I'm a 15 year old boy who likes to do basic woodworking. I got an old chisel that I sharped using an old wetstone. It's pretty sharp but there is a small problem. If I try to (I don't know what it's called exactly) cut cross-grain into a marked line, the chisel doesn't cut through the wood but pushes the grains. If I put my chisel with the grain, it goes in easily. Can someone help me?

Kind regards

  • 2
    A picture showing the results you are getting cutting cross-grain might be useful.
    – MarkH
    Apr 16, 2018 at 10:20
  • 1
    It's hard to figure out the problem from your description but "pretty sharp" with a chisel is often not good enough so it could easily be a sharpness issue. Sharp as a razor is needed for best performance with chisels, see previous Answer for a bit more info woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/3374/…
    – Graphus
    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:28
  • 1
    Have you tried to sneak up on the cut? In other words, cut 1/8" away from the line, then 1/16", then actually on the line? That often makes a huge difference if your chisel isn't perfectly sharp. Apr 17, 2018 at 4:18

1 Answer 1


What wood are you working with? Unintuitively, harder woods are easier to cut across the grain. Softer woods will tends to crush rather than being cut cleanly. Try both oak and pine, for example.

Also, to achieve good sharpness you typically need to go to high grits when sharpening, which your "old wetstone" probably isn't. You'd want to get to at least 1000 grit, and you'd get noticeable improvement in sharpness all the way to 6000-8000 (I haven't personally used finer compounds, so can't attest to their actual usefulness).

To try out finer grits for sharpening, you can use wet/dry sandpaper at high grits (as high as you can find, big box stores typically carry assorted packs going up to 1000 or more). There are disadvantages to using sandpaper, but the initial cost is very low when compared to good quality stones. Just stick the sandpaper to a flat surface (pane of glass, granite counter top, etc.) and sharpen the chisel.

  • Start sharpening with a lower grit and step up to higher grits in sequence using at least 3 or more steps.
    – Ashlar
    Apr 16, 2018 at 2:26

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