Seems to be another rash of
chisel talk going on. It comes in bunches.
Chisels must be one of the most obvious
first entries into Galootdom, and then it sticks with us as long as
the disease has any strength in us at all.
The minty, lovely chisel is as
irresistible as the siren's call to every one of us, and the badly
abused forlorn and forgotten chisel? Well one look and we
can't help but want to nurture it back into full working condition
to take it's rightful place into the rack or the roll. And it
just never ends. I do love it so...
My latest, inspired from many places,
is a dovetail chisel. I had a spare 3/8" straight side
knocking around unloved and decided it would be a good size for
chopping and paring out tails.
So I rustled up a handle for it on the
lathe, another new pattern of course. Just what struck my
fancy at the time.
The blade got ground with deep hollows
running all the way back. Relieving plenty of steel to get
down into the sharply angled tail. It's not too hard to do
freehand once you let yourself get into it.
Grinding a hollow is like falling into
a pocket and once established you keep to the pocket and keep the
steel moving across the wheel. Where the parts are thick you
can lean a little harder and when approaching the thin sections you
need to let up.
Once you get your hollow established you then
stay inside the hollow but put more pressure toward the top or
bottom to even it up so they match. Grinding the shoulders and
keeping them even is the toughest part, you'll see.
I like to do it barehanded so you can
feel when the tool is getting hot and needs to be dipped again in
the bucket. This chisel should now be good for all the
grinding / honing it's ever going to see.
You want to check the blade of your
project chisel with a straightedge. When a chisel has been
pounded with a steel hammer sometimes more than the socket takes
abuse. It's difficult to straighten a bent chisel blade.
The only sure way to straighten a bent
chisel is to heat it full red and knock it back flat with hammer and
anvil. This also means you must then re-harden and temper it
If the chisel is to be a showpiece or
an important antique or something, this is what you do. There
has been plenty said in many books and on the web. Rev. Ron
a nicely written piece on it, on his site. Sometimes you can press
it out with 3 hard steel rods and a heavy vise.
If you are willing to take a big risk,
because it isn't important enough a chisel to fire the forge over,
this is what I do. Place 2 rods on the ends of the concave side
and the third in the middle of the convex and press considerably
further than you need because the blade will spring back
I get around 50/50 results this way. Half
straighten out just fine and the other half snap with a crack.
It's a big risk but it's quick.
Yeah yeah, I know, placing three
vertical steel rods with a chisel in-between, into a vise jaw and
getting it to stay there while you draw up the screw enough to hold
it, is a Laurel and Hardy moment, but it's what works. You'll
get it on your 11th try or thereabouts. From there it gets
The famous Spotted Gum of AU is
generally known to be able to break up a hardened ball pein hammer
head, or just about! You can add a hoop on top if the style
pleases you, or if you are planning to mortise logs with it.
But for general bench work you certainly shouldn't have to have one.