In our last article, we spoke about how valuable chisels can be when you incorporate them into your collection of most reliable hand tools. We’re not finished yet, though! Chisels have many other vital roles to play:
Making Corners True
Squaring a corner is an easy job when you have a good chisel, such as with a well-finished rabbet. The first step is use a vertical hold on your chisel so that it’s easy to expand each side into the corner. Next, take a side cut into the rabbet to trim out waste. You can turn your chisel over once you reach the bottom of the rabbet, using its bevel pressed flat against the surface.
Fitting Hardware Into Insets
Flush hardware is an attractive feature for any piece. By tucking set hinges or other bits of hardware into mortises, you can make them lie totally flush. A knife blade makes an excellent tool for tracing the outline of the hardware you intend to inset. You’ll want to keep your chisel straight up and down over the surface and keep the rear of the blade right on the line. Cut down to the depth you’re looking for. The chisel will make it easy to clear out the mortise you’ve just created. Remember to keep the bevel facing down for this work!
Either a backsaw or a chisel are appropriate to rough out the sides of a dado. Pick out a chisel with a useful width and use it to remove waste. You can keep the chisel straight and aligned all the way to the end of the dado (producing a neat bottom) by using a gauge block made from scrap. Once you’ve got things well under way the guide won’t be necessary. A small notepad is a handy tool for getting your gauge block to line up to the right depth. Flipping a few pages will let you match your target depth exactly. Don’t forget to work from either end of the piece if you want to avoid tearout!
No matter how fancy power tools get, there will always be a place for the humble chisel. When these handy tools are maintained well, kept sharp, and used with skill, they can make a terrific contribution to any woodworking job. You’ll find a million and one reasons to be grateful when you know how to use a fine chisel!
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Ted Leger –
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