Chiseling wood is a common woodworking task. Therefore, wood chisels are essential hand tools in any workshop, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker.
If you’re looking for a set of wood chisels, though, the choice is overwhelming. What wood chisels should you have at the very least?
The bench chisel, mortise chisel, and paring chisel are the three most regularly used chisels, according to research. These are the three major chisels that any woodworker should have, as they can handle 90% of woodworking tasks.
I’ll show you how to identify these three types of chisels and what they can achieve for your workshop projects in this article.
It’s crucial to be able to choose the best chisels that will last you a lifetime. As a result, in addition to offering information about these chisels, I also show how to properly maintain them so that you may count on them at all times for chiseling wood.
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What is a chisel?
A chisel is a hand tool consisting of a handle and a metal blade with a sharp cutting edge. This tool is used to carve materials such as wood, stone, or metal, by placing the sharp cutting edge on the material and tapping the handle with a hammer.
Chisels can be divided into 3 types, wood chisels, stone chisels, and metal chisels. These are recognizable because of their shape or the material from which they are made.
What are wood chisels used for?
A sharp wood chisel is a versatile tool that can be used for chopping, cutting, cutting mortises, paring, or scraping off glue squeeze-out or coatings like paint from a surface.
The chisel for wood is one of the most popular and widely used hand tools among hobbyists and professionals alike due to its versatility. Chisels are the essential tools that any DIYer should have in their workshop.
What woodworking chisel is best for beginners?
In order to know which wood chisel to buy first, you will have to analyze all the tasks that you will perform that will require a specific chisel. From that analysis, You’ll be able to tell what kind of chisel for wood it is based on that study.
Lucky for you, I’ve already done this analysis and from research, I’ve identified 3 types of chisels that are essential for almost every woodworker.
The main type of wood chisels that you will want to buy when you first get started with traditional woodworking is bench chisels, mortise chisels, and paring chisels.
These 3 wood chisels will handle all the basic tasks where you require a chisel for wood.
However, there are other special chisels for specific tasks that you may need. For example, if you want to do woodturning, you will need woodturning chisels, or to do specific joinery like making dovetails you will need to purchase dovetail chisels, etc.
There are so many types of chisels that this blog would be too long to discuss them all. That’s why I stick to the 3 most important chisels.
The first sort of woodworking chisels I recommend buying is bench chisels. The most common woodworking chisels are bench chisels, which can be used for a range of tasks. Bench chisels earn their name from their frequent appearance on your workbench.
Beveled or flat edges are available on bench chisels. On the bevel edge, the right and left sides of the blade rotate up at an angle, allowing the chisel to fit into joints more easily. This is the most common chisel pattern.
Bench chisels come in a wide range of sizes. At least four bench chisels are required: 1/4′′ (6 mm), 3/8′′ (10 mm), 1/2′′ (12 mm), 5/8′′ (16 mm), 13/16′′ (20 mm), and 1-1/16′′ (26 mm).
These are the sizes that a good set of bench chisels will normally comprise.
Mortise chisels are specialized chisels used to cut out a mortise in a piece of wood. They are noticeably thicker than bench chisels, and they’re made to take a beating from a mallet and can be used for cutting straight across the grain as well as removing excess material.
The mortise chisels are toughly constructed and built to withstand the rigors of cutting deep, narrow mortises. The sides are slightly beveled, and the principal bevel’s heel is radiused to make waste removal easier. The chisel blade’s face is lapped flat to guarantee that it is smooth and accurate.
3/8′′ mortise chisel is the most common mortise chisel size (10 mm) You’ll also get a 1/8′′ (4 mm), 1/4′′ (6 mm), and 1/2” (12 mm) when you buy a set, so you may work on a range of projects.
Paring chisels are used to finely pare the joints. They’re typically used for hand trimming. Paring can be done using bench chisels, although paring chisels can help create smoother joints. Bench chisels are usually longer, thinner, and have a lower sharpening angle. The angle is normally around 20 degrees, which makes it easier to trim the end grain. Because of the 20-degree angle and thin steel, they should never be used with a mallet. Like a bench chisel, they can have a bevel or no bevel on the left and right sides of the blade.
If you buy a set of paring chisels, your blade will come in sizes 1/4” (6 mm), 1/2” (12 mm), 3/4” (18 mm), 1” (25 mm), and 1-1/4” (30 mm).
These types of chisels are more expensive than the bench chisels and the mortise chisels, but if you buy a good quality set and take good care of them, they will last a lifetime.
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What is the difference between Socket Chisels and Tang Chisels?
If you look for wood chisels for your workshop, you will find that they can be attached to their handles in 2 different ways. They are attached either by means of a socket or by means of tang.
With a socket chisel, the conical chisel handle fits into the metal socket of the chisel.
Tang chisels have pointed metal tangs that are mounted in the handle of the wood chisel.
Tang chisel handles are less durable than socket chisel handles. As a result, socket chisel handles are increasingly popular among woodworkers.
Socket chisels rest atop the cone of the handle and can take a battering.
Tang chisels fit in the hole of a handle and can fracture the wooden handle if hammered repeatedly hard enough with a hammer.
Chisel handles, on the other hand, are prone to breaking when struck with excessive force. This frequently occurs when a metal hammer is used to strike a wood chisel. Only use a wooden mallet to strike a chisel. Also, after a chisel has sunk deep into the wood, never keep hammering on it. Chop a little more, clean up the mess, and then continue cutting.
Should you buy wood or plastic handles?
In the past, wood chisels were made exclusively with wooden handles, today this is different. You see more, and more plastic handles used on chisels.
Are plastic handles less good than wooden handles? Not really!
First of all, they are cheaper and at least as strong as wooden handles when it comes to taking blows with the hammer.
And yet I prefer wooden handles. I personally think these are still better in the hand than plastic handles, they also feel better, and admit, a wooden handle looks much better. Ok, this may not be the most important argument, but I think it’s much more fun to watch.
How to maintain a wood chisel?
Buying a set of chisels is quite an investment. When you have bought good chisels, and you take care of them, these wood chisels can last a lifetime. To help you with this, I would like to give you a few tips to get you started.
If your chisels come with a protective cap, continue to use it to optimally protect the chisel. The guard ensures that the cutting edge of the chisel for wood does not become blunt or damaged between uses.
Storing your chisels between uses will help them maintain their sharp cutting edges. Do not leave a chisel on a workbench for too long. The risk of it being knocked off the workbench, falling to the floor, and being damaged is too big. When the chisels are always properly stored, it is also easier to quickly find the specific size chisel you need.
Keep rust away by greasing them. However, be careful with this, you should not see the oil dripping off. What I do is spray some WD40 on a soft, clean cloth and rub it into the chisel. This ensures that a thin film of oil forms on the metal and rust does not get a chance. I repeat this step every time I put the chisel away.
Make sure your chisel is always sharp. A sharp chisel for wood not only cuts better, it also lasts longer and is safer to work with because it is easier to control. However, always remain attentive when working with a sharp chisel. The sharp edge of a chisel for wood can cause severe cuts. That’s why I always advise having a First aid kit in your workshop. You can check my article on How To Make A Workshop First Aid Kit here.
Every woodworker should have three types of wood chisels in their workplace, according to my research: the bench chisel, mortise chisel, and mating chisel.
The majority of woodworking processes can be accomplished with these chisels.
I recommend socket chisels if you’re looking for the perfect wood chisels that will last a lifetime with proper maintenance and care.
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Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration