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.
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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

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

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

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.


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.