I was reviewing the Veritas bench chisels on Lee Valley and the description says they hone the smaller chisels at 30* primary bevel, and the larger ones at 25*, then add a micro bevel of 2* on all. I’m curious why the difference?
Dunno. It’s probably something to explain an anomaly in their machining process.
Or perhaps someone…. somewhere….. sometime…..has decided that exact bevels are the way to success…
Frankly, the chisels need to be honed at the angle that suits you and your work, not someone else’s idea of orthodoxy.
If you like micro-bevels, then put on micro-bevels. If you don’t, leave ’em out!
If you sharpen by hand then you won’t be able to get the precision of exact angles and secondary bevels, but the chisel will cut just as well and you’ll save a packet of money on honing guides and save more time sharpening, too. Not to mention all that worrying about getting the angles exactly right!
The bevel angle has nothing to do with the machining process, this is addressed in the manual for the chisels, available on their bench chisel product page.
Our bench chisels less than 1/2″ wide have a primary bevel of 30°, with a micro-bevel of 32°; they generally require a steeper bevel angle because the narrower blade edge is subject to more concentration of force when driven by a mallet. Chisels 1/2″ and wider have a primary bevel of 25°, with a micro-bevel of 27°, delivering a good balance between edge retention and cutting action.
The bevel angle can (and should) be changed to suit the type of work being done and the wood being worked. Work that is predominantly mallet driven may require a higher bevel angle, while careful paring work may benefit from lower bevel angles. In most cases, opting for the lowest possible primary bevel and adjusting the cutting characteristics by changing the micro-bevel give the best results for the least amount of effort.
I think I get it now. I’ve watched Paul Sellers’ video on sharpening, and have been using his method most of my time. As far as I remember, he just says to use 25*, and maybe add a little roll when sharpening to round bevel up a little.
With the Veritas chisels, it was the first time I’ve seen mention of a 30* bevel specifically on the narrower chisels to overcome the extra force.
The higher recommended angle is likely to preserve the edge. The narrower the chisel the greater the force is on the edge when the chisel is struck. A 1/4″ chisel has 4 times the force on the edge as a 1″ chisel assuming the same power of striking it.
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