Chisels have been used for centuries as essential tools for shaping, dressing, or working solid materials such as wood, metal, or stone.
When looking for the best wood chisels, you need to choose the type that suits your needs to get the most of your tools.
Be it for making furniture, crafting, or other woodworking needs, a wood chisel is an essential tool one must have in their toolbox.
Read on to find out what the different types of wood chisels are, how to choose the best one for your needs, as well as what our top picks are.
The Main Wood Chisel Types
Wood chisels come in three main types – bench, mortise, and paring chisels.
These different chisels are used for and which one will be the most appropriate type for your specific needs and projects.
These are the most common type of woodworking chisels. They are versatile and are used so often for different woodworking tasks that they will likely sit on your working space, which is why they are called bench chisels.
Bench chisels are used for paring and chopping wood.
They are either bevel-edged, registered, or firmer.
You can use bench chisels for several tasks, including shaving lumber, cutting wood joints out in cabinets, and others.
Beveled bench chisels are easier to use for various joints as they accommodate the sidewalls more easily.
Straight-edged bench chisels are heavier and thicker and are used for carving larger parts of the wood.
Bench chisels are available in different sizes – from 1/16 to 3 inches, with the most commonly used sizes being ¼ to 1 inch.
They are used with wooden mallets rather than metal hammers.
The mortise chisels are designed for the heavy chopping needed for mortise joints.
They come in different variants, such as Sash, Pig Sticker, Registered, and Mortise chisels.
Unlike most bench chisels, these chisels can withstand the heavy pounding required for mortising.
Mortise chisels are heavier, thicker and larger, thus capable of carving through thicker and tougher hardwood.
They come in sizes from 1/8 to ½ inches, with the most commonly used size being ¼ inch.
Paring chisels have thinner and longer blades that can fit in tight spaces and are more suitable for creating more delicate and smaller joints.
Some of the common uses for paring chisels include careful paring or slicing of the wood.
They are meant for use for intricate cuts, so they are used via hand force only rather than with a mallet or hammer.
The Features to Consider When Shopping for the Best Wood Chisels
Apart from choosing the right type of chisel for the task you are planning on performing, it is also essential to consider the other main features of the chisel before buying the most suitable one for you.
You must consider what kinds of tasks you will be using the chisel for. This can save you a lot of money and frustration and prevent you from buying the wrong kind of tool.
The bench chisels are the most versatile type. They are suitable for those who are not exactly sure which chisel types you will need for a job.
Then again, if you will be doing a lot of tenon and mortise joint jobs on hardwood, you will probably need mortise chisels.
For smaller and more intricate woodworking jobs, you should pick a paring chisel.
Socket or Tang Type Handle
Wood chisels come in either tang or socket types when it comes to how the base of the blade is secured to the tool’s handle.
Socket chisels have a shank with a socket that is fitted in a protrusion of the handle.
Tang chisels have pointed tangs or shanks which are fastened to the handle.
The socket chisels are more durable and are usually more expensive than the less resilient tang ones, which cannot handle such a heavy beating with a wood mallet.
The handle of the wood chisel is crucial for the longevity of the tools and the safety and ease of use.
Chisels with wood handles are sturdy, balanced, and beautiful, but they are more expensive than others and may not be as durable as other types of materials.
Plastic chisel handles can be made of soft or hard plastic. The latter are inexpensive and resilient to impact. The soft grip plastic ones are less durable but are more comfortable to grip and use.
Plastic handles are more affordable and durable, which makes them more suitable for newbie woodworkers.
The blades of the wood chisels are usually made of carbon “tool steel” or vanadium steel.
Tool steel blades are durable, and the harder the steel, the longer the blade will hold its edge.
Vanadium steel blades are tougher than regular tool steel ones. These hold an edge for longer and are sharper than the ordinary steel ones.
Western or Japanese Chisels
Japanese chisels have blades that are made of high carbon steel with tungsten and are more rigid than the western-style ones.
The western chisel blades are made of either ordinary tool steel or vanadium.
Japanese chisels tend to last more and keep an edge sharp for longer than western ones.
On the other hand, the western ones are easier to sharpen.
Another main difference between the two styles is in the shapes of the blades and the handles of the chisels.
The Japanese ones have shorter blades and cylindrical handles than the more ergonomic grips and the longer blades of the western chisels.
Choose the size of the chisel depending on the tasks you will be using it for.
For smaller and more intricate detailing, choose smaller-sized chisels which start from 1/16 inch. For larger woodworking projects, you should opt for a larger chisel from 1 ½ to 3 inches.
This sizing refers to the width of the blade. But keep in mind that the length of the chisel blade is essential as well.
Chisels with longer blades are easier to use and provide better control.
Shorter ones are suitable for use in tighter spaces.
For the best results, it is advisable to get chisels of different sizes and lengths.
When shopping for a wood chisel, consider the accessories they are offered with which you will need to maintain and store.
You will need a sharpening tool, a bench grinder, and sandpaper for the sharpening.
It is also advisable to consider storage accessories, including storage cases, boxes or pouches, magnetic tool racks, and other storage racks.
