10 Tips for Chisel Work:
If you need to make joints or trim components to fit or chop away defective wood, good sharp chisels are what you need… we show how to use them properly.
Once you’ve sawn your wood and planed it, the next stage is cutting joints and trimming components to fit. The perfect tool for this is a finely honed chisel so here is some useful advice for getting the best from your wood chisels.
1. Be sure to buy good quality branded chisels and look after them. Avoid accidental contact with nails and screws and they are definitely not for opening paint tin lids!
2. Learn how to sharpen correctly, preferably using a diamond plate, lapping fluid and importantly, a honing guide as it guarantees the correct angle and thus a sharp edge.
3. Pick a ‘short set’ of five or six chisels that will do most tasks from chopping mortises to fine paring cuts.
4. When you are joint cutting, marking out your wood accurately is essential. Use a ‘chisel edge pencil and an accurate square.
5. For mortising, chop within your marked lines and leave an area at each end so the chisel does not damage the wood when levering out chippings waste.
6. You can make the job easier by removing the bulk of the waste first with a spade bit or similar. Take care not to let the bit go over the marked lines.
7. To obtain neater edges you can use a wider paring chisel to cut a small bevel down to knife-cut lines instead of pencil-only lines. Do this before chopping out the bulk of the wood.
8. With halving and similar joints, make the side saw cuts then pare the wood away from one side then
turn the workpiece around and work from the other side. Aim the chisel slightly upwards to take less material away with each slice.
9. When paring, a swivelling action can make for a cleaner slice. Paring across a surface at an angle to the grain can have a similar result.
10. For site work, keep several chisels that will take more punishment and keep your good set in good condition… for bench work.