Understanding how chisels are constructed and their specific purposes will help you decide which chisel will best suit your woodworking needs. Here are some Chisel Basics.
Most Woodworking Chisels are handmade or drop forged and constructed in one of two ways. Most are made with a tang – a metal extension that fits up inside the handle. These Tang Chisels may or may not have a metal ring to reinforce the area where the tang enters the handle. In Socket Chisel construction, the tang is replaced with a cone that fits into the handle and is tightly mated (fitted) and held into place by friction.
Handles are made from both wood and plastic. Wood is aesthetically pleasing and has a great feel, while plastic offers great durability.
TYPES OF CHISELS AND BLADE SHAPESChisels are made for specific woodworking tasks, which is why their blades have different shapes and angles. Basic chisel types and their uses are described below.
Left: Blade tip of Bench, Paring and Firmer Chisels. Right: Blade tip of a Mortise Chisel.
• Bench Chisel
- The most widely used chisel in the shop since it is a multi-purpose chisel used for chopping and paring wood.
• Mortise Chisel - This is a specialty chisel that is thicker and is used for cutting and cleaning out mortises (deep holes in the wood that will host a tenon).
• Paring Chisel - These chisels often have a thinner, long, delicate blade and are used for fine trimming or shaving of the wood. This chisel is pushed by hand for a more delicate finishing cut. Some have offset handles (cranked).
• Firmer Chisel - These are construction chisels with thick blades that are used for heavy stock removal.
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