You will also need a suitable wood mallet for the bench and mortise-type chisels.
Other Tips for Wood Chisel Buying and Use
After learning about the most important features to look for when choosing the best wood chisel, here are some additional tips for making the right decision and for using your new woodworking tool:
1. Choose a suitable tool for your skillset and experience – if you are new to woodworking, it makes sense to buy a less expensive set of chisels with plastic handles. The higher-end wood sets are more suitable for experienced woodworkers.
2. Remember to use the wood chisels as they were intended to extend their longevity and for better results. Use mortise chisels for making deep mortises, bench chisels for common shaving and joining, and paring chisels for fine detailing.
3. Newbies may want to start with cheaper western-style chisels and turn to Japanese once they gain confidence and sufficient experience.
4. The best choice for absolute beginners is an all-purpose bevel-edged set of bench chisels sized ¼, 1/2, ¾, and 1 inch.
5. Consider buying a more specialized chisel for specific jobs and tasks if you find that the bench chisels are not suitable for that job.
6. Chisels with plastic handles are more suitable for beginners.
7. Choose the blade material depending on how hard the wood is and how often you are willing to stop work to sharpen the edge.
The Best Wood Chisels
Here are our top selections for the best woodworking chisels on the market this year. We have chosen chisels of all types, sizes and suitable for all budgets. Most importantly, our selections offer the best value for the money asked.
The 10 piece set includes six chisels with strong vanadium blades and narrow side bevels. The chisels are sized ¼, ½, ¾, 1, 1 ¼, and 1 ½ inch which are suitable for the most common woodworking jobs. Also included are a sharpening stone and a honing guide which you can use to sharpen the edges quickly and efficiently and to get back to work.
The ergonomic handles are made of hard plastic with metal caps that will resist a lot of hits with a mallet.
There are also two carpenter pencils, and all tools are conveniently placed in a carry and storage case.
Overall this complete set of chisels and sharpening tools are perfect for newbies who want to get started right away with their woodworking projects.
The set is inexpensive, well-built and great for those of you looking to learn woodworking.
There are six chisels in the set sized ¼, ½, ¾, 1 ¼, and 1 ½ inch.
The chisels have heat-treated chrome vanadium narrow side beveled steel blades which will withstand a lot of impact and use.
They have comfortable plastic rubberized handles, which allow for better control, and can take a lot of hits with a wooden mallet.
The set is an excellent choice for beginners and experienced woodworkers alike, especially those who don’t want to break the bank for a high-end set.
Best Value for the Money
The four chisels are sized ¼, ½, ¾, and 1 inches and have full-length blade guards for safe storage, portability, and handling.
The vanadium steel blades of the chisels are durable and with sharp edges. They are treated with a protective lacquer coating.
The handles are made from hardened and durable plastic, which will last through the many impacts of the mallet.
They don’t come with a carry case, but thanks to the guards, you can store them in your toolbox, tool belt, or another storage space without worrying about accidents.
It includes six chisels sized 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm.
Their blades have bevels that are ground at a 25-degree angle. They are made of tempered fine-grained chrome-manganese steel, which has been hardened to Rc59.
The mortise chisels are fitted with beautiful stained Beachwood handles with steel ferrules to protect them from impact.
The blades have a strong heavy steel tang.
While these beautiful mortise chisels do cost quite a lot more than some of the others on the market, they are of very high quality, well balanced, and will be the perfect gift or addition to the toolset of an intermediate or advanced woodworker.
It is a 1/8 inch chisel with a slim and long blade made of high carbon, which has been solid forged and hardened for excellent strength and edge retention.
The handle is made of ergonomically contoured polypropylene, which allows for a comfortable and secure grip for better control when working on intricate details.
The blade is made of hardened tool steel, which comes with a protective shield cap.
The edge will stay sharp for long, and the handle is comfortable, made of hardened plastic, and has a protective cap that will withstand a lot of blows with a mallet.
This ½ inch bench chisel is one of the top choices if you want an inexpensive and yet versatile and high-quality instrument for your DIY woodworking projects and needs.
Here are some of the common questions we have been receiving regarding the purchase and use of wood chisels:
Q. How do you make a door hinge with a chisel?
A: First, mark where the hinge must be and use a sharp 1 ¼ inch bench chisel or mortise chisel to make a few cuts. Make sure they have a depth that is the same as that of the door hinge. Continue with the slicing horizontally to take out the area which you have notched.
Q: How do you sharpen the wood chisel?
A: Use a sharpening stone, a bench grinder, or sandpaper for sharpening the edge of your wood chisel.
Q: What size wood chisel should I buy?
A: The best size depends on what you will be using the tool for. The most common sizes are ¼, ½, ¾, and 1 inches for bench chisels. These are the woodworking tools that are suitable for just about any woodworking task.
Q: What is the proper way to store the wood chisels?
A: If they come with a storage box, keep them there. If not, store your instruments in a case, a pouch, a storage rack, or use a magnetic tool holder.
Last update on 2022-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API