Wood chisels are essential tools in any carpenter's arsenal, providing a way in which to do anything from cut a mortise to smooth a wood surface. New carpenters who are just exploring their hand tool options, in lieu of power tools, may need some basic information on how to operate these tools safely and effectively. By learning some central techniques, newcomers to the world of woodworking can acquire the skills they need to use carpentry tools such as chisels well.
Popular categories of wood chisels
Wood chisels come in many varieties, each of which has its own applications. The most common types of wood chisels are bench chisels, which have bevelled edges and woodworkers use them widely in cabinetry and furniture making. Heavy-duty bevelled chisels show up more in shipbuilding or large-scale timbre work. Finally, mortise chisels are essential carpenter tools used to cut mortises, the female components of mortise and tenon joints.
Techniques for using a wood chisel
Basic techniques for using a chisel give carpenters the ability to cut out joints and shape wood. Each of these techniques takes time and patience to master adequately, as carpenters must accustom themselves to the weight of the chisel and how it cuts into wood.
Cutting mortises with a chisel
By using a mortise chisel, carpenters can form the cut-out needed to join a piece of wood with a tenon end on another piece of wood, creating a joint. To do this, they should first demarcate the width of the mortise by scoring the wood with a utility knife. Then, working with the grain, they should place the chisel with the bevel edge towards the wood at a shallow angle so that it does not dig too deep into the wood. Depending on the strength of the wood, carpenters should then either push or tap the chisel through the wood. If the chisel cuts too deep because the grain of the wood is guiding it, they should switch to the opposite direction.
Chopping with a chisel
In some instances, carpenters come across large chunks of wood in a cut-out section that they need to remove quickly and easily. In these scenarios, they can use a larger bench chisel to chop out this wood. To do this, carpenters should place the edge of the chisel pointing directly down into the wood where it needs cutting with the bevelled edge facing away from the main section of wood from which they are removing the wood. Using a hammer, carpenters should then strike down on the chisel, working in 12 mm sections until the entire piece comes away.
Scraping with a chisel
Chisels can also be effective tools for scraping out imperfections on wood surfaces or removing glue from joints. To do this, carpenters should place the chisel perpendicular to the wood with the bevelled edge facing away from them and grasp it with their fingers by either side of the blade. They should then carefully level the blade, scraping the surface of the wood with the tip of the chisel, providing just enough pressure to remove surface substances and imperfections without digging into the wood.
Paring wood with a chisel
Another useful technique to leverage with a wood chisel is using it to pare away thin layers on a joint or surface to create a better fit with other components. To do this, carpenters should place the unbevelled side of a chisel flat against the cutting surface and then push lightly in across the surface to shave thin layers from the top. It is also a good idea to work in an arcing motion instead of driving the chisel across the wood in a straight line, as this helps the stroke maintain momentum and work evenly across the wood.
How to buy a wood chisel on eBay
You can find any chisel necessary for a woodworking project on eBay. Start the process by looking for the search bar available on any page of the site. If you enter keyword terms describing the chisel you want, you get a list of all the products related to those terms. You can then review your results and click on individual items to get a closer look at their details.
Working with a chisel is a crucial technique for any burgeoning carpenter. By getting to know the main types of chisels and reviewing some essential techniques, anyone can start to use this tool effectively in the workshop.