Measuring Bevel Angles – what do you use?

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    Hi All,

    To date all the sharpening that I’ve done (and that’s not very much if I’m honest) has been by eye/touch – usually by referencing the existing bevel, or using a similar edge e.g. comparing two chisels. I appreciate that this isn’t very scientific and might just mean I’m copying an incorrect angle.

    In some of the threads I’ve read there has been talk of fairly precise angles for sharpening.  I was wondering what people used to measure these angles.  I think I’d like to create myself some kind of quick reference solution whereby I can measure the angle I’m putting on a edge very easily.  I’m also thinking that I might make myself one or two of the ‘overhead’ sharpening guides that Paul mentions in his book.

    Your thoughts and ideas would be very welcome.


    Yorkshireman currently living in Hampshire


    Hi jon,

    I measure my angles with a simple protractor, these are not expensive and easy to find on the internet.

    Lopik - Netherlands


    Hi jon,

    I keep it simple for my self and use a jig. Once I have set the angle, I make a stop block, like shown on Lie-Nielsens site. Then I can repeat the same angle time and time again.

    Free hand or jig, I don’t think it really matters, as long as you are happy with the system you are using.

    Ken 😉


    The exact angles are not that critical from what I’ve picked up, but as Ken says the important thing to get a smooth process is repeatability. If you don’t have a secure method to work the same angle from session to session you are going to remove more metal than necessary and that takes more time as well.

    I’m currently in the process of switching from using the Veritas registration guide to stop blocks. I hope that this will make it easier and more accurate to hone my irons and chisels.

    Located in Jönköping, Sweden.

    Ron Harper

    I really do not believe that it matters whether you are at 25 degrees or 27. It is good to be consistent.  I like my paring chisels to be around 20. With Paul’s method, I am trying to train my hands to start at 30 and push forward and drop the hands With all chisels and planes except paring chisels. Takes some muscle memory training, but should happen quickly.


    I use a protractor or square whenever setting angles and a quick guide can be made via protractor and sliding bevel, then create a constant guide in timber or ply.

    Grind angle guides can typically be found stamped/engraved on the cap iron/chip breaker on most bevel up planes. 🙂  Muscle memory soon kicks in with practise, but – while there’s no real need for engineering accuracy – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with periodically checking for ball park accuracy.  One person’s ideal honing/whetting angle can be another’s pet hate and visa versa. 🙂

    Rough guides

    Paring = 20 – 25 deg

    Grind = 25 – 30 deg

    Hone = 25 – 35 deg

    A pretty broad range of angles with overlap between grind and honing/whetting angles.  All depend on materials, tool type and the work to which any given tool is being applied.  😉



    Charles Cleland

    I gently slide the edge of the blade into a sliding bevel that is loose and at a lower angle than what I think the tool is.  If you gently slide the tool (with the back referenced on the square edge obviously) until it opens the bevel far enough to touch the edge and then tighten the bevel it’s easy enough to reference a protractor ( I printed out a paper one and glued it to my shooting board, with the base line on the square front edge of the board.  This makes it easy to read an angle, or set one if I’m doing a different task.)

    Washington State, USA
    My own humble blog:

    Gary Hodgin

    I use either a protractor or a Veritas bevel gauge, whichever one I can find first.  I try to keep the bevel gauge with my other sharpening stuff but that doesn’t always happen.

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