Scary Sharp System – The Ultimate Guide to Sharpening Chisels and Plane Blades

scary sharp system

Sharpening your woodworking tools might seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the craft. However, with the right technique and a bit of practice, you can achieve incredibly sharp edges that make your woodworking projects easier and more enjoyable. One popular method, known for its efficiency, affordability, and razor-edge finish is the Scary Sharp system. This guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of sharpening your wood chisel and plane blades to razor-like precision in record time.

What is the Scary Sharp System?

The Scary Sharp system employs a simple concept: using progressively finer grits of micro-finishing films to sharpen and hone the edges of your tools. Unlike traditional sharpening stones or machines, the Scary Sharp method is accessible, cost-effective, and requires minimal setup. All you need are micro-finishing films of various grits, a solid flat surface, and a little bit of composure.

Materials You’ll Need:

Step-by-Step Guide:

scary sharp system

Step 1: Preparing Your Sharpening Station

Place your float glass on a leather mat to support it and keep it in place on the work surface to ensure you have a stable position to work on. Float glass is usually preferred due to its inherent flatness. Cut your micro-finishing paper to fit the surface, and apply evenly to secure it in place using the PSA backing. Ensure there are no bubbles or wrinkles in the micro-finishing films, as these can affect the sharpening accuracy. You can use a roller to help with this process.

Step 2: Establishing the Bevel

If you’re working with a new tool or repairing a damaged edge, start with your coarsest micro-finishing film. We recommend starting with a 100-micron film for chisels and plane blades to remove any previous grinding marks. Using a honing guide can be very helpful for beginners to maintain the correct angle; a typical bevel angle for chisels and plane blades is 25 degrees. When we carry out any chisel sharpening or plane blade sharpening, we like to set our secondary bevel to 30 degrees. With the blade angled fractionally steeper than the primary bevel angle, work down the grits using pull strokes only using between five or ten strokes on each strip. Apply moderate pressure and pull the tool towards you across the micro-finishing film, keeping the bevel flat against the surface. Repeat this process, gradually progressing through your micro-finishing films until you reach around your 9-micron film.

Step 3: Honing the Edge

Once the bevel is established, it’s time to refine and hone the edge. Move on to your finer grits of micro-finishing film, from 100 microns down to 9 microns or lower. This step is crucial for achieving that razor-sharp edge. The finer the grit, the sharper and more polished the edge will become. During this phase, light, consistent strokes are key.

Step 4: Testing and Troubleshooting

After honing, test the sharpness of your tool. A sharp wood chisel or blade should easily cut through paper or end-grain wood. If the edge isn’t as sharp as you’d like, revisit the finer grits until you’re satisfied with the result.

Tips for Success:

scary sharp system
  • Maintain a Consistent Angle: Consistency is key to achieving a sharp, even edge. A honing guide can be an invaluable tool for beginners.
  • Keep It Wet: Using water or a lapping fluid on the micro-finishing films can help prevent clogging and extend its life. Saving you money in the long run.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Your first few attempts may not be perfect, but with practice, your technique will improve.


The Scary Sharp system is a highly effective and accessible method for sharpening your woodworking tools. With minimal investment in materials and some practice, you can achieve professional-level sharpness on your wood chisels and plane blades. This guide should provide you with a solid foundation to start sharpening your tools and enhancing your woodworking projects with precision and ease.

If you’re interested in the chisels used in this tutorial you can find them by clicking here

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