Making Chisels

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Forum topic by John posted 01-31-2017 02:01 AM 713 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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253 posts in 3576 days

01-31-2017 02:01 AM

Since screwdrivers are made of hardened steel, is it possible to heat to soften, reshape then reharden? My main reason I ask is cause I have had a couple of small projects where I need an 1/8” chisel but where I live, there’s none to be found. I would like to make a few small tools and screwdrivers are easy to come by.

-- John

12 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile


2559 posts in 1561 days

#1 posted 01-31-2017 02:13 AM

Won’t hurt to try. You could always just grind it without annealing and re-hardening. Just make sure that you don’t let it get hot enough to turn blue while you grind it. Just keep a cup of water next to the grinder and dip it before it gets too hot.

If you want to go the route of annealing, shaping, hardening and tempering, you might want to look up spark testing to see how much carbon is in the steel. This may give you a better idea how well you will be able to re-harden it afterwards. You probably want a steel that at list .50 % carbon. BTW, you will also want to temper the steel after you harden it so it is not too brittle. This means that you may want to remove it from the old handle because you have to put it in a toaster oven, for example, and most handles won’t take that kind of treatment.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Woodknack's profile


12399 posts in 2554 days

#2 posted 01-31-2017 03:04 AM

You’ll want good quality screwdrivers

-- Rick M,

View John 's profile


253 posts in 3576 days

#3 posted 01-31-2017 03:42 AM

I’ll have to look into this spark testing.

-- John

View TungOil's profile


1040 posts in 669 days

#4 posted 01-31-2017 04:29 AM

Maybe buy a cheap 1/4” chisel and grind it down?

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View SuperCubber's profile


1037 posts in 2458 days

#5 posted 01-31-2017 05:08 AM

What about an 1/8” drill bit? Grind the non fluted end and sick it into a handle.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View John 's profile


253 posts in 3576 days

#6 posted 01-31-2017 06:15 AM

The problem with converting a 1/4” chisel is the blades are not long but I might not have a choice.
The 1/8” drill bit option may work. I have a few that are approximately 8” long. Now why didn’the I think of that.
Thanks for your input.

-- John

View MustacheMike's profile


262 posts in 2263 days

#7 posted 01-31-2017 11:29 AM

Here is a video on that subject we did a while back

Don.t forget to subscribe if your not already.

-- You can trust Mike -" because I will never pull your stash!" See my show weekly at

View John 's profile


253 posts in 3576 days

#8 posted 01-31-2017 03:14 PM

Mike, I found your video last night while searching the tube. Great video! I like the way you made your point without loud unnecessary music in the background. Also found a few that some made from old files. I’m thinking I can get a nice Mortise Chisel from one of my old Harbor Freight files since they’re not any good for anything else. Thanks again for replying.

-- John

View Planeman40's profile


1273 posts in 2935 days

#9 posted 01-31-2017 03:36 PM

Try using concrete nails available at Lowes and Home Depot. These are hardened and have a broad flat head like hand cut nails that would make into a nice small chisel. Add a handle and you should be ready to go. And a box of them is CHEAP!

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View LittleShaver's profile (online now)


411 posts in 793 days

#10 posted 01-31-2017 06:53 PM

Old files work great. I inherited about 20 pounds of old chisels from my grandfather about 40 years ago. Been moving them all around the country all that time until about 2 years ago. That’s when I went on a “make your own tools” kick. I’ve made a set of chisels (1/8 – 1”), a plane, a bird cage awl, and a turning scraper out of old files.

It takes some time to get them into the proper shapes without bluing the steel. Lots of dipping in the bucket of water. A worn 180 grit belt on the belt sander seemed to work best to get rid of the file teeth. Lots of dipping in the bucket of water.
I still have 20 or so triangle files in the pile. Perhaps I’ll just pass them along to my son.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Andre's profile


2135 posts in 1980 days

#11 posted 01-31-2017 09:08 PM

I used an old small flat file, annealed it to shape then retempered.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View John 's profile


253 posts in 3576 days

#12 posted 01-31-2017 10:01 PM

Would have never even though of concrete nails. I’ll have to remember that one for small things. Seems like the old file thing is the best for me since i’m looking to make it as long as possible, kinda like a Mortise chisel. Again, thanks for everyone’s replys

-- John

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