View Full Version : chisels
12-26-2002, 08:42 PM
can someone fill me in on all the kinds and uses of chisels. like bench and mortise and all those others.
Anything can be built if you have good plans, the right tools, the right know how, and more importently the money to do it.
12-26-2002, 09:56 PM
Far better than I can explain it!
Danford C Jennings
12-27-2002, 09:46 AM
"Bench chisel" is a genaric term for chisels used at the bench. This would include paring chisels, mortise chisels, swan neck chisels, firmer chisels, and butt chisels. Not to mention the myriad of Japenese chisels...
A paring chisel has beveled sides, is rarely (if ever) struck, and is used for "fine" work such as fitting dovetails and cleaning up tenon shoulders. The bezel is generally sharpened and honed at 25º. Some, myself included, put a micro bezel on by honing at 30º. These are the most "common" ones we see.
A registered mortise chisel has square sides and is made of thicker steel than paring and butt chisels. It is made to be struck with a mallet and the bezel should be sharpened and honed at 30º to 35º. This aids in levering out the waste and keeps the edge sharp longer. They come in two types; tang and socket. A tang mortise chishel is one where the chisel itself has a tang that the handle goes over. The bottom of the handle will "rest" on the shoulder of the chisel and is cushioned with leather at the end of the ferrule. A socket mortise is where the handle is press fitted into a socket at the end of the chisel. Both usually have a metal ring at the striking end of the chisel to help prevent the handle from splitting.
A swan neck chisel has squared sides, and is used for cleaning up the sides and bottom of a mortise, so it is in a sense a mortising chisel, though they are rarely struck.
Firmer chisels are very similar to registered mortise chisels in chisel design. The main difference is that they are larger in size and have longer handles. They are used mostly in the boat building trades and the larger ones are used for post/beam framing. They are meant to be struck with a mallet and are usually sharpened in the same manner as a registered mortise chisel.
A butt chisel is basically a paring chisel but much shorter, some refer to them as "stub" chisels. They are used like a paring chisel. I do have a couple of these; they started out as paring chisels though. ;) FWIW.
12-27-2002, 12:16 PM
When I was in Ohio a couple months ago, I did some research in a friend's incredible collection of tool and woodworking books.
The "registered" mortise chisel is a tanged firmer with handles hooped at the bolster and top of the handle. Registered is or was a British version of a patent. Registered mortise chisels were originally light duty mortise chisels intended for boat and ship construction.
Mortise chisels are quite a bit heavier than a registered mortise chisel. They will have much heavier blades. Many British mortise chisels; those now sometimes called "pig stickers" on the internet, another Patrick Leach term I think, were tanged and later mortise chisels were most likely socket chisels.
Danford C Jennings
12-28-2002, 09:15 AM
Interesting, thanks for clearing that up....