Woodworking chisels are versatile tools that can be used for a variety of applications. They can be used for chopping mortises, paring tenons, carving reliefs, cutting dovetails and shaping table and chair legs.
Most woodworking chisels are handmade or drop forged. They can be made with a tang, which fits up inside the handle, or socket chisels, which have a cone that is tightly mated (fitted) to the bolster.
A woodworking chisel is a long, rectangular blade with a sharp bevel at one end. The other end is attached to a wooden or plastic handle.
A chisel can be used for splitting, chopping and paring wood. It can also be used to develop woodworking joints and shape wood.
The best way to select a chisel is based on the task you’ll be performing with it. Choosing a bench chisel for general-purpose shaving and joining, a mortise chisel for deep mortises in hardwood, or a paring chisel for detailed carving will ensure you have the right tool for your project.
Some chisels are capped with metal to protect the handles from being chipped or broken by steel hammers. This may be a good choice for heavier carpentry work, while others are made with rubber grips to reduce the risk of damage to the handles.
The blade of a woodworking chisel is the part of the chisel that cuts into and shapes the material it’s working on. Chisel blades can vary in length and width to suit a wide range of applications.
The thickness of a chisel’s blade can also differ, depending on the type of chisel it is. Mortise chisels are the thickest and have blades that can withstand the heavy blows of a mallet, which is needed to chop out excess timber from mortise-and-tenon joints.
Paring chisels have thin, long blades that are used to carefully trim small amounts of wood when fitting joints. The long length gives maximum control and is ideal when working with flat surfaces.
Chisels are generally made from one of two types of steel: normal tool steel or vanadium steel. Both are hardened to a specific degree of hardness to make them durable and maintain their sharp edge for extended periods.
A chisel’s grip can be made from wood or plastic. Depending on your preferences, a wood handle may be preferable for a more traditional feel and a better fit on your hand.
Whether you choose a chisel with a wooden or plastic handle depends on your preference and how often you use the tool. Typically, wooden handles are preferred by experienced craftsmen who are willing to pay a little extra for that look and feel.
You can also purchase woodworking chisels with no handle, such as for hand paring of joints or fine-tuning edges. Using no handle allows you to control the angle of the chisel and prevents it from digging too deeply into the wood.
Regardless of the style, it’s important to keep your chisel sharp, so it can cut more efficiently and leave cleaner edges when used with a hammer or mallet. If your chisel has dulled too much, use a grinding stone to resharpen it.
The weight of a woodworking chisel has a major impact on its performance. A heavier chisel will cut deeper and faster than an unsharpened one.
Likewise, a lighter chisel will cut shallower and slower than a heavy one. But a lightweight chisel can also hurt your hands if you don’t use it correctly.
Another consideration is the shape of a woodworking chisel’s blade. Generally, longer blades are best for fine work and short ones are better for cramming into tight spaces.
Finally, the thickness of a chisel’s blade can also affect its performance. Longer blades provide more control, while shorter blades are ideal for chopping.
There are many different types of chisels, including bench chisels, mortise chisels, and paring chisels. There are also specialized chisels for specific purposes, like a wood sculptor’s chisel and a carpenter’s chisel. These chisels can be purchased individually or in sets that cover a wide range of sizes and functions.