2020 April 6      Tools   Woodworking


If you make stuff, you might not use a wood chisel every day... but when you need one, there's not really a good substitute for it,

So maybe you've got this old wood chisel that either needs re-worked or replaced.  What's on the market now?  And is there any multi-task variant of the basic design?

This is not a comprehensive buyer's guide;  I just thought I'd set down some ideas here, because I'll probably forget what I concluded about all this (and need to refer to it later).  And I figured you might benefit from this, too.

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In This Article

Rework a Vintage Wood Chisel?

Just One Wood Chisel

The Wood Chisel Knife

Bahco & Hultafors.

The Mora


Rework a Vintage Wood Chisel?

In the picture below, you may notice that this old Stanley wood chisel needs some re-work. 

The angle grinder doesn't seem to have ruined the heat-treat, but the bevel needs work.  And there are grinding marks in the steel.

Also, the back of it (not shown) is quite pitted.  It actually took at least an hour of sandpaper on a flat piece of steel, just to get it into usable condition.  Problem is, the pits are so deep and so numerous that it would require too much metal removal to fix it.

It's feasible to salvage an old chisel, sometimes.  But it's work.

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Just One Wood Chisel

Not every kit has room for a whole set of wood chisels.  And you probably won't want to carry three or five of them on a tool belt.

Most woodworkers seem to agree that if you're going to buy just one size, get the 3/4".  It's narrow enough for mortising a door edge.  And it's wide enough that if you need to pare down the end of a 2x4 or something, it'll work for that, too.  But if you make stuff out two-by lumber, a 1 1/2" chisel (38mm) is a good size.  (A standard milled two-by-four, two-by-six, etc., is 1 1/2" thick.)

During notch cuts with a jigsaw or reciprocating saw, the blade deflects quite a bit.  This is difficult to avoid.  A 1 1/2" wood chisel is ideal for squaring up these notches. 

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The Wood Chisel Knife

Some multi-tasking tools are a bit kludge-y;  they do several tasks rather poorly, but no task very well. 

A "wood chisel knife", though, seems like a good idea. 

Just realize there are two basic designs for these.  One of them is good for woodworking;  the other I'm not so sure about.

A regular wood chisel has a flat back.  The blade has a one-sided bevel (asymmetric).  That's good. 

But some chisel knives are made with a two-sided bevel.  There's no "flat" side to it.

That partially defeats the purpose of making a "wood chisel knife". 

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Bahco, Hultafors, Etc

Most of what's on the market will have the two-sided bevel.  That includes the Bahco and the Hultafors.  These might be great tools, but they're "not quite" the wood chisel knife I'm looking for.

Now, you might be able to use one of these as a bevel-down wood chisel, and in a future article I might test that.  But they don't have the flat side and single bevel.  So they might not be as good for low-angle end-grain work. 

Here is another brand that also has a two-sided bevel.  Again, this could be an extremely handy tool for a general contractor or even a carpenter.  But it's not really a "wood chisel knife".

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The Mora

There are not many with the proper wood-chisel grind (one flat side, one beveled side). 

Right now, actually, there are only two I know of for sure, and only one of them is really a "chisel knife".

There's the DeWalt set, which are wood chisels with an edge on one side only.  These are not quite "chisel knives", but they're similar. 

Then there's this tool, made by Morakniv.  They market this as "single-side honed".  The description says it's for carpentry.  Right now it may be the only actual wood chisel knife that has a flat side. 

When you're up on a ladder and you need to fix a crooked notch in a two-by-four or something, a wood chisel knife would be the kind of tool you're more apt to have on your belt already (because it's so useful), instead of having to climb down and go get a wood chisel. 

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There's no substitute for a big ol' construction-grade wood chisel that you can hammer on all day.  (Also try this link for a 38mm chisel made by Bahco.)  One of these should be in your tool kit, if you work much with wood.

There seem to be two or three "chisel knives" that may have that single bevel design, with one flat side like a real wood chisel.  But if you want to be sure, get one of these.


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