Last updated on October 9, 2021
Wood chisels are a fun tool to use when you are doing woodworking and wood carving.
Consider a quality wooden handle for fine woodworking and smoother hits, a tidy wooden box, and a brand that is known to be one of the best chisel sets.
Make sure to have hornbeam handles and a variety of sizes for different woodworking tasks.
If you are new to woodworking, a carving or bevel edge set of blades is the best tool to get you started.
The Irwin maples’ are a cheap option that you can’t go wrong with, the maple handle is better for beginners as the handle is more durable.
As for brands like two cherries and Narex they make a perfect choice or gift idea, for a woodworking enthusiast paired with a bottle of whiskey.
For building work, you would instead opt for a chisel set that is made with a handle of steel, like the Irwin pro touch.
It’s best to buy chisels in a set, it is cheaper than buying chisels individually, 6 is a good number.
#2 Best Narex wood chisels
Narex 6 Piece woodworking Bench chisels in a wooden case
#4 Beginners wood chisel set
Marples Irwin 6 Piece chisels in a wood case
Best wood carving chisels
#1 Best wood carving chisel set
Two Cherries 10 piece carving Wood Chisels in a wooden box
#2 Best value wood carving chisel set
Narex Chisels 9 piece carving wood chisels in a wood box
Best chisels for builders
Best wood-turning chisels
Make sure to have a mallet & a sharpening stone
What are wood chisels and when to use them?
Whether you plan on doing some serious DIY woodworking or you simply want to try your hand at wood carving, a good set of chrome steel chisels is a must-have.
Wood chisels are a tool that has dated back even, previously made out of copper, and bronze, and used to cave both wood and stone. Nowadays chisels are made from various levels of hardened steel blades.
Chisels make for a great first set of hand tools for many reasons. Even the most well-designed models are relatively inexpensive, and they last a lifetime with proper care.
Most of all, they provide you with an easy way to get started with woodworking, even if it is simply chipping away at a block of wood or cutting out a square hole, to carve something awesome.
Chisels are especially good choices for those that have never worked with tools before. Even kids can use them effectively with a bit of supervision, and they may just lead to a long-term interest in woodworking.
Features to consider
Before you buy a wood chisel set…
1. Pick the right brand.
Quality chisels work with different wood types such as an Acacia or Teak. Certain brands of chisels have achieved excellent reputations among builders, DIY’ers, and hobbyists alike.
Known for their strength, durability, and ease of use, brands such as Two Cherries, Narex, and especially Irwin are popular choices among builders who need the best quality tools for the job.
2. Consider the shaft material. (Steel vs wood)
Most longtime woodworkers prefer chisels with wooden handles. Well-made wooden-handled chisels tend to be well-balanced and easy-to-use. The best of them simply feel good in the hands and are nice to look at too.
A beautiful set of wooden-handled chisels is impressive to look at, and it has an air of authenticity that you simply don’t get with plastic-handled chisels.
That said, a good steel striking plate will hold up to repeated hammer blows.
If you plan on doing a lot of work involving house building and demolition you must get a chisel with a built-in metal striking plate.
3. Have a tidy case.
Most of the best wood chisels come with some type of carrying case; usually a wooden or plastic box. This should tide you over for a while if you simply leave your chisels at home in your workshop.
But if you plan on carrying your chisels around with you, investing in a good quality chisel roll is a must.
You’ve probably seen dedicated woodworkers pack their best wood chisels up in a leather chisel roll. These are surprisingly handy and convenient, and they help protect your chisels from damage.
They also keep you from scratching or cutting yourself when transporting your tools, and they are a great way to show off your chisels besides.
4. Pay the right price
As with all tools, you pay for what you get. The best chisels are more than double the price as the cheap ones.
A set of good-quality chisels can easily cost you a couple of hundred dollars or more.
You don’t want to cheap out and get the least expensive models you can find either, as they will likely break or quickly become blunted, and be unable to maintain their cutting edge.
When is it time to get a wood chisel set?
Get your first chisel set even if you’re just starting.
You might want to start with a set of five or ten, which gives you a good number to work with without having to spend too much money right off the bat.
Start with a bevel chisel set.
Bench chisels are among the most common type of chisels, simply because they are so versatile, and can be used for many woodworking tasks.
These chisels can also be used for more complex work, due to the bevel edge that makes them fit into joints more easily.
Having a variety of different tips will also enable you to do a wider range of jobs.
