Chisels can be used on many different materials, but the most common types---the mortise chisel, the bevel chisel and the paring chisel, according to the Technology Student website---are used for woodworking. Generally the handles of the chisels are made from various materials such as beech, ash, plastic or boxwood. Often a mallet is used to tap on the chisel handle, allowing for small amounts of wood to be broken away by the chisel.
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A mortise chisel is used to create a mortise or receptacle in a mortise and tenon wood joint. A mortise chisel has a long, stout blade that is strong enough to withstand the levering action used to clear out waste in creating the receptacle for the tenon. Mortise chisels are heavy, thicker than they are wide, with sturdy oak handles. Sash mortise chisels are lighter, easier to handle and designed for chopping shallow mortises. The sash mortise chisel is also available in a heavier version that features a square chisel blade and round handles.
Bevelled-edge bench chisels have bevelled sides and a short blade, according to the website Tools for Working Wood. Beveled bench chisels are designed for maximum access to dovetails. Some models are hooped, which adds strength for malleting; however, this is not standard. The bevelled-edge bench chisel is also available in a heavy-duty model used primarily in boat building and any other project which joinery is complicated.
Paring chisels are almost flexible, with long, thin, lightweight blades, according to the website Tools for Working Wood. The length allows for maximum control and a mallet is never used with a paring chisel. One hand guides the chisel while the other pushes it forward. Paring chisels are used for smoothing out the sides of the mortise after using a mortise chisel and for the fitting of joints.
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