The simplest tool we have in our shop has been around from the beginning of the craft and still remains as relevant as it always has, even with the advancement of technology in tools. This simple piece of steel and wood handle is the chisel.
Chisels are not hard to learn but are difficult to master. Using a chisel on different types of wood, learning which direction to use a chisel according to the grain of the wood, how to keep the edge sharp…these are all factors which, when mastered, will enable you to perfect the functions of the chisel.
Although chisels have been around for centuries, many advances have been made in their development and functions. From the materials used for the blade, to the handle shape, and even the specialty shapes and sizes of the blades, today’s chisels would absolutely blow the mind of a 16th century wood worker. Yet, despite all of its advancements, he would still be able to recognize the tool.
We all know that each tool has its own specific use. Just like a flat head screwdriver was developed for the flat head screw, each chisel also has its own function. Each development was created in order to solve a problem or make a task easier and more exact. For instance, we can see this with the development of corner chisels. A corner chisel easily cuts 90 degree corners for fitting hinges. By simply lining the straight edges of the cut and striking the edge with a hammer, one can achieve a perfect 90 degree corner with a clean, crisp and straight edge; it turns your rounded corner into a neat square corner.
This development is important for two types of woodworkers. First, the novice with chisels who is not yet accomplished enough to achieve a perfect 90 degree clean corner with bench chisels. Second, the accomplished woodworker who can cut these corners perfectly with bench chisels but decides not to in order to speed up his/her work without compromising results.
When one is fitting hinges, a 90 degree perfect corner is often needed to place a factory made hinge without error. This is typically a timely process of marking out and cutting. Using a corner chisel is a simpler way to perfect this without error.
If you look at the image below, you can see that one only needs to line up the corner chisel, lay the cutter in the appropriate position and tap it lightly with a mallet. This task can take a long time when one is required to hang multiple doors and cut numerous fitted hinges. Therefore, if you are looking for consistent and perfect results in a fraction of the time, take advantage of this simple and affordable tool.
Although chisels are one of the most basic tools, which have been in our shops for centuries, and they have seen many advances in use and technology, they still maintain their simplicity. As with any tool, we should not only look for quality but for something that allows us to work faster, better, smarter and more efficiently.