Cleaning up mortises in 8/4 ash

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Forum topic by Dan posted 04-04-2012 10:50 PM 1529 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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106 posts in 3062 days

04-04-2012 10:50 PM

Topic tags/keywords: chisel chop

I am working on my 21st century workbench and have a problem. I have a set of the new Stanley bench chisels. I drilled out most of the waste with a Forster bit but I am stuck on the cleanup. I tried cleaning up the end grain portion of the mortises by chopping with the bench chisel.

I sharpened them with the hollow grind method and they are razor sharp. After I tried the first chop I noticed that the chisel tip basically made little chips in the edge. After the second chop the chips became very large. Am I just using the wrong tool for the job? Is the material just too hard for my bench chisels?

-- Will work for wood...

11 replies so far

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3188 days

#1 posted 04-04-2012 10:54 PM

I used a couple of mortise chisels on my bench and they worked beautifully. I don’t have experience with Ash, so I can’t speak to that.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Dan's profile


106 posts in 3062 days

#2 posted 04-04-2012 11:07 PM

Thanks Brandon. I wonder if bench chisels just can’t handle it.

-- Will work for wood...

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2596 days

#3 posted 04-05-2012 12:51 AM

you may well have to re-grind and hone once or twice until you get to some good steel. This is a well-known phenomenon wherein the heat-treating does not extend to the very edge. Two other thoughts—try a steeper angle (27-30 degrees), and/or lose the hollow grind. I personally do not hollow grind my chisels—I like the additional steel as edge support. But then, I’m also not a proponent of microbevels.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3159 days

#4 posted 04-05-2012 12:58 AM

I second what Doc said.

-- Life is good.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3219 days

#5 posted 04-05-2012 04:35 AM

i made my bench with ash; and my standard bench chisels, had no problem taking on the end grain.
so it must be either your steel or not honed enough. i honed my edges to a mirror finish.i use a tormek which is easier to get that mirrored finish.

View Drew Nyman's profile

Drew Nyman

19 posts in 2504 days

#6 posted 04-05-2012 04:41 AM

Make sure you strop the feather edge off your chisels before you use them. Yes, In a perfect world, You would have a mortice chisel but a bench chisel should work.

-- Don't be in such a hurry, do it right the first time.

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3813 days

#7 posted 04-05-2012 05:01 AM

given the type of bench you making I’m guessing you trying not to use power tools? If It were me I would use a templet and a router with a spiral up cut router bit.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2891 days

#8 posted 04-05-2012 07:06 PM

When mortising in havey wood like that I like to have a 35 degree bevel on the edge (and take small but deep bites), if the steal still chips then you can say your temper is messed up.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Dan's profile


106 posts in 3062 days

#9 posted 04-05-2012 07:15 PM

I’ll try to re-hone the edges. I’d rather not regrind all of my chisels to 35 degrees just to grind them back to 27 again. I did go get some mortising chisels and things are going much better. I do think that the temper is not all the way up to the edge because even paring I am seeing the edges chipping. I’ll grind them back and resharpen to see if that solves the issue.

-- Will work for wood...

View cabmaker's profile


1744 posts in 3045 days

#10 posted 04-05-2012 08:23 PM

27-35 I dont think will make that much differance. Ash is an easy wood to wotk with with most types of cutting instraments. Sounds like yu have a dull chisel. The hollow grind shouldnt hinder the operation at all, so I dont think that is lending itself to the situation at all. Are you sure you ground to a razor sharp edge ? You may want to do some honing by your method of choice.

View BobLang's profile


160 posts in 3636 days

#11 posted 04-05-2012 11:37 PM

Ash isn’t the hardest wood in the world, but it isn’t soft either. I would argue that the chisels aren’t really “razor sharp”, and a steeper angle might help. A few rounds of honing, or a bit of grinding to get past the new edge of your chisels may be the answer. Experiment with one chisel to find out what works rather than regrind them all.

-- Bob Lang,

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