Adam Savage's Favorite Tools: Woodworking Chisel Sharpening!

Adam Savage's Favorite Tools: Woodworking Chisel Sharpening!

Japanese woodworking chisels: https://amzn.to/3l2BqO3
Irwin chisel set: https://amzn.to/3bqt7Zk
Mytec chisel sharpening jig: https://amzn.to/3t2wrjo
Ohishi Japanese waterstone/grindstone: https://amzn.to/3sUNfZw

Adam opens up his chisel drawer to talk about his collection of woodworking chisels and planes, and why his go-to chisel isn’t the most expensive one in his shop. A chisel is only as good as how well its sharpened, and Adam demonstrates his process for sharpening a basic chisel using his favorite Japanese waterstone and sharpener guide jig. What are your favorite techniques for sharpening woodworking tools?

(Note: This video was inspired by suggestions that Testedcom members Danny Rushton,
Julian Hughes and DeepTinker made. We thank them for their support and input!)

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50 Comments

  1. QD DK on February 20, 2023 at 5:25 am

    Sorry but there are much better chisel sharpening videos out there. That explain sharpening angels, and how to get them easily.



  2. Brian C on February 20, 2023 at 5:25 am

    Really wanted to see how well "japanese" one cuts.



  3. Jenya Mosk on February 20, 2023 at 5:27 am

    it’s the worst sharpening video i ever see. the lack of basic knowledge in tools and sharpening technique is amazing…..the handicap way of jig setup….the wrong angle…oil on water stone….you need to soak the stone in water and not squirts of oil …..maintaining flat stone…. ohhh and the pretentious metallurgy ideas just because you didn’t sharp till the edge…the wood was broken and not shaved…. this video is savage on so many levels…



  4. Braden Sinclair on February 20, 2023 at 5:28 am

    Almost passed out when I realised he was putting oil on his Japanese Waterstone 😥



  5. Irish Ninja on February 20, 2023 at 5:28 am

    You should strop it with leather and get that bur off the flat side. I wouldnt even touch the flat to anything other than leather.



  6. Hard Korph on February 20, 2023 at 5:32 am

    As a metalworker i use these rarely but am surprised of how well they are made.

    We only have the cheap ones which are needed for the most trivial work like getting stickers off or deburring.

    Yet still i experience a whole different level of finesse with these things compared to our other tools.



  7. Ron F. on February 20, 2023 at 5:33 am

    You’re a hoot, Adam! Thanx!



  8. Russell Simon on February 20, 2023 at 5:33 am

    A water stone needs to be wet with water, all you did was destroy the stone and over heat the tool, I doubt the 3000 stone made the tool any sharper. Save some time and leave the water stones in a bucket of water when not using them or just get some DMT diamond stones



  9. Kevin LaBanca on February 20, 2023 at 5:36 am

    Adam, I doubt you’ll see this, but I’ve been a sharpening fanatic for 20 years and I’d love to help bring the signal to noise ratio down to something more manageable for you. Given the countless hours of education and entertainment you’ve provided, it’s the least I could do. Please feel free to reach out to me and I’d be happy to distill what I know to something that you’d find helpful! You could reach me at my name as one word @gmail.com



  10. KarRawr on February 20, 2023 at 5:37 am

    Ooh I love that sharpening tool!



  11. mlune666 on February 20, 2023 at 5:38 am

    You do know that the bevel angle is set by a specific distance to the jig and that the distance is normally stamped on the side of jig.



  12. Zyx on February 20, 2023 at 5:38 am

    Any Japanese whetstone = Use water. Once oil is used, you’re pretty much out of luck bringing it back. Also it’s really important to keep the stone flat too.

    I bet you could use water on any stone, but def not oil. Only use oil on stones that recommend or explicit tells you to use oil (Mainly western type whetstones and Arkansas stones.)



  13. wrorchestra1 on February 20, 2023 at 5:39 am

    The cutout image of Adam on the right of the video is somehow disturbing



  14. Gypsy Dildo punks on February 20, 2023 at 5:39 am

    For the love of God, get to the point man! This video could have been 3-4 min.



  15. Plato’s Rave on February 20, 2023 at 5:41 am

    Shouldn’t he also be sharpening the secondary bevel?



  16. Nicoya on February 20, 2023 at 5:42 am

    Watching Adam dump a bunch of honing oil on a water stone pained me, and I’m not even a sharpening nerd. And good heavens the demo at the end, that is not a well sharpened chisel. Sorry, Adam.

    For those coming to this video looking for good sharpening advice:

    1: The flatness of the bevel, and even its precise angle, doesn’t matter. The flatness of the back matters a lot, and you should do your best to get it flat everywhere it matters (a hollow in the middle doesn’t matter, just make sure it’s flat where it’ll contact a work piece).

