These are bladed, cutting or shaping tools, usually with an extended handle for striking or leverage for prying. They are used to shape wood by removing material. They’re primarily used during the fitment of wood parts into project components, or for decorative carving.
What is a Wood Chisel?
Wood Chisels are hand tools used to shave or chip wood. Wood Chisels can be operated by striking them with a hammer with some care. There are two main types of wood chisels – those used by carpenters and those used by woodworkers.
Carpenter chisels are broken into types by size and usage:
- Framing corner chisels are framers forged into a 90-degree angle to clean out corners. Generally 30-degree bevels. Usually with hooped, socket handles.
- Millwright or Factory mortise chisels are very long, very heavy mortise chisel designed for heavy striking with heavy, hooped handles. Many were 16” long and often made by manufacturers like New Haven Edge Tool who specialized in large chisels. Always with hooped, socket handles and a 35-40 degree bevel.
Woodworking chisels are broken up into types by usage:
- Cranked Paring Chisel – the blade is offset so the handle is above the surface of the work. These are mostly used by pattern makers to get into areas that are below the surface of the work piece.
- Skew Paring Chisel: has a 60 degree cutting angle and is used for trimming and finishing.
- Dovetail Paring Chisel – these have nearly a diamond shape to clean female sliding dovetail sockets.
• Gouges with angled rather than curved blades are often called 'V-gouges' or 'vee-parting tools'.
- Long Bent – A gouge, chisel or V tool where the blade is curved along its entire length. Handy for deep work.
- Short Bent or Spoon – A gouge, chisel or V tool where the blade is straight with a curve at the end, like a spoon. Use for work in deep or inaccessible areas.
- Back Bent – A spoon gouge with a reverse bent end. Used for undercuts and reeding work.
• Timber Framers
• Wet Wood workers.
• Retail Stores
• Yard and Estate Sales
• Craig’s List
• What to look for
- Look for all the parts (iron, handle, *ferrule, *strike plate)
- Look for cracks or chips, especially around the ferrule
- Look at the length for stress and condition of the edge for bluing
- How flat is the back? Convex back = bad (takes too long to knap)
- Look for excessive pitting due to rust
- Cheap pot-metal or sheet metal materials and soft plastic in general = bad
- Metal striking plate is more of a carpenter’s chisel
- Anything marked "Stanley", "Witherby", "Winchester", “James Swan”, "Chas Buck" or "L&IJ White" is generally going to a collector for too high a price unless they are part of large, handle-less lots.
- Good brands include older (not newer) Greenlee and Buck Bros, New Haven Edge Tool, Ohio Tool, Crossman, DR Barton, Underhill, Union Hardware, Jennings, Sargent, GI Mix, Shapleigh Hardware, Eric Anton Berg, Dickerson, Gillespie, Wye, Dixon, PS&W or PEXTO, Robt Duke, Fulton, Merrill, Butcher, Stiletto, Hibbard OVB, Simmons Keen Kutter, Lakeside and several other old makers and hardware store brands are every bit as good as the collector prizes and are much less expensive. Most unmarked chisels of that era were usually made by one of the above makers for a hardware distributor and are also generally excellent.
- Stanley Defiance
- Newer Greenlee, Buck or Stanley socket chisels made in the 1960's and later
- Any chisel with a vanadium finish like used on today's mechanic's tools
• Flat Grinding perpendicular to the back past the knick.
• Evaporust or Electrolysis
• Phosphoric Acid (Parkerizing)
A sharp chisel gives you great control and allows you to remove paper-thin slices of wood, but it can be dangerous if you’re not careful.
• Clamp small projects.
• Cover the chisel blade when it’s not in use.
• Store chisels in a safe place, away from children.
• Wear safety glasses when striking a chisel with a hammer.
• Wear close-toed shoes (nothing like spearing a toe)
• http://ruckus.law.cornell.edu/mailman/listinfo/oldtools (email list)
• Bob Smalser
• Scott Grandstaff