Dickey Guitars
In the handmade tradition. One at a time.  Just for you.
Chisels - Sharpening and Tuneup
Sharp chisels and other cutting edges are important
to the luthier.  Here is something I learned to keep
them in top shape.  First I met a young violinmaker in
Wolfe City Texas who showed me
how to sharpen
gouges using water, a piece of plate glass, and
some wet/dry sandpape
r in increasingly finer grits.
I then learned to use a leather strop,
clamped to a workbench
coupled with white
rouge,
to put the final finish and sharp on my
chisels.  This final portion of the sharpening
process is shown here.
Procedure for getting sharp chisels:

Slice a 4 by 12 inch slab of 1/4" thick leather from a cowhide.  Clamp to the workbench via a
Klemmsia. Then I pulled out the Dico White Rouge picked up at my local Ace Hardware. You have to
peel back the paper and it is similar to a big one inch crayon in a tube, about six inches long.

I rubbed the rouge on the leather, just kind of smeared it on two inches wide and about six inches
long on the smooth side of the leather. Strokes of the chisel must be along it's length away from the
cutting edge. Flat side first, then flip and do the angled bevel of the chisel.

In only a few minutes it was perfect and would shave hairs from your arm. All you had to do is touch it
with your fingertip and you knew it was sharp. It easily sliced into the leather if you happened to slip
sideways.

I love white rouge and leather. My chisels will never be the same.

I got a cranked (dog leg) chisel from Lee Valley and also recently two Chech chisels from Highland
and they all are wonderful chisels now.  The blue handle is a Marples.
Dico White Rouge available
at Ace Hardware Stores.
This picture clearly shows the sharpness by the shine. Notice the two Narex Chech chisels on the left.
One reflects, one does not. The second from the left is the unsharpened one,
the other three all
show degrees of shine indicating their sharpness.
You would not believe the difference, but
trying it will make you a believer.
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