A couple of questions about chiseling

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Forum topic by Texchappy posted 05-02-2012 08:55 PM 1313 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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252 posts in 2218 days

05-02-2012 08:55 PM

I was going to start to ask about getting into grifting but decided it best not to announce that decision so I had to come up with a couple of woodworking questions so here goes.

What are the best mortice chisels? what do you look for etc? Brands would be ok too.

Why are chiseling mallets round?

So I have this friend who’s a Nigerian prince…

-- Wood is not velveeta

9 replies so far

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2262 days

#1 posted 05-02-2012 09:12 PM

I can answer one of those questions:

Chiseling mallets are round to allow the user to focus less on the striking and more on what the sharp end of the chisel is doing.

That’s probably not the whole reason (the grain of the mallet may also be more durable in that alignment when striking chisels), but it’s something.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2218 days

#2 posted 05-02-2012 09:57 PM

Thanks for the reply Doss, that makes sense.

I’ve been eyeing blue spruce tools but they have butt chisels and not mortise chisels which to the uneducated eye (mine) look to be similar. Are they?

-- Wood is not velveeta

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2969 days

#3 posted 05-02-2012 10:49 PM

No. Butt chisels are short and designed to be pushed with the palm of your hand.
A mortise chisel is very thick, has square sides, and a very tough handle , usually with steel or brass rings around its ends to keep it from splitting.

View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2374 days

#4 posted 05-02-2012 10:59 PM

Ray Iles makes “pig sticker” style chisels which have a reasonable price.

Most of the other chisels sold as mortice chisels are what at one time were called sash mortice chisels, a lighter duty chisel than the English pig sticker.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3357 days

#5 posted 05-02-2012 11:30 PM

Another vote here for the Ray Iles. The 3/8” is about $85, but its worth it.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3106 days

#6 posted 05-02-2012 11:52 PM

Doss is correct. Round mallets allow the user to strike without having to concentrate fully on the mallet to handle contact. Since the mallet is round, the sweet spot for striking is pretty much everywhere and the risk of a bad hit propelling the chisel in another direction is minimal. When chiseling, the focal point of concentration should be blade/wood contact not on the handle.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2374 days

#7 posted 05-03-2012 12:16 AM

I’m not knocking Blue Spruce chisels, they are beautifully made by hand and if you want the sizzle along with the steak I’m sure they are worth every penny they cost, but if you want a cost effective tool to work wood one of the best ways to go is pre-WWII high carbon steel with a handle you have turned to fit your hand and the expected job. For a little more than the cost of a short set of Blue Spruce chisels you can buy a lathe to turn the handles, a wall full of pre-WWII iron of various shapes and widths along with your wood of chose for the handles.

BTW, I will give Blue Spruce credit for making a thin blade paring chisel, most modern chisels have thick blades better suited for carpentry than woodworking i.e. all the 750 clones of which I own a few. Most of the time I will reach for one of my Union Hardware or other thiner blade chisels before one of the modern 750 clones. YMMV.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3113 days

#8 posted 05-03-2012 12:21 AM

thats why a round mallet is prefered by carvers
but there is flatended mallets too if you want a bigger impact on the blow
ex. when you use a mortissechisel like the pigsticker


View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2374 days

#9 posted 05-03-2012 12:38 AM

“Another vote here for the Ray Iles. The 3/8” is about $85, but its worth it.

—Dave, Colonie, NY”

It is hard to find a good used pig sticker for less than $40-$50 USD and even at that price the handle most likely will need replacing and the iron may be short. At around $90 USD I think the Ray Iles is a bargain. Most of the time I advocate pre-WWII chisels because of the quality of the steel and the different style blades available but because of the scarcity of pig stickers and the abuse most have taken, I believe the Ray Iles English pig sticker is the most cost effective mortice chisel.

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