    2: Sharpen the bevel so it forms a nice perpendicular edge across the width of the chisel and pushes a burr onto the back of the chisel, and then give the back a little love (flat on the stone) so the burr falls off.

    3: Every step after this is not so much sharpening as it is polishing. Use finer grits of oil stones, water stones, or sandpaper on glass. I personally do the sharpening on a cheap diamond plate and then skip right over to some 2000 grit sandpaper, using honing oil on both to keep them from packing up with swarf. Finish off by using some of that green waxy shit on a piece of leather, aka stropping: hit it on the bevel and the back until it shines like a mirror. The polishing/stropping steps shouldn’t take more than a minute or two each, if you”re taking longer than that you probably need to insert an intermediate grit.

    That’s all you really need to know. Follow those steps and you’ll have a chisel that’s sharp enough to practically fall through end grain under its own weight. And no, for the most part, the quality of the chisel doesn’t really matter all that much. There’s differences, and they’re noticeable, but for the most part you’re best served by just taking care of the iron you’ve got.



  17. VinlandAlchemist on February 20, 2023 at 5:43 am

    OIL ON A JAPANESE WATER STONE!! GAAAAAAAH!! LOL



  18. Patrick Doyle on February 20, 2023 at 5:45 am

    16:15 – am I the only one who finds the other Adam on the right a little unsettling?



  19. Jimmy Pickett on February 20, 2023 at 5:45 am

    You might want a 2 wheeled sharpener!



  20. Rijl Qanturis on February 20, 2023 at 5:50 am

    Him putting oil on a water stone made me cringe so hard. I find it hard to believe he watched a bunch of videos and learned nothing about water stones. You don’t use oil. You use water. Hence the name.



  21. Mitch Johnson on February 20, 2023 at 5:53 am

    Stanley FatMax makes a nice full tang chisel with a metal striking cap on the end.



  22. Joe R on February 20, 2023 at 5:53 am

    Really good straight woodworking chisels in a 1" start at $100 & can easily go for over $1000.



  23. ericUtr on February 20, 2023 at 5:53 am

    Adam, you forget one very important thing: your stones are not flat. THis is probably why the corners of your edge are not square. Use water instead of oil, and get a diamond plate to flatten your stone after it has soaked. Flatten it often, i.e. inbetween sets of strokes, and your result will be much better.



  24. father of Dragons on February 20, 2023 at 5:55 am

    Which one should you get? Both! Get a complete set of both. One for wood that may have nails 😩 the other for getting out the box every now and then to touch, caress and then, ultimately, straight back in the box and grabbing the Cheap set lol



  25. The Savage Atheist on February 20, 2023 at 6:00 am

    For anyone new to chisel and want their first set. I always HIGHLY recommend the Irwin Marples chisel set. You get 3 very good chisels, a hardwood mallet, and case, for around (if I remember correctly) 30 bucks. They will last and are very well made with quality steel. A definite set that everyone should own.



  26. Adam Savage’s Tested on February 20, 2023 at 6:03 am

    Japanese woodworking chisels: https://amzn.to/3l2BqO3
    Irwin chisel set: https://amzn.to/3bqt7Zk
    Mytec chisel sharpening jig: https://amzn.to/3t2wrjo
    Ohishi Japanese waterstone/grindstone: https://amzn.to/3sUNfZw

    Join this channel to support Tested and get access to perks:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiDJtJKMICpb9B1qf7qjEOA/join
    Disclaimer: Tested may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through the links here.



  27. dead rabbit on February 20, 2023 at 6:05 am

    You sir have what my wife calls working man hands. Also you sir are a savage.



  28. oldbab on February 20, 2023 at 6:05 am

    That sharpening oil is good for the scalp, too? Makes hair grow?



  29. garliccharge on February 20, 2023 at 6:08 am

    Did anyone else notice the ‘extra’ Adam appear 16:12?



  30. James Deering on February 20, 2023 at 6:08 am

    Thank you. This was an amazing help. That jig is pretty sweet. I’m sure harbor has something similar.



  31. CanMan on February 20, 2023 at 6:08 am

    Quick tip. There are videos out there on how to make a quick chisel setup jig so you can set your chisel to the same desired sharpening angle every time.



