Chisel Basics


In this tutorial the modern chisel is presented. Chisels have been in use in woodworking shops for centuries and are a very versatile tool. Chisel use can range from fine tuning joints to paring wood to creating the actual joinery. Chisels are but one tool in the hand tool arsenal which every fine furniture shop should strive to acquire. The first part of the tutorial describes the different types of chisels and their uses. Following this section, an intro to chisel and paring techniques is described.

The subsequent section offers some step by step sequences on how to effectively use the chisel to create both a stopped rabbet and a mortise for a small hinge. There is also a step by step sequence of cleaning and tuning a corner joint which has been previously roughed out on a bandsaw. Workshops can be primarily machine oriented at one extreme and primarily hand tool oriented at the other extreme. In between we have hybrid workshops which benefit from both machinery and hand tools. I tend to favor the workshop which allows one to utilize machinery to process wood from the rough stage and then use hand tools in the later stages of furniture making.

Very often, it is more expedient to simply tune a joint or create a joint using chisels rather than go to the trouble of setting up machinery to do the same task. The dust free and quiet environment which chisels provide is a large advantage for the small shop or where noise is an issue. I use chisels extensively in my furniture making workshop. As an example, the dovetails in the furniture I create are made exclusively with chisels and small dovetail saws. This tutorial with video will answer many questions you have about chisels and their use in the workshop.