As you can see the chisels shown at the beginning of this article are well worn, these are my everyday chisels that I carry around from job to job and form a small part of my overall mobile tool kit.
The second from the right was deliberately bent as I needed to get into an awkward corner whilst fitting spindles and handrail. There are generally three types of chisel available from most tool outlets that I use.
The Bevelled edge chisel which is bevelled along both edges, this is used for general light joinery the advantage of having the bevels is that it can be used to undercut housings in mortices and dovetail work.
The Firmer which is becoming increasingly harder to find has a stout blade without the bevels on each side and can be struck smartly with a mallet, I use this for more demanding carpentry.
The Paring chisel which is becoming even harder to find has a longer blade usually around 7-9” depending on the width of the blade but older ones were up to 12” in length these are used to trim long grooves or as the name indicates to par wood. This is the chisel I use most of all and because of its extra length you have more control over it.
Other types include:
The Mortice chisel which as the name suggests is generally used for cutting mortices.
Firmer Gouge used to cut hollow or curved shoulders.
Swan Neck used to cut deep blind recesses.
All Steel chisels, these are made from one piece of steel with no wooden handle and be struck hard with a hammer so are ideal for heavy site carpentry.
I am always on the lookout for old chisels with reasonable stock, old would be pre 1970. The steel used then to manufacture them is superior to the steel used nowadays, so they keep their edge longer. If you have any old chisel lying around in an old tool box in the garage – then I’m your man, give me a ring or use the contact page and I will be interested in buying them.
When it comes to sharpening, I try to maintain a bevel of 25 degrees, many carpenters then go on to hone the cutting edge to 30 degrees, but I was taught to stop at 25. There are plenty of videos on youtube and other platforms that show you how to grind and sharpen chisels and I am sure the world really doesn’t need another one, so look there for advice on sharpening. My only advice would be to use a fine good quality oil for the final honing on a good quality, preferably natural oil stone.