Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Tools and Tool Maintenance/Restoration How to avoid sharpening out of square?

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    Dave C

    Thanks to some tips in another thread, I’ve been able to use Paul’s sharpening method with some success.

    However, ever single time I use it, I end up taking the edge out of square (I’ve now done it to 4 chisels and 1 plane blade).

    The right end of the edge ends up shorter than the left (I’m left handed if that gives some hint).

    I’m sharpening on diamond plates, holding the chisels at an angle, then pushing forward and back without too much downward pressure.

    Is there something obvious I could be doing wrong? Should I artificially push down more on one side to try and counteract this?

    Also, how can I bring this edge back to square?

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Dave C.
    Joris Kempen

    Beginner also here.

    – small chisels dont need much pressure. Small even pressure

    – correct it with a honing guide with pressure on the correct side


    I do this too, but I’ve got a bit better, at least with plane blades and wider chisels.

    Restore the square edge with a honing guide. Once you’ve got that you should check your blade against your square regularly during the sharpening process, especially on the coarse stone. If you start to go slightly out then put more pressure on the higher side. With plane blades you can afford to be slightly out and correct using the lateral adjustment. With chisels it’s probably the same, if they’re very slightly out then it probably makes little difference.

    I’m still striving for perfection, but I’m not beating myself up over it if the edge is good enough to work. I still have to break the honing guide out occasionally.


    I have had the same issue, I regularly check squareness when sharpening, and move pressure to the side that has too much material by moving my fingers. After a while you will know how to apply consistent pressure. As I’m still a beginner, I’m checking squareness frequently though.

    Dave C

    Thanks all for the tips, I hadn’t thought to check for square as I went, I guess that’s obvious now!

    Anthony Greitzer

    I have this issue as well. Sometimes I don’t. I use to feel super uncomfortable with Paul’s technique and at times still do. The uncomfortableness is fading but I have yet to get a square blade every time. I’m lefty and also will put more pressure on the right corner. One thing I noticed is that if I try to push the left side of the blade forward and pull back evenly, the blade stays more square.



    Only useful advice i got came from a blacksmith. He recommends for fixing an edge going out of square, to “think” heavier on the side the needs to come down more. If you start leaning or forcing the grind you end uo with a multi facet out if square issue.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop


    It takes practice… I’d bet we’ve all been there.

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Albert Einstein

    Gary Mercer

    I think it’s a left brain ..right brain thing. Slow down, think, adjust, check, think, adjust, and just practice. The frustrating thing for me is sharpening a plane iron so out of square…even the lateral adjustment is not able to correct it.

    Ed Minch

    To repair it, mark the back of the chisel at the tip with a dark marker. Using a square, strike a line with an awl as close to the tip as possible, visible in the marker. Push the chisel straight into your grinding wheel to make a blunt edge – dousing in water frequently – until you hit the stricken line. Now grind your bevel until the blunt edge at the very tip of the tool is just a hair. This is easy to do because you cans see that the blunt edge stays even along the chisel width. Sharpen at a micro bevel to get rid of the tiny blunt edge. The advantage of this is technique when you have a bit of grinding to do is that you are less likely to burn the edge of the chisel when it does not have a sharp tip on it.


    There’s not much I consider myself an authority on, but when it comes to sharpening out of square I must be up there 🙂

    My experiences of doing this to a noteable extent were when restoring an edge on an older tool or initialising a chisel for use. The smaller chisels I found particularly difficult to keep square. I did resort to using a guide for this part of the process and it really helps. Once the tool was restored or set up for use I found it relatively easy to maintain a sharp edge, square to the tool, because it didn’t take many strokes on the plate to get there.

    You’ve already said it yourself that you need to check as you go. I think that’s particularly important when initialising or restoring because you spend quite a bit of time on that coarse stone. It’s so easy to lose focus and end up with those results. Don’t be discouraged, you’ll feel your way to what you want to get by persisting. It doesn’t take long to get there and that honing guide can really help you out in the beginning.

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