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Getting the most from your chisels

Submitted by WOOD community member WOOD Magazine StaffSubmit a Shop Guide
  • 1-2-3 Mortising

    To hand-cut a mortise with a mortising chisel, begin by chopping out chips between your scribed lines, leaving 116 " at the ends. Move the chisel about 18 " at a time, and strike it with a mallet. Then pry out the chips. Make a triangular pattern to the desired depth; then begin back-cutting the rest to match that depth. Finish by cutting away the remaining 116 " at each end.

  • Chisel out a perfect hinge

    Step 1, begin by making a series of angled "chops," keeping back 116 " from the ends and back.

  • Step 2: pare away chips

    Step 2, hold the chisel parallel to the edge of the workpiece and pare away the chips.

  • Step 3: light cuts until hinge fits

    Step 3, clean up the bottom and perimeter walls with light cuts until the hinge fits snugly.

  • Hand-cut half-blind dovetails with only a pair of chisels and a mallet

    Remove the socket waste with a bench chisel, keeping 116 " from the scribed sides and back.

  • Removing chips

    After making a vertical cut, counter with a horizontal cut to remove the chip.

  • Pare away the sidewalls

    Pare the angled sidewalls down to the bottom of the sockets.

  • Pare away the back walls

    Using a clamped-on guide board, pare away the final material from the back walls.

  • Clean corners

    Finally, use a skew chisel to clean out the corners to finish the sockets.

  • Perfect finish

    Now you have two perfect pin sockets for a project part, such as an inset drawer front.

  • More information

    For information on selecting the best chisel for your needs, view All about wood chisels.

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