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Bench chisel or dovetail chisel for all joinery work?

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Forum topic by DavidL41 posted 03-29-2015 10:31 PM 686 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DavidL41

11 posts in 622 days


03-29-2015 10:31 PM

For those who own bench chisels and dovetail chisels do you recommend getting a dovetail chisel for dovetails, mortise and tenon and general work? How well does a bench chisel perform dovetails – does the side bevel scrape the wood?


3 replies so far

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djwong

167 posts in 2681 days


#1 posted 03-30-2015 04:41 AM

Bench chisels will work fine for dovetails and all general work. Specialized chisels work more efficiently and possibly faster for their intended purpose. Unless you are working with very skinny pins, bench chisel sides are not a big problem. You can use a small chisel and skew it to get into the corners.

I have a set of bench chisels, and a few specialized chisels, particularly for mortising. I find mortising chisels are quicker and feel more guided. Less of a tendency to turn. For shallow mortises in 3/4” stock, I just use bench chisels.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2190 posts in 942 days


#2 posted 03-30-2015 11:44 AM


For those who own bench chisels and dovetail chisels do you recommend getting a dovetail chisel for dovetails, mortise and tenon and general work? How well does a bench chisel perform dovetails – does the side bevel scrape the wood?

- DavidL41

I don’t know there is such a thing as a “dovetail chisel” but IMO if you want to do high quality dovetails you need chisels with a very thin side where the side bevel meets the cutting edge.

You are correct a thick side will mar the wood if you try to chop to close to the corner on the tails. You have to get it close and do a lot of paring with any chisel. I find a #1 single bevel fishtail gouge works really well. This is especially true doing 1/2 blinds but I’ve seen many masters to excellent 1/2 blinds with just bench chisels.

FWW did a good chisel review and this is one of the things they measured. If my memory serves, Ashely Liles and Lie Nielsen had the lowest sides. Narex wasn’t bad (this is what I have). Some, like the Irwin Marples, and any of the cheap chisels, have very thick sides. I have a 1/2” Stanley 750 socket chisel and I’m not that impressed. My Narex has thinner sides than the Stanley and overall the chisel is just too light for my taste.

Bottom line is you can do dovetails even with cheap bench chisels if they are flat and sharp.
As your skill increases, you will get tired of bruised tail corners and the aggravation with extra paring.

My recommendation is have a decent set of bench chisels plus keep a couple “ultimate” chisels for dovetail work, like Lie Nielsen or Ashley Liles.

Or just do what I did: Premium Narex set and a fishtail gouge for cleanup.
I would recommend just 2 sizes: 1/8 and a 3/8. This will do most of your work. You can still chop wide tails with a wider regular bench chisel.

Although I’ve never tried it, I think you could grind the side bevel down if you were careful.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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sikrap

1121 posts in 2820 days


#3 posted 03-31-2015 01:30 PM

IMHO, mortises should be done with a mortise chisel. As for dovetails, I’d agree that you can get pretty close with bench chisels and can get into the corners with several options; dovetail chisel, fishtail chisel, or skew chisel. If money is tight, its pretty easy to take an old bench chisel and make it a skew chisel. Of course, you’ll want a right hand version and a left hand version, but they can be made from a couple of old 1/2” chisels.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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