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Tip #167
Woodworking Chisel Basics - Part 1

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There are dozens of different types of woodworking chisels available. Most of this extensive variety falls within the carving chisel category...and we'll reserve our comments on these for a later time.

Here's the first of a two-part look at the "basic" types of chisels that are most commonly found in the woodworking shop.

Chisel blade types and uses:

Bench or Paring Chisels... typically have thin blades with beveled side edges. Those with shorter blades are normally classified as Bench Chisels while those with longer blades are usually called Paring Chisels. Both of these styles are designed primarily for carefully shaving away small amounts of stock...and NOT for cutting deep mortises or removing large amounts of material in a hurry. Bevel-edged Bench and Paring Chisels are best used by pushing them with your hands for maximum control...and should not be struck with a hammer or mallet.

Butt Chisels...have blades that are a bit thicker and shorter than Bench and Paring Chisels. This makes them stronger and better suited for working in tight locations. This extra strength and thickness means they can be struck with a hammer or mallet.

Firmer Chisels...have thick, rectangular-shaped blades, usually with straight (not beveled) edges. They are designed for heavy use in removing larger amounts of material and are normally struck with a hammer or mallet.

Mortising Chisels...have rugged blades that are often thicker than they are wide. They are designed to chop the waste out of deep mortises and joinery and are normally struck with a hammer or mallet.

NEXT WEEK - More Chisel Basics...

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