The Essential Chisel Set
Furniture maker Garrett Hack discusses the eight chisels he can't live without.
Thetford Center, Vermont
Author, teacher, and furniture maker Garrett Hack answers 10 questions from readers about choosing, sharpening, and using chisels.
|If you were forced to limit yourself to eight chisels to do all of your woodworking from now on, what would be in the set?
|In your wonderful book Classic Hand Tools, you say that of the vintage chisels you’ve used, you favor Swan. What exactly do you think sets the Swans apart?
|What is your preferences in mortise chisels. R.A. Salaman suggests in Dictionary of Woodworking Tools that a sash mortise chisel is used in cabinet making, while the oval-handled, wide-bladed chisels are used in carpentry and heavy joinery.
|I am very new to woodworking. Please don’t cringe but I use a set of three Buck Bros. bench chisels from Home Depot. I flattened their backs and can get them reasonably sharp and serviceable. At what point do you recommend investing in a set of first-rate chisels?
|I’m making 26 mortises in dry ash that measure 1/2-in. wide by 2-in. by 1-in. long . Will I shorten the life of my bench chisels by doing so, or should I spring for a good 1/2-in. mortising chisel?
|I find many articles focus on chisel processes that work well with traditional European bench chisels. I have preferred Japanese chisels for years and would like to know if you use them in your work.
|Could you explain and demonstrate what you do to prepare an old chisel after you acquire it?
|I sharpen my chisels using water stones but over time the chisel edge is no longer square to the sides. How do I re-gain the square chisel reference? I don’t have a grinding wheel and rely solely on my water stones.
|I’ve often read that the last step in honing is to make a series of alternating strokes on each side of the bevel to remove the wire edge. Some recent videos I’ve seen leave that step out. What method do you prefer?
|Can you demonstrate the basic techniques you use for chopping and paring with a chisel?