  32. PedroVa on February 20, 2023 at 6:08 am

    One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s not necessary – or even desirable – to sharpen all cutting tools to the point of polish (4000, 6000, 8000 grit. etc.). Only those that are used in fine termination, always with bare hands, gentle force. On roughing tools (say, a 3/4, 1 inch gouge or chisel, long handled and hammered (or used hard)), honing with 800-1000 grit is fine, the edge is a bit more rough and "grips" better on the fibers (also, they keep the edge a little longer in hard work/hard woods)
    (same with kitchen /utility knives; you don´t need your butcher/deba knife with shiny polished edge)



  33. David Kennaugh on February 20, 2023 at 6:09 am

    The old carpenter way is two bevels, saves a lot of unnecessary work when touching up



  34. ChiefyAero on February 20, 2023 at 6:10 am

    14:45 Did Adam mention Kiwami Japan the knife maker? or is there someone else who does the same



  35. Irish Ninja on February 20, 2023 at 6:11 am

    Also those are not hamon lines unfortunately. Those lines that arc across and make that color difference is a product of sharping the entire width of the blade at once. The corners sharpen faster than the center of the blade. I cant remember the exact reason for this but, there is another knife YT that has a video on this. It may have been Burrfection but I cant remember. You need to do the edge in sections where one edge hangs off the edge of the stone and then do the other side. You can even do an ‘x’ type pattern with the edge of the chisel perpendicular to the line running from corner to corner that makes the ‘x’ Start with the corner of the chisel slightly hanging off and then run it all the way off the other corner then repeat the same number of strokes from the other side ( i hope that makes sense) Keeping track of the number of strokes is key and dont use too much pressure that will cause your thinner edge to wear away faster than you want and will change your geometry.



  36. cranky1964 on February 20, 2023 at 6:12 am

    Gotta love people that don’t actually know how to use a tool, teaching people how to use the said tool, on Youtube. Adam, that edge you are "looking for" is where most woodworkers start sharpening.



  37. Mike P on February 20, 2023 at 6:12 am

    Don’t forget to flatten the back.



  38. Johny Ludvigsson on February 20, 2023 at 6:13 am

    Raptor videos?



  39. Joe Medley on February 20, 2023 at 6:13 am

    I’ve heard wood wizard Marc Spagnola say he keeps 2 classes of chisel on hand.



  40. Christian Patton on February 20, 2023 at 6:13 am

    Not a huge fan of this method since it causes your stones to ‘dish-out’ rather quickly. There are a number of ways around that.



  41. Jess ric on February 20, 2023 at 6:15 am

    That’s a really low pitch



  42. A G on February 20, 2023 at 6:16 am

    You definitely want to apply more pressure pulling towards you—scraping metal towards the end of the chisel. The idea here is you will scrape metal off the edge at a uniform angle. Then you will flip the chisel over, and hold the last half inch or so flat against the stone. Gently scrape again so that metal is scraping off the end—pulling towards you. This time you may want to add a slight left-right motion.

    This removes the metal that is now hanging *over* the edge from scraping the other side—also called a burr. Lower grit stones remove material faster, but they also scratch deeper into the surface. By repeating the process on higher and higher grit stones, you leave smaller and smaller micro grooves and channels that run perpendicular _through_ your newly sharpened edge. Therefore, Japanese sushi knives sharpened with stones up to 10,000 grit cut through fish meat so easily that it preserves the cell wall and leaves a smooth, glossy edge behind; a well sharpened chisel should have a similar effect! Ideally, your “nice” chisel should leave smooth, glossy wooden surface in its trail.

    By scraping back and forth, you are essentially creating a burr one way, and removing whatever you created on the reverse. Does it work? Sure, probably better than just dulling a chisel and accumulating nicks and chips for years and years. But you are shearing *against* the grain pattern you just created. You’re ripping metal out of the edge rather than scraping it off



  43. John lastname on February 20, 2023 at 6:19 am

    Adam love ya buddy your so like the rest of us



  44. Glenn Riefenstahl on February 20, 2023 at 6:19 am

    What about the burr that may form on the backside of the chisel after sharpening the bevel?



  45. matt moore on February 20, 2023 at 6:20 am

    its just about degrees, sharp is true



  46. Jorge Luis Garcia on February 20, 2023 at 6:20 am

    Did you deburr the chisel?



  47. charlie9ine on February 20, 2023 at 6:20 am

    You’re spending more time adjusting the tool than you are sharpening. Your uncle is right.



  48. Joe R on February 20, 2023 at 6:21 am

    Adam, you should soak your water stone in water for 5-20 minutes before use & then keep it wet with water while using it. A quick way to establish the proper placement of your honing guide is build a small jig that has a front edge & blocks at different distances from the edge to match the stick out needed for the angle your chisels.



  49. Great is the World on February 20, 2023 at 6:21 am

    So true about the signal to noise ratio in sharpening! The most important thing is consistency. I once worked with a Mexican who sharpened his chisels on the bottom of a coffee cup with jewelry polish and they were somehow *space-grade immaculate*.

    Also, Jesus, pretty sure Adam is moving that chisel too fast on that stone 😬



  50. Kim Harris on February 20, 2023 at 6:23 am

    parallelalism