About bevel edged chisels

Written by chris baylor
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About bevel edged chisels
Bevel-edged chisels. (Ciseau 3 image by rolero54 from Fotolia.com)

The bevel-edged chisel is the most commonly used chisel in woodworking. A bevel-edged chisel is bevelled on one side, with square corners. This shape helps the bevel-edged chisel hold a fine edge for longer than most other chisels, and the square shape allows it to fit into corners easily. These chisels can be used for paring, carving, cutting dovetails and many more woodworking tasks.

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Shape

The bevel-edged chisel's steel is perfectly flat on one side, with a bevelled edge on the opposite side. The bevel is typically 20 to 25 degrees. The tip is the only portion of the bevel that is honed to a cutting edge.

Handles

The handle of a bevel-edged chisel can be made of wood, plastic or other polymers. The end of the chisel handle is typically made of a hardened steel to allow a hammer or mallet to strike the chisel. Wood or plastic handles reduce shock to the hand when the chisel is struck.

Sizes

Bevel-edged chisels typically come in standard sizes, beginning with 6 mm (1/4 inch), then in 3 mm (1/8 inch) increments up to 2.5 cm (1 inch), and then in 6 mm (1/4 inch) increments typically not wider than 5 cm (2 inches).

Paring with the grain

When paring (or cutting) with the grain using a bevel-edged chisel, place the bevelled tip flat on the work surface. Keep hands behind the sharpened tip, steadying the blade as you work forward. Raise the handle to take a deeper cut into the wood. You can merely use the force of your hands to make shallow cuts. Make deeper cuts by tapping the handle end of the chisel with a mallet, giving it more force.

Cutting against the grain

Using a chisel to cut against the grain can cause wood to splinter easily, since the wood grain is being torn instead of cut. One strategy to reduce this tearing is to make shallow cuts with a saw against the grain and then carve out the waste using a bevel-edged chisel.

Sharpening

To sharpen a bevel-edged chisel, use a wet sharpening station or a bench grinder. Use a sharpening guide positioned at the angle of the chisel's bevel to keep the grinding consistent across the bevel. On a bench grinder, grind in short bursts to avoid overheating the steel, which can cause the chisel to lose its tempering and, eventually, its ability to hold an edge over time.

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