When shopping for a set of carving chisels, look for one that includes a narrow straight chisel, a wide chisel, a deep gouge, a medium gouge, and a couple of angled chisels.
Then grow your collection…
If you really want to round out your set, you could add a round-nose chisel, a parting tool, and a skew woodturning chisel. These hand tools will allow you to do pretty much any kind of wood carving art.
It is always a good idea to purchase a set of chisels even if you are just starting. This will ensure that you always have the right-sized chisel for the job, ready to go in your workshop apron.
Choosing woodworking chisels?
When it comes down to choosing the right brand the Two Cherries and Narex woodworking chisels are known for their quality build and superb construction.
#1 Best sized Two cherries chisel set
The chisels in the Two Cherries 6 piece set are no exception. Made from high-quality carbon steel, these retain their edge exceptionally well and will last for many years woodworking.
Each chisel included is fitted with a hornbeam handle that is cut specifically to fit the size of each blade. This results in a balanced and easy-to-handle chisel that feels great and produces consistent results.
The Two Cherries chisels are still made pretty much as they were decades ago in the company’s factory in Remscheid Germany. They are made with high-quality steel and you can rely on them to provide years of service if they are also your picked choice.
#1 Best Narex wood chisel set
The next best option is to go with Narex 6 piece set.
They offer premium high-end quality set as well at a slightly more affordable price, and they hold their cutting edge also just as well.
Choosing wood carving chisels?
Wood carving requires a more specialized set of hand tools, one that can do more than just gouge out big chunks of wood. You need something that allows for a more delicate touch, which is better suited for intricate and detailed shaping.
#1 Best Two cherries carving chisels
The Two Cherries 11-piece set offers a quality set of tools, along with a handy sharpening stone.
Like the chisels in their 6-piece set, these are made from high-quality carbon steel, ensuring long life and excellent edge retention.
The set comes with everything you would need for a wide variety of woodworking tasks, including gouges, askew, a V-tool, and a selection of chip carvers.
Each chisel has a wooden octagon handle that ensures comfortable use and prevents them from rolling off the work area.
#1 Best Narex carving chisels
The Narex 10 piece set is another great option when it comes to picking a quality wood carving set.
It comes with a handy sharpening stone as well and has comfortable handles for maximum control, all packed inside a tidy wooden box ready to go.
#1 Flexible carving chisels
If you really want to round out your carving set another addition could be to pair a standard set with flexible blades for lighter cutting.
The flex-cut chisels like this have flexible blades for even smoother cuts.
Choosing chisels for building work
Builders need chisels that can withstand regular heavy use. Like demolition and taking things apart.
Woodworking and carving chisels aren’t suitable for heavy-duty woodwork and carpentry and will fail within your first few attempts.
For joining work, mortise chisels are especially useful. They can be used for making mortise joints, and most are tough enough to handle a variety of other jobs.
You don’t necessarily have to buy a full set of mortise chisels. For most DIY home builders, one or two mortise chisels and a few bevel-edge chisels should be enough for most purposes. A good size to start with is a 3/8-inch chisel, which isn’t too big or too small.
You might also want to pick up a ¼-inch chisel, which works well with ¾-inch and 7/8-inch boards. For hand-trimming joints, you should also pick up a paring chisel or two. These will help you create smoother joints than bevel edge chisels.
Irwin chisels have long been a favorite and the best wood chisels for builders.
The company actually bought out William Marples and Sons, Ltd, which for a long time was the industry standard for high-quality chisels.
#1 Chisel set for builders
Although they have many options available, this Irwin 8-piece chisel set offers the same traditional quality that has made Marples the favorite for woodworkers and DIY’ers in a set instead for construction where durability is more of a requirement.
The blades here are made of a single piece of high-quality steel, which is subjected to a special hardening process. This ensures a long-lasting blade that retains its steel edge for longer.
The chisels feature the company’s exclusive ProTouch handles that are comfortable to use even for long periods.
They are also fitted with metal striking caps so you can use them safely with a mallet or a hammer without worrying about them splitting or warping.
Who uses wood chisels the most?
1. Cabinet makers.
Chisels can be used to cut out rough holes in wood for shelves and doors. These holes can later be enlarged with a saw, and later refined and smoothed out with a plane. Chisels can also be used to make intricate designs in decorative cabinetry and to fashion moldings and trimmings.
Chisels can be used for shaping pieces of wood so that they fit precisely together. Joiners typically use paring chisels to make smooth joints. Chisels with lower angles are especially useful for easier trimming of end grains.
