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Chisels

Apr 14 2013

This past week we received a few woodworking chisels in the shop. When I got looking at them, I felt that this would be a good topic for the Blog.

A chisel is a fine cutting instrument that needs to have a razor sharp edge. It is useful for counter sinking hinges on doors, as well as cleaning out the corners of several types of wood working joints. When the cutting edge becomes dull or nicked, the finished cut will need extra steps to ensure a proper fit. As these cuts are difficult and in many cases impossible to make with a saw or router, the chisel has always been a handy tool to have in the woodworkers collection.

Below are a couple of pictures of what we received and what we they looked like when we were done. The pictures show some discoloration, but that is due to the lighting over my workbench and the angle of the flash. They came to us with a highly polished finish, and will be returned with the same appearance.

 

 

Notice the cutting edges. They are very jagged and not very sharp looking. In this condition, it would be hard to push this edge through the wood, without creating a splintered effect. More force than necessary would be needed to not only start the cut, but to maintain it. Another result of using an edge like this would be instead of biting into the wood, the edge would tend to slip out. It would go from a lot of resistance to no resistance. Anything that is in it's path at this time would be damaged. This includes the person using it.

 

In this picture you see that there is no longer a jagged edge. We first used a grinder to square off the cutting edge. Then recreated the bevel angle to bring the cutting edge to a razor sharp point, that travels the length of the cutting edge. This process will leave a small wire burr along the cutting edge of the chisel. Once we have that wire, we hone the bevel and edge to remove or break the wire off, leaving a clean razor sharp edge. Notice the dark line along the cutting surface. This is actually a little grinding dust scrapped off my thumb when I checked to make sure the wire burr was completely removed. Never run your thumb or finger along the length of any object that is suppose to be sharp, and never push down. When checking for sharpness use the lightest touch possible and drag your thumb across the cutting edge. Doing this you will be able to feel what you may not be able to see, if it feels rough or tends to grab then it is time to recondition the edge.

As with any object that is sharp, there are several safety rules and precautions to follow to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Never pull the sharp edge of any cutting utensil toward you. Sharp or dull, if it slips out of what you are cutting there will be damage to whatever is in its way. Also when storing tools of this nature, use a piece of Styrofoam or something else to protect the cutting edge. This will not only help in keeping it from getting nicked in storage, but will also prevent you from accidentally touching the sharp edge.

The edge will get dull during use, and when it does, if you don't know the proper way of doing it yourself, find someone who knows how to sharpen tools and get it done. Keeping your woodworking tools in good sharp shape will not only make them more enjoyable to use, but will help you create those family heirlooms. 

 Happy woodworking, and remember "SHARP IS SAFE"

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