, only one or two drops are needed. The chuck and the chuck thread may also…

Sharpening a Card Scraper

When sharpening a card scraper, you will need the diamond stones and a burnisher to develop the edge and consolidate the steel. Paul talks you through how to create a turned edge on the scraper to get great results. This same method can be used for sharpening a rounded card scraper. You may find this video of Sharpening a Card Scraper on Woodworking Masterclasses useful too.

Sharpening a Card Scraper

By Izzy Berger | 18 July 2018

Sharpening Draw file along the 2 long edges by pushing the file away from you, small steel spirals should appear from the edges as a result of the filing. Place each long edge against the diamond sharpening plate keeping it vertically aligned and push and pull it 10 times making your way through all the…

How To Make a Rounded Card Scraper

By Izzy Berger | 20 June 2018

This is known as a ‘curved’ or ‘round’ scraper and is mainly used for refining a bowl shape  carved into wood. Draw the centre line down a piece of cardstock, draw a rounded, quadrant shape on one half and cut to shape.   Fold down the centre line and follow the rounded edge using a…

Sharpening a Plough Plane

A plough plane might not be on the 'essential' tool list, however if you have one it is useful to know how to get the most from it by keeping it sharp. Similar to the chisel and plane, you can also use the honing guide for this if you are not used to freehand sharpening. As always, the strop is an optional step, but adds an extra level of refinement. See our beginner friendly guide for more information. You may find this video on setting up, sharpening and using the plough plane from Woodworking Masterclasses useful.

The Plough Plane Guide

By Izzy Berger | 1 May 2018

The plough (plow USA) plane creates channel grooves by removing material from the middle of a piece of wood, leaving two outside edges. The plane has a guide or fence, which runs along the underside or outer edge of the plane body to keep the groove parallel and the plane fully aligned to the material.…

Sharpening a #80 Scraper

Our beginners guide will show you how to sharpen the angle, use the burnisher and turn the edge. You'll also learn how to remove the unwanted burr created when sharpening. You can make a honing guide to help sharpen the angle, see Paul's Youtube video below:

Setting Up and Sharpening a #80 Scraper

By Izzy Berger | 27 June 2018

Setting Up Whilst working on a flat surface, turn the adjusters to loosen the retaining bar and load the blade into the holder. The 45 degree angle should be facing the back. Pinch the bar and blade against the body of the holder, making sure the cutting edge stays flush with the sole, and tighten…

Sharpening a Router Plane

Our beginner guide will take you through the steps needed to initialise, square and sharpen the router plane blade. This may not be an accessible tool to everyone due to the high price point, however there are plenty of alternative methods you can use that don't require a router plane.

Sharpening a Router Plane

By Izzy Berger | 18 July 2018

Setting Up Before you use your router plane, it is important to check that the leading edge of the cutting iron, the fore edge, is parallel with the actual sole of the plane as it may need to be corrected, flattened and polished before use (Paul sometimes refers to this process as initialising). This process…

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