Builders use chisels to gouge out bits of wood from larger pieces. Most builders typically use saws to cut wood roughly to the necessary dimensions.
Chisels are then used for shaping or for making more precise cuts. They may also be used to etch out intricate designs into wood, and to make individual pieces that fit precisely with each other.
DIY woodworkers have many uses for chisels, from correcting warped or unevenly-cut pieces of wood to connecting two end pieces.
They can also be used to trim some wood off a door jamb to fix sticky doors and to cut holes into larger sections.
Comparing chisel sets
|M373 Chisel Set
|Two Cherries 515-3437
|Schaaf Wood Carving Tools
|IMOTECHOM Carving Set
|ProTouch Chisel Set
|IRWIN Tools 1819363
|IMOTECHOM Lathe Set
|PSI LCHSS8 Lathe Set
|Manufacturer:||Two Cherries||Narex||Narex||Irwin/Marples||Two Cherries||Narex||Two Cherries||Flexcut||Schaaf||IMOTECHOM||Irwin/Marples||Irwin/Marples||IMOTECHOM||PSI|
|User:||Woodworker||Woodworker||Woodworker||Woodworker||Woodworker||Carver||Carver||Carver||Carver||Carver||Builder||Builder||Wood Turner||Wood Turner|
|Number of chisels:||6||12||6||6||11||9||7||6||12||12||8||5||8||8|
Tips for using chisels
A chisel can a favorite tool for woodworking. Few things can compare to the rewarding and satisfying feeling of carving away at a block of wood to have it come to shape under your hands. Here are some tips on how you could use your chisels more effectively.
- Keep your chisels sharp and always direct your chisel away from the body, you can use a good pair of clamps like the Bessey clamps to stabilize your work, or use a bench vice to make your cuts more controlled.
- When making mortise cuts, start with the bevel down. Push the chisel gently into the wood, removing thin slices at a time. You can control how much wood you remove by raising or lowering the handle.
- To prevent wood edges from chipping first, outline the area to be cut. You could either use a knife or make shallow cuts with your chisel.
- Avoid chiseling against the grain whenever possible. This can cause you to lose control over the chisel, especially if the grain runs deep. If necessary, re-position your tool so that you are chiseling along the grain.
- In most cases, you will want to face the bevel edge down when shaving into the wood. If you are trying to flatten out a cut, however, you might get better results by facing the bevel up and keeping the chisel low.
- Try not to take out too much wood at once. It is almost always best to take a bit off at a time and assessing the results before proceeding.
- If you want to do big checkouts, you can make it easier by using a spade drill bit to take out the bulk of the timber. An even better idea is to the initial bore out using a cordless wood router. No worries, we mapped out a guide to using wood routers.
For more wood chiseling tips and tricks, check this out.
Maintenance for your chisels
Most chisels come pre-sharpened right out of the box. But of course, you will have to apply some chisel sharpening techniques eventually for maximum performance.
For woodworking and carving a blunt blade means you will be hitting the chisel harder, and this puts more pressure on a high-quality wooden handle. And hitting a chisel harder than you need to can make your job more dangerous, and it also can leave a poor finish.
That’s why it is important to have a good sharpening stone ready
You will need a sharpening kit to keep your best wood chisels in top condition. The kit below comes with a double-sided whetstone and a handy bamboo base to keep the stone steady for your steel alloy or chrome vanadium steel woodworking chisels.
You also get a helpful angle guide and an instruction manual. There is also an e-book that provides a wealth of sharpening tips and tricks that you will find useful regardless of your level of experience.
For major wear and tear on your wool chisels, you can use a table grinder.
Most bench grinders operate at 3500+ RMP but for sharpening chisels, a slower speed can be easier and reduce the chance of burning the blade. Or you could use a variable speed grinder like the Craftsman bench grinder.
The Two Cherries woodworking chisels are a top-of-the-range choice, for hobbyists and home DIY’ers they are also available online at a reasonably affordable price.
They are easy to use and have a low maintenance design, made to handle complex woodworking tasks so you can keep using them as your skills grow.
The 6-piece set offers more than enough blades to get started with.
But if you plan on getting serious with your woodworking, then you can spring for the 11-piece Narex chisel set, which offers even more tool options with the bonus of a comfortable octagonal handle. You are going to have to carve your own case.
For building work rather than carving or woodworking the Irwin ProTouch 8-piece set offers the durability that you need with the ProTouch handles that can be used for long periods without discomfort, they are of course fitted with metal striking caps that can handle a good hard beating.
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