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Forum topic by BubbaIBA posted 08-27-2014 04:10 PM 2662 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


08-27-2014 04:10 PM

There is a current thread on Narex Mortise chisels, not wanting to hijack that thread I will post this.

Let me say upfront I have not use the Narex brand but I have used similar “mortise” chisels by other makers. Most mortise chisels sold today fall into three broad categories: English “Pig Stickers”, Sash Mortise, and Heavy Duty Sash Mortise. Of the three only the English Pig Sticker is a true mortise chisel. The Sash Mortise is designed for light duty shallow mortises and will work for deeper mortises if you drill out the waste. The Narex mortise chisel appears to be a Sash Mortise chisel and for light duties it has a fair price, I’ve paid much more for Sash Mortise chisels. The Heavy Duty Sash Mortise chisel is a heavier version of the Sash Mortise chisel and will handle deeper mortises without the need to drill out the waste. They are not as comfortable nor as easy to use as a Pig Sticker but they will work, an example is the Lie Nielsen Mortise chisels.

The English Mortise chisel aka Pig Sticker, is a no compromise mortise chisel and is very highly evolved to make chopping mortises fast and accurate. If you chop mortises by hand, there is no better chisel. They are available on the used market and new from Ray Iles. I’ve both used and Ray Iles’ Pig Stickers. Of the two, new from Ray Iles is the best deal.

If you are looking for mortise chisels, pay the extra for a true mortise chisel for several reasons. The first is they simply work better, the second is you do not need a full set of mortise chisels. Two Pig Stickers a 1/4” and a 3/8” will do 95% of all your needed mortises, add a 1/2” and you have a full working set so the extra cost is minimum. Third is once bought, you have a life time tool that can not be improved on nor will it need replacing.

A Pig Sticker in action chopping a 1/2” mortise in beech, notice the size of chip:


25 replies so far

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theoldfart

8104 posts in 1915 days


#1 posted 08-27-2014 04:23 PM

couldn’t agree with you more

the other three in the role are sash mortise chisels

Edit, just as an aside, you wouldn’t want to try this with a sash chisel!

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


#2 posted 08-28-2014 02:14 AM

I wouldn’t want to do that with any chisel :-).

I have to take my hat off to you guys that make workbench through mortises. I’ve built a couple of benches lately all had the slab and base connected with blind mortises that were pinned.

My last bench base had 12 1/2” wide x 100mm long mortises chopped 60mm deep. For the 12 mortices I spent less than 3 hours total and I do not work fast, lots of time spent having tea, scratching the shop dog’s butt and checking progress.

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Wally331

341 posts in 1489 days


#3 posted 08-28-2014 02:21 AM

I’ve yet to try a pig sticker, however I do have two of the narexes. Even the smaller ones are ~7/16 in cross section about an inch from the ferrule/bolster. They are plenty heavy duty and well made. Of course the handles aren’t the prettiest or ovular in cross section, but I chop mortises pretty often in hard and soft woods and they perform admirably. Especially for $8 a piece. That said I’d love to have some pig stickers just for the cool factor ;).

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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


#4 posted 08-28-2014 02:21 AM

I wouldn’t want to do that with any chisel :-).

I have to take my hat off to you guys that make workbench through mortises. I’ve built a couple of benches lately all had the slab and base connected with blind mortises that were pinned.

My last bench base had 12 1/2” wide x 100mm long mortises chopped 60mm deep. For the 12 mortices I spent less than 3 hours total and I do not work fast, lots of time spent having tea, scratching the shop dog’s butt and checking progress.

Here is the almost finished bench with the 12 draw bored M/T joints:

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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


#5 posted 08-28-2014 02:28 AM



I ve yet to try a pig sticker, however I do have two of the narexes. Even the smaller ones are ~7/16 in cross section about an inch from the ferrule/bolster. They are plenty heavy duty and well made. Of course the handles aren t the prettiest or ovular in cross section, but I chop mortises pretty often in hard and soft woods and they perform admirably. Especially for $8 a piece. That said I d love to have some pig stickers just for the cool factor ;).

- Wally331

Wally,

I hadn’t thought about measuring but the 1/2” pig sticker is 20mm (about 7/8”) deep at that point. It’s more than the cool factor, they work better.

ken

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crank49

3981 posts in 2435 days


#6 posted 08-28-2014 03:21 PM

I don’t see the difference in my Narex mortise chisels and your pig sticker.
They certainly do not look like mortise sash chisels.

Not saying Narex is equal to Ray Iles, but other than the handle shape the blade seems to be very similar.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


#7 posted 08-28-2014 05:31 PM

It is good that your Narex mortice chisels work for you. they have a very good price.

