How to Make a Skew Chisel
Garrett Hack demonstrates how to make a bevel-edge skew chisel.
Synopsis: You can buy bevel-edge skew chisels, but it’s pretty easy and very inexpensive to simply make your own. Garrett Hack demonstrates how to make a skew chisel from a flea-market find and gives examples of places where it will come in handy.
About 30 years ago at a tool sale, I bought a fine Marples bevel-edged chisel with about a third of the blade snapped off. I took it home and ground a new edge at an 18° skew. I still have that chisel, and I can’t imagine cutting dovetails by hand without it.
You can buy bevel-edge skew chisels—they’re often sold in pairs for between $60 and $130—but it’s far less expensive to make your own. All it takes is a fleamarket chisel (3/8 in. or 1/2 in. works well) or an extra chisel you already own. And there’s no reason to make a pair. A single skew works great. I use mine bevel down and bevel up to get into left and right corners.
Making a skew chisel involves blunting the tip at the skew angle, grinding the bevel, and then honing. It’s not difficult at all.
Nothing better for reaching into tight spots
The angled tip is ideal for precise cuts deep into tight corners (the skew angle actually forces it into the corner), and for long paring cuts.
Turn an old chisel into a specialized tool
Hack sharpens his skew chisel to an angle of 18°. It’s no more difficult than grinding a new edge on a badly nicked chisel.
From Fine Woodworking #217
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