Dovetail chisels DIY (skewed, fishtail and left, right dovetail versions) blog #1: *Intro, info, challenge and materials*

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Blog entry by mafe posted 01-12-2011 03:18 PM 15482 reads 6 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Dovetail chisels DIY (skewed, fishtail and left, right dovetail versions) blog series Part 2: *Chisel handles on the lathe * »

Intro, info, challenge and materials
low budget, high pleasure

Ok I made it! dovetails in my tooltote project, but learned my tools were not the best for this job.
First of all my Bahco 434-50 Bevel Edge Chisel are made for contractors (demanding carpentry, whatever that means), not for cabinet work, the backs are not completely flat, the sides are slightly rounded, the bevel sides are too high and the handles are too long for me to pare with, besides that they are really nice, and I will actually recommend them for construction site use since they are with split proof two component ergonomic grip, can take some nasty repeated hammer blows, will not rust, and take a excellent durable edge but for cabinet making and workshop use, I give them thumbs down.
(So yes I am on the lookout for the money to buy a nasty set now, and have my eyes on the Iles UK).

So this lead me to do some investigation on this subject, and I realized my pension was not a well match for a set of good dovetail chisels, so as we say in Denmark ‘need learns the naked woman to spin’, even I’m always dressed while in the work shop…


This was where it all started, I purchased a old toolbox full of tools from UK, amongst the tools was a old tool roll with chisels, most of them was not beveled and in a bad condition, so I put them aside for future use… (Now).

The challenge:
To make a set of chisels for dovetails out of those old English chisels.
Turn new handles.
Flatten the backs.
Make new profiles on the steel;
A fish tail chisel.
A left and a right ‘dovetail’ chisel set (sides at maximum 45 degree and almost to the back).
A left and right skew chisel set.

The materials:

Here they are the old crooks, all has served their first life well, and deserve with no doubt a new one in better clothes…

And here a old table leg found in the street years ago, hardwood of some kind…

Destinies are now determined.

I’ll split the blog up here, so it does not become too long for a ISDN connection…

Press here for part two.

Hope this winged dovetail tour can be to inspiration,

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

7 comments so far

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 2767 days

#1 posted 01-12-2011 03:35 PM

My dad always said “some people can turn nothing into something and some people can only turn something into nothing”. You sir are of that first category. I can’t wait to see the rest of the blog.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View helluvawreck's profile


31082 posts in 2865 days

#2 posted 01-12-2011 03:40 PM

Mads, this looks a fun challenge for you to undertake. I shall watch with interest and anticipate a learning experience. Thanks for all of the wonderful posts.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3075 days

#3 posted 01-12-2011 03:50 PM

Very cool!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View HerbC's profile (online now)


1756 posts in 2858 days

#4 posted 01-12-2011 05:30 PM


Looks like a great project.

And: Keep talking about spinning naked ladies and I may have to visit Denmark ;)

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3114 days

#5 posted 01-13-2011 12:46 AM

no bevelon the side and English cheisels hmmm
it most be some sash-cheisels ,they were made for a heavyer punch with the mallet
I will look forward to read the other toturials :-)

take care

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3269 days

#6 posted 01-13-2011 01:00 AM

I just recently made myself a cabinet skew chisel from an old rusted tool I found at a garage sale… those old tools (heavy duty metal and most of all CHEAP)....I have been making my own lathe tools from old ones (I find them at yard sales and swap meets) and you just cant beat having a custom tool that is made for the type of work at hand and the much cheaper price then buying them new – not to mention that even the more expensive new tools can be very cheaply made.

I am looking forward to watching your progress here….I have some cabinetry chisels I have collected over the years….but would be nice to put together a matching set.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3088 days

#7 posted 01-13-2011 05:10 PM

Hi there,
reggiek, I have saved also some old chisels to make some special tools for the lathe in the future, will love to see yours.
Just follow the links, it’s all there now.
Dennis, here some info
Where to buy:
Herb, my GF are French…
Dan, ;-)
helluvawreck, happy if you do, I always enjoy when you are arround.
ShopTinker, that was a wonderful compliment thank you, it touched me. My daddy always just said ‘you can do better’...
Best thoughts and a big smile,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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