How do wood chisels work?
|There are many types of wood chisel and although they may be used for a variety of applications, they do have common attributes. The defining feature that all chisels have in common is that they have at least one sharp cutting edge which is used to remove unwanted wood from a workpiece.|
|A wood chisel works by having its cutting edge forced into a piece of timber. This wedge-like action severs the fibres of the wood and removes a chip from the solid body.|
|Sharpness is essential with wood chisels. The less force you need to apply to the chisel, the less damage you will do to the surrounding timber.|
|A sharp chisel is also safer than a blunt one. This may seem contradictory, but sharp chisels require less force to be used and so give the user greater control.|
|A chisel may be simply hand-manipulated or struck with a mallet.|
Although a tool in its own right, a carpenter’s mallet is an essential accessory to working with wood chisels. A carpenter’s mallet is traditionally made from hardwood (commonly beech) and is used to tap or strike the end of a wood chisel’s handle to create a cut.
|As the chisel’s cutting edge is forced into the wood, it cuts into and underneath the fibres, pushing them apart. Depending on the angle of your chisel, this action will either cut into or remove an excess sliver of wood.|
|Wood chisels vary in use and application, from paring away small slivers and shavings of wood, to chopping out larger areas of a workpiece (known as “roughing out”) prior to more intricate detailing.|
|As a general rule with wood chisels, the user tends to start off with a larger chisel to remove the bulk of the work then progresses to a smaller chisel to finish the finer details.|
|However, mortise chisels work in a slightly different way: the cutting edge is forced into a piece of timber via mallet blows. This action chops the unwanted wood into small pieces. The user then levers out the excess material. The mortise is the only chisel with a thick, sturdy blade that is used to lever out material.|