Some folks do not like the English mortice chisel because of the weight and size, as always there are many ways to do the same job….some work well for one, some not so well.

BTW, after looking closer at the Narex mortice chisel I would probably class it as a Heavy Duty Sash Mortice chisel or a Firmer chisel even though it has a taper, not a Sash Mortice chisel. Not that it makes a hill of beans :-).

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walden

1552 posts in 1486 days


#8 posted 08-29-2014 01:59 AM

I love the pig stickers. I went with a 5/16 inch to take the place of the 1/4 and 3/8. I’ve been thinking about getting the 1/2 inch.

-- "I am hiring a realtor if and when the day comes a lion is on my roof."

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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


#9 posted 08-29-2014 02:16 AM



I love the pig stickers. I went with a 5/16 inch to take the place of the 1/4 and 3/8. I ve been thinking about getting the 1/2 inch.
- walden

It kinda depends on the size of work you do. You may be able to see in the photo my 1/2” has had little use other than this last bench build, The 3/8” is another story. That said, when making the last bench I wished for a 5/8”, shame they don’t come that big :-).

ken

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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


#10 posted 08-29-2014 02:37 AM

One more thought on chopping mortices. English Mortices chisels are not always the best choice. For wide and deep mortices there is nothing better but for small shallow mortices such as ones for top buttons a pig sticker is overkill. A sash mortice or even better a bevel edge bench chisel would be my choice.

I guess that is why my walls are covered with chisel racks, most have a purpose and will do that job better than one that has a different purpose. The ancients knew a thing or two about working wood, shame we have lost most of that knowledge.

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Manitario

2400 posts in 2347 days


#11 posted 08-29-2014 03:22 AM

thanks for posting this; I have Robert Sorby “mortise” chisels, which have never really worked well for me. Ordered a set of the Ray Iles today, really looking forward to having functional mortise chisels!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


#12 posted 08-29-2014 05:21 AM



thanks for posting this; I have Robert Sorby “mortise” chisels, which have never really worked well for me. Ordered a set of the Ray Iles today, really looking forward to having functional mortise chisels!

- Manitario

I have a set of Sorby mortice chisels, had ‘em for years in fact they were the first mortice chisels I purchased back in the 70’s. They never really worked that well for me either. I keep ‘em sharp and oiled but never use them.

I think you will find the Ray Iles’ chisels a pleasure to use.

ken

View Loren's profile

Loren

8303 posts in 3112 days


#13 posted 08-29-2014 07:01 AM

Usually when I mortise by hand it’s a delicate operation
with a short mortise with tender shoulders and I use
registered or sash mortise chisels. The pigsticker’s
geometry would get in the way.

I have mortising machines. Still, mortising by hand with a
heavy chisel made for the job is good fun and
I recommend hand mortising as a skill. It can
help liberate us from the shackles of table
saw type thinking… if you can cut a weird
mortise by hand you can cut a weird tenon and
before you know it you’re building curved stuff,
hacking together rough joints in odd functional
wood objects, making anything you like despite
your machines.

View Tim Anderson's profile

Tim Anderson

152 posts in 1194 days


#14 posted 08-29-2014 01:35 PM

I’ve been cutting all my mortises by hand with the woodriver chisels and never had a problem. Is there a real advantage to using one of these thicker mortising chisels? I could see it being easier to align with the wider chisel body, but other than that the operation seems like it is basically the same.

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

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BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1840 days


#15 posted 08-29-2014 02:19 PM


I ve been cutting all my mortises by hand with the woodriver chisels and never had a problem. Is there a real advantage to using one of these thicker mortising chisels? I could see it being easier to align with the wider chisel body, but other than that the operation seems like it is basically the same.

- Tim Anderson

Tim,

You are correct, the operation of chopping mortices is the same….place chisel, whack chisel, lever chisel, repeat until everything that is not a mortice is removed. It can and has been done using a sharpened screwdriver and I would expect in the hands of an expert a screwdriver chopped mortice would be as good as or better than one chopped by the best mortice chisel made in the hands of the average woodworker. That said, almost any operation will be done better and with greater ease using the best tool for the job. An example would be removing or tightening a bolt, you can do it using a “monkey wrench” but it works better using the correct “SnapOn” socket and ratchet.

A Pig Sticker is like the SnapOn tool, it is designed to do one thing and that is to chop mortices. The shape of the handle and the iron have evolved over time to maximize the efficiency of that job.

Of course as always…..YMMV.

ken

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