I sharpen my hand tools with sandpaper, but instead of using an expensive plate glass base, I’ve found a thriftier substitute: ground and polished marble or granite floor tile. You can buy it at any home center. Glue the tile to an oversized piece of Masonite, plywood or MDF. This backer stiffens the tile and protects the edges. I drilled a hole in mine for hanging it up when I finish my sharpening sessions.
Mortiser chisels cut better if you use a spacer to create a gap between the chisel and the internal drill bit. A dime’s thickness is about the right amount of gap, but for me it would often drop off as I installed the chisel and tightened things up. Instead of using a dime, I cut a piece of thin kitchen magnet to “stick” between the collar and chisel for a spacer. After use, I just stick the magnet to the mortiser until next time. No more dropping those dimes!
Photos by David Glazer