Butt Chisel - Fine Woodworking Tool Review
  • Pin It
Butt Chisel

Crown Tools - Butt Chisel

These short-handled butt chisels feature rosewood handles and Sheffield steel blades.

$15 to 17 each (As of 12/1/2002)

(4 user reviews) Write a Review

Editor's Review:

by William Tandy Young

review date: December 1, 2002

When I started buying hand tools, one of my luckiest finds was a set of butt chisels. Although they’re not top-quality tools, they have served me well for a good many years. Their short length makes them easy to handle, allowing for lots of control when paring or chopping. The tools are so useful that I’m always on the lookout for a higher-quality set.

That’s why a set of rosewood-handle butt chisels made by Crown Tools of Sheffield, England, caught my eye. Although generally smaller than most butt chisels, they’re heftier, with stout shanks and thick blades.

While tuning them up, I found I could flatten the backs of the blades without difficulty. And later, when the chisels were put to work, the steel proved to be surprisingly good—so good, in fact, that they take and hold an edge better than the steel in my vintage Marples cabinetmaker’s chisels.

The handles are quite small, which makes these chisels handy for getting into tight spaces. But when I hold the chisels for paring, my hands tend to swallow the handles.

The Crown Tools butt chisels are available in seven sizes (1/4 in. to 1 in.).

Editor Test Results:

Toughness ranking N/A

Manufacturer Specifications

Manufacturer Crown Tools
Manufacturer's Web Site
Manufacturer's Phone Number
Blade Size N/A
Rockwell hardness N/A
Materials Rosewood Handles

I had a chance to use a couple of these, (I always like trying a new or different tool) and gave them back as fast as I could. Don't know if the guy was trying to sell them to me, but he did not ask and I did not offer. Crown chisels are junk! The only chisels that were worse was the Woodriver brand. The Woodriver brand would not even cut basswood without turning the edge! The Crown chisel would at least take a couple of shavings before they dulled.I would guess if you wanted to learn the art of heat treating steel these would be good for practice. I would not even use these chisels as glue scrapers.Thank goodness for Lie Nielsen, Ashley Iles, and Matsumua chisels!

On the plus side, these are cheap enough to use as glue chisels - and you won't mind if someone abuses them.On the down side, they need considerable work setting up, as they have heavily rounded edges, and though the softness of the steel makes this none too arduous, it does mean that in use they turn quickly into a blunt instrument.I wouldn't sell mine, as I'd feel guilty taking the money. If you need something this size, it may be better to purchase a single, better quality tool rather than this set.


These are reasonably good chisels, but not don't mistake them for anything near the best. They are a handy size for small trimming jobs and for working in restricted space. The rosewood handles are well-made, smooth, and have a good feel in the hand. The heft and balance are decent, as is the general level of finish on the blade. They hone up easily -- perhaps a little too easily -- to a good, sharp edge. They seem to hold that edge for a reasonable period of time while working in softer woods, such as pine and bass wood. However, if you intend to use these extensively in hard woods, plan to devote a substantial amount of time to keeping them honed, as they do not hold an edge well when trimming or shaving in harder woods such as red oak, cherry, or walnut. Examining the edge after using them in red oak, I noticed that the edge had rolled somewhat, indicating to me that the hardening/tempering was very much on the softer end of the scale. I don't know what the Rc rating for these chisels is -- I'm guessing at somewhere around Rc 55 to Rc 57, based on how easily the edge rolled in red oak -- but it is lower than needed for working hard wood. Were I to recommend an improvement to the manufacturer, it would be to harden the blades to somewhere around Rc 60 or Rc 62; that would significantly improve the performance of these chisels, and -- at the current price -- make them a superb deal.

Click on a thumbnail to see a full sized image

Become a Better Woodworker

Save up to 56% on Fine Woodworking