If you love working with your hands and creating your own imaginative wood pieces, you can’t do without owning and using a wood chisel. By owning a set of chisels, you can be ready to create any project of your interest. Also, you might like to do several functions without using electronic tools. If yes, then yet again, a set of chisels is just right for you. We have compiled a chisel buying guide for you.
Before you scour the market for wood chisels, it’s important to know that these tools are available in a large variety of shapes and sizes. This means that each one will give you a slightly varying output when you work with your next piece of wood.
One way of choosing the ideal chisel is to check out the blade sizes so that you know whether it’s the right one for your kind of work. For a variety of woodworking functions, you might need more than one or two chisels, but that’s normal, so don’t let it worry you.
Functions of Woodworking Chisels
Woodworking chisels are extremely versatile. They are generally used to cut and carve hard materials like wood, stone or metal. You can recognize a chisel as a tool with a long, thick steel blade and a handle made of wood or metal.
To cut through metal or wood, one must force the chisel into the material. This can either be done manually or by using a mallet or hammer. When used industrially, a falling weight or trip hammer or hydraulic ram is used to force the chisel to cut the material.
Creating Furniture and Cabinets
Chisels are used in manual wood joinery projects, particularly the Mortise and Dovetail. These joints help with creating furniture and cabinetry. This tool is also good for cutting projects to size and fitting them.
When chisels are used in metal work, they are of two types—hot and cold chisels. A hot chisel cuts heated metal in a forge to soften it. On the other hand, a cold chisel cuts cold metals or those that aren’t heated in forges. For stone working, chisels cut or carve stone, concrete or bricks. There are a variety of stone chisels for various functions.
In the aviation industry, the use of precision cutting tools helps manufacture and refurbish turbine blades.
Here, by using precision cutting tools, surgical and dental procedures are possible.
Renovation and Construction Projects:
Chisels are used in timber framing of barns and homes. Chisels of different sizes help to make furniture and cabinets.
Boat Building Industry:
Chisels are useful in cutting and fitting parts of boats.
Now that you know when to use chisels, let’s see what special features they have.
Factors of Woodworking Chisels:
If this will be your first purchase of a chisel, you should be careful of not picking up the wrong one. So, read through the essential features that your chisel should have so that you have a basic idea of what to expect from what you see.
Know Your Purpose:
When you’re purchasing a particular chisel, the most important factor is to recognize the need for one. Where will you use it? The kind of work you will do will define the kind of chisel you ought to buy.
Type of Handle:
It’s worth spending a little time considering certain handles you would like to go with—wood or plastic. Both materials have advantages and disadvantages. On the whole, wooden handles might be a good solution, since they are pleasing to the eye and are comfortable for protracted use.
However, ensure that you choose wooden handles made from erect-grained and slow-growing hardwood types, such as oak, ash, hornbeam and beech. Being straight-grained will give you the advantage of better handle grip and the wood will not have any natural defects.
On the other hand, plastic handles are for heavy-duty projects and are generally seen as split-proof.
Bolsters and Ferrules:
These important features on a chisel lend a lot of support, so ensure that the one you choose has both. In fact, ideally, the bolsters should be of a similar diameter as the base of the handle. This will ensure that the blade tang can’t go so deep into the handle that it splits.
You’ll find ferrules near the rear of the handles. They too offer a lot of support to the handles and blade and also ensures that the handle doesn’t split.
The Best Steel Blade Type:
These days, modern chisels are made with High Speed Steel (HSS) and chrome vanadium alloys. They are much tougher than the earlier high carbon steel. They are also less prone to problems such as being less tempered and more brittle during heating while sharpening.
A better option is Chrome vanadium alloy steel is as it does not lead to metal weakness due to repetitive pounding. This makes it the perfect choice for chisels that are made to be pounded using a mallet.
About blades, remember to choose blades that are hardened and tempered along the entire length of the blade. Over protracted use, the blade will shorten as the metal gets removed with each sharpening. Buy a chisel with a blade that’s hardened along its entire length because cheaper ones will have hardening only for about three or four centimetres of the blade, which will shorten its lifespan.
Test Steel Hardness:
Conduct a Rockwell test to find out the steel’s hardness. The normal range for it is Rc 60-61, but larger numbers denote tougher steel. Hard steels take long to hone than their softer counterparts, but they remain sharper for a whole lot longer.
Types of Chisels:
There are several types of chisels, but here are the leading ones:
Bevelled Edge Bench Chisels
These chisels are the most commonly found and used. They are neither too long nor too short and are an absolute basic need for all woodworkers. They get their name from the bevelled edges that facilitate working tight in joint corners.
If you need to cut the whole chisel manually, you need to equip yourself with this chisel. They are meant to be beaten into and then the wood is taken out. It is designed to chisel out the required mortises for cabinetry and other furniture.
Sash mortise Chisels
A light version of mortise chisels is the sash mortise chisel. With it, you can cut shallow mortises that you see in the crevices of wooden windows. This mortise is lightweight and easy to work with.
A paring chisel will help make fine cuts when fitting joints with precision. This chisel is lightweight, long, thin and flexible. It can only be used manually. With one hand, you should offer the required force to make the cut while with the other hand, you can guide the long and slender blade. Using a paring chisel, you can also dress both sides of a mortise after most of the waste has been removed with the help of this tool.
This is a premium tool for specialized work, so it can never be part of a novice’s tool kit. You’ll find it in the toolkit of cabinetmakers. With one, you can clean mortises’ deep corners or other such grooves.
There’s a whole large range of chisels in the market, so choosing one will be very difficult. However, if you begin by using just a couple of chisels and then work your way up, you will be better prepared to use the chisels that experienced woodworkers do. With a little bit of experience with basic chisels, you can be in a better frame of mind to know what exactly you need and buy just that. But before that, study the list given in our chisel buying guide and adapt it to your use.