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Forum topic by gandis posted 11-03-2014 03:10 PM 971 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1303 days

11-03-2014 03:10 PM

Hello all, have been searching this and other forums for the past few days, but can’t seem to find an answer.

I need a chisel to cut out a large mortise (1.5×3.5”) from a 6×6” wooden post. I don’t want to spend much.
But with research it seems like a tedious process just to get a working chisel. I have to buy the chisel, sharpening stones, and a honing jig, and sharpen, hone, and straighten the chisel.

Are there any other solutions? I just want one decent working chisel, without having to buy several other tools and accessories to have the tool work.

9 replies so far

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3070 days

#1 posted 11-03-2014 03:21 PM

If this is a one-off project and you don’t want to spend $100+ up front on sharpening stones, you can use sandpaper on a flat surface instead. Look up the “scary sharp method.”

You only have to flatten the back once, and once you get the chisel sharp, you only have to keep it sharp—you don’t have to go all the way back down to the coarsest grit unless the end of the chisel gets chipped.

If you have a drill press, you can use a Forstner bit to hog out the bulk of the mortise, then clean up the edges and square up the corners with your chisel.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View waho6o9's profile


8191 posts in 2576 days

#2 posted 11-03-2014 03:29 PM

Are there any other solutions?

Hire a professional….

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1335 days

#3 posted 11-03-2014 09:08 PM

Get a Narex mortise chisel and bang away at that mortise. You will have better results by hogging out most of the wood with a drill press. If you don’t have a drill press I’ve gotten fairly decent results with a spade bit and a hand held drill. Narex mortise chisels are inexpensive and hold an edge reasonably well. As it dulls just use wet dry sandpaper on a flat surface to sharpen the edge. I find it easier to go side to side instead of front to back on the sandpaper. Good luck.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View richardwootton's profile


1699 posts in 1954 days

#4 posted 11-03-2014 09:24 PM

I go side to side also when sharpening. I also have the Narex mortise chisels and like them quite a bit even though I haven’t really put them through a lot of heavy work.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2922 days

#5 posted 11-03-2014 09:55 PM

If you have a router and a long straight bit, you can use it to rough out the mortice, and then use the chisel to square off the corners or it might be easier to round off the tenon edges to match the mortice.
Make a template from hardboard or plywood, clamp down to the post, take multiple passes and it will be done a whole lot faster than any other way. You still need a chisel for the corners if you go that way.

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2632 days

#6 posted 11-03-2014 10:06 PM

Buy a cheap 1.5” chisel and a 400-600-800 grit sandpaper variety pack to sharpen. Go up to 1000 grit if you want extra credit.
It’ll get the job done just fine. Sharpen it by hand as needed. See youtube for guidance. No need to make it hard unless you really want to. I have 2-3 jigs and 3-4 stones that have barely seen the light of day in years. A couple minutes on some sandpaper and finish on a leather strop with green buffing compound. Done.

View Tony_S's profile


868 posts in 3082 days

#7 posted 11-04-2014 01:05 AM

From the tone of your post, you just want to chisel out one mortise and then throw the chisel in a drawer and not look at it again….until you need a screwdriver or a paint scraper? Right? LOL!

If so, don’t worry about all the sharpening articles your read….those are for batshit crazy hobbyists/pro’s who’s chisel’s are like a 6th digit (even then, some of that stuff is way over the top(obsession?))

If it is a one time thing, buy a cheap 1” chisel, bulk out the majority of the mortise as mentioned above with a drill press or hand drill/spade bit…and then hack and slash the rest of it with the chisel.
You can touch the chisel up with some 180/220 grit sandpaper on a flat surface before and during if you need to. You don’t need to be able to shave with it, or have a mirror back on it to accomplish that one task.

Progress and learn as/if needed.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1934 days

#8 posted 11-04-2014 01:11 PM

Agree with Tedstor. Buck bros chisels from Home depot are decent chisels. It doesn’t really need to be THAT sharp if it is a one time use thing. Sandpaper will work fine.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2617 days

#9 posted 11-04-2014 01:19 PM

Store-bought chisels are useable for single jobs in, for example, a 6×6 post. When you reach for it in a few months and it doesn’t seem to cut as well as it used to, it’ll be time to figure out some type of sharpening approach. That approach can be as simple as clamping your belt sander upside down and putting a fresh edge on the chisel…

Reach for it routinely, for progressively finer work, and your sharpening needs will become clearer.

Bottom line, get a chisel, do the job, go on from there. You don’t have to know how to sharpen a chisel before buying one.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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