Last updated on June 1, 2021
What are the different types of chisels and their uses?
Including a wide array of chisels made specifically for various woodworking applications, including carving, material removal, shaping, and many more.
Carve shapes and patterns on wood even without power tools.
Also called ‘Gouges’, these are a distinct set of chisels that are primarily used to carve and create intricate shapes and patterns on wood.
Common parts of a chisel
The blade is essentially the chisel’s cutting edge. It can come in various shapes and sizes depending on the application. A blade often includes sub-parts, mainy the bevel, bevel edge blade, cutting edge, and shoulder.
Where the chisel is held. Handles are usually made of hard timbers, such as oak or hickory, and sometimes even plastic. The handle’s shape can add to its convenience, ergonomics, and grip.
Often a brass or iron extension from the blade that attaches to the handle. The ferrule strengthens one end of the handle and prevents it from being worn and breaking when struck with force.
The part of a chisel that regularly meets a hammer or mallet. Specially cut to form right-angled edges and corners for added durability and resistance to wear and tear.
Where to use woodworking chisels?
If you want to know what do you use a wood chisel for, here we go:
Where to use carving chisels?
How to pick the right wood working chisel?
There are numerous types of woodworking chisels. This section will go over the most common ones and highlights how and why you should pick the right one.
But before you get to know how to use a wood chisel, learn how to pick the right chisel first,
Find one with the particular bevels that you need, otherwise, they are the best choice for all-around work.
Shorter, stumpy-looking chisels that are effective at doing butt hinge work. Also sometimes called “American Pattern” chisels, these are basically smaller firmer chisels that are better for reaching tight and cramped spots.
Paring chisels have long, narrow blades and are surprisingly lightweight. They have unorthodox handles because these are not meant to be struck with a mallet, but rather driven purely by a hand to shave off or ‘par’ material. Ideal for more delicate and precise work.
One reason why use a wood mallet on the chisel.
These are chisels specifically designed to chop out deep mortises. These are more rigidly manufactured and sturdy as they’re meant to take on heavy blows with a mallet and can be used to directly cut across the grain.
The reinforced blade also prevents bending when levering out any waste material. Definitely go with these when you need to create mortises.
This chisel is meant to form and shape material, preferably wood faster than others. Wider than a mortising chisel, these are a bit more flexible since they can also be used, to a lesser degree, to chop out thick mortises while also being able to do fast removal work and shape various mating joints. Ideal for furniture making.
How to pick the right wood carving chisel?
You need to know the right chisels before you learn how to use them for wood carving.
Standard wood carving chisels with beveled edges on both sides. Usually armed with a square cutting edge and comes in varying lengths.
For non-specific or general carving, go with these.
Chisels with blades skewed typically at 45° that make them perfect for wood turning operations. You can also make both plane and dovetail cuts with these.
Ideal for when you want to round corners or carve patterns with a lot of curves.
A chisel with a thin shaft at the base then tapers out to form the shape of a fish’s tail. The thin shaft improves visibility and allows you to work deep.
Good for projects with larger workpieces or those intended to house something within.
Chisels that look like spoons due to their curved blades. Designed to scoop out material from otherwise inaccessible spaces. Has the following configurations:
- Right corner
- Left corner
- Front bent
- Back bent
Configurations mainly have something to do with the way the blades are curved, so pick one that you think will allow you to work easier relative to your general position.
Belongs to a group of carving tools known as “Parting Tools”. These basically cut from the main block during woodturning and allow you to do outlining and letter-work as well.
Similar to a fishtail chisel, only that it has a curved blade and removes material from tight spaces in a broad curve.
Can be an alternative to a fishtail chisel if you primarily aim to remove more material.
A straight-edge chisel with an offset blade that forms the angle of a dog’s rear leg.
Works similar to regular straight-edge chisels only that these are better for when you need to get at awkward angles and irregularly tight corners.
The u-shaped cutting edge of this chisel allows you to easily scoop out material either by hand or with a mallet.
This comes in various radii which is what dictates the length of its sweep and what makes the scooped material correspond to the gouge’s shape.
Curved U gouge
Basically a U-gouge with a curved blade instead of a straight one. These allow you to cut in bowl-profile and are better at deep-cutting and roughing-out applications.
Why a chisel handle material matters?
The material of the handle matters because it is the part of the chisel that will receive the blow from a hammer or mallet. Most handles are made of wood, either dry or hardwood for added durability, while others are made of plastic and/or a compound material.
While plastic is easily replaceable, it’s also more easily damaged compared to wooden handles. To add, handles treated with strengthening agents are less likely to get damaged even with overbearing strikes.
What type of hammer to use with what chisel blade?
For woodworking and wood carving chisels, it’s recommended to use a wooden or regular mallet. A regular hammer is too stiff and is more likely to damage chisel handles as opposed to the more shock-absorbent mallet.
Basic techniques for using a chisel
Here are the different techniques on how to use a chisel on wood.
Alternatively, you can use a wood router.
Chop and pare
How to use a chisel to cut a groove?
You can use a chisel to make a groove in wood.
Make this more convenient and efficient by using other tools too. Begin by laying out your groove. Once that’s done, use a saw to cut out the edges at the right depth.
Break the material with a chisel at a distance of about 1cm, depending on the size of your workpiece. Once hollowed out, use the flat side of the blade to scrape, par, and finish the groove details.
How to make square holes using a chisel?
There are lot of ways to make square holes, but you also do so using a wood chisel.
You can be more delicate and precise by actually chopping out small, outlined squares, or get square mortising chisels and simply line it up where you wish to make a hole and strike.
Drive the chisel all the way through to get perfectly square holes. It’ll help to lightly cut out or scribe the hole edges at least.
How to use a chisel to trim wood edges?
Depending on the size and thickness of what needs to be trimmed, you might either need to drive the chisel with a mallet along an area or simply use your hands and treat the chisel-like a knife, taking off acute amounts of material via scraping or shaving.
One example is by using a chisel to chamfer the regularly flat corners of tendons and other joinery.
How to use wood chisel for a door hinge?
Creating a door hinge basically combines most of the previously mentioned cutting techniques and uses of a chisel. Begin by measuring the size of the hinge adapter and laying out the appropriate mortise to be cut.
Chop and par out the mortise until the hinge sits in perfectly flush. Smooth the mortise and trim accordingly before installing the hinge.
Tips when carving with chisels
Here are more tips on how to use a wood chisel correctly:
Safety tips when using a chisel
Here are the safety measures when using a wood chisel:
How to maintain your chisels?
When is it time to upgrade your set?
The only real-time you must upgrade your set is if they’re either too old or if you experience breakage. A chisel is only useful if it’s able to retain its sharp edge for long. Once edges become too dull or have warped and are beyond restoring, then it’s clearly time for an upgrade.
Woodworking, carving, and masonry all have their respective chisels. Simple as these tools may be, there’s no denying how efficient and convenient they are for removing material and smoothing out various surfaces.
In fact, some of the most impactful and vivid patterns known to man were made with a chisel. The straightforward chisel is indeed both an artistic and capable tool throughout man’s history.
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