As your woodworking skills grow and your interests broaden, you’ll soon discover that even a great set of bench chisels won’t suffice for every job. That's where specialty chisels earn their keep. For five specific tasks, here are our favorite models.
Advertisement
Photo of chisel and joint

Task: Fitting dovetails

Blue Spruce dovetail chisels

1⁄2" chisel (shown below); 4-chisel set (1⁄8", 1⁄4", 3⁄8", and 1⁄2")

Photo of Blue Spruce dovetail chisel

Out of the box, we were pleased to find the A2-steel blades flat and polished to a mirror finish, and the cutting edge honed to a sharp microbevel. Unlike a flat beveled edge, the concave edges on the 1⁄8"-thick blades helped these chisels get into tight spaces, such as when chopping dovetail sockets or bow-tie mortises. Besides the dazzling (and comfortable) figured-maple handles, you can buy these with more-affordable beech handles. Buy them individually in 11 sizes from 1⁄8" to 1-1⁄2", or in sets.

Blue Spruce Toolworks
877-828-0332, bluesprucetoolworks.com

Task: Cleaning out angled corners

Narex skew chisels

no. 10S1517

Photo of Narex chisel

You'll love these value-priced right- and left-angled 1⁄2"-wide chisels for cleaning out half-blind dovetail sockets.

Lee Valley
800-871-8158, leevalley.com

Task: Squaring router-cut corners

Robert Sorby corner chisels

3⁄8" no. 85S0701; 1" no. 85S0703

Photo of Robert Sorby corner chisel

When you rout a mortise or rabbet in an assembled frame or carcase to fit a recessed lock, panel, glass, or mirror, this chisel squares up the corners cleaner and quicker than one of those stubby spring-loaded hammer-strike chisels.

Lee Valley
800-871-8158, leevalley.com

Task: Flush-trimming adjoining surfaces

WoodRiver bent paring chisels

1" chisel, no. 157919; set of 4 chisels (1⁄4", 1⁄2", 3⁄4", 1"), no. 100141

Photo of WoodRiver bent chisel

Whether you're shaving a joint flush or scraping glue squeeze-out, these affordable angled chisels work well.

Woodcraft
800-225-1153, woodcraft.com

Task: Tight-quarters work

WoodRiver butt chisels

Set of 4 chisels (1⁄4", 1⁄2", 3⁄4", 1"), no. 152169

Photo of WoodRiver butt chisels

Inevitably, you'll need to chisel in a spot where your long-handled chisels can't fit, and the 6-1⁄2" length of these four makes that easier. 

Woodcraft
800-225-1153, woodcraft.com