Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A New Chisel, A New Handle

The use of the chisel and that concomitant tool of chisels, the mallet is quite a simple elementary exercise in principle, requiring little explanation and learned quickly through a minimum of experience.

Alex W. Bealer, Old Ways of Working Wood, 1980

I haven't bought a brand spanking new chisel for proper wood working since, um, let me think here, 1993?

That was a set of Stanley, made in England, blue handle chisels that hold a scary sharp edge. The new Marples chisels have nothing on those chisels.

My other chisels are vintage James Swan, Keen Cutter, Stiletto, etc., that I found in flea markets or bought from tool dealers through the Internet.

I wanted a nice chisel to help clean out the binding rabbets on guitars, so I splurged and bought a 10mm chisel from Luthiers Mercantile International. Click here to see their chisels. I remember when LMI offered a 1mm wide chisel!



The handle that came with it is tintul and it's not as well shaped as the LMI handles were 20 years ago. The handle is clumsy in my hand, that long barrel where the chisel shank resides is just that, a barrel with no taper and not very comfortable.

I clamped the blade in a vise, heated up the handle with a hot air gun and knocked it off. I remember my dad telling me that all the old carpenters that he knew first thing would remove the factory handle on a new chisel and make their own.




That is exactly what I did. I took a pick handle, cut off a length, chucked in the mini lathe and went at it.

I do miss using a spring pole lathe, it's quieter, gives my leg a work out and allows me to flip the work piece end for end to finesse the turning. A power lathe doesn't give you all that.




I'm a little out of practice, and to use a worn out wood working pun, I need to "tame the skew". (How many of you have really seen Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew?)

The hickory turned well and I used my standard handle pattern.




After a little work with a chisel and round rasp the tang fit well in the new handle. I used cyanoacrylate glue to hold the handle to the chisel tang.

By the way, if anyone wants the tintul handle that came with this chisel, I will send it to you for the cost of shipping, which is $5.80. LMI offers that tool handle for $5.50 plus shipping.

If you are interested, please email me at highcountrylutherie@gmail.com with your full name, email address, mailing address stating that you really want this handle. That way I know that you are serious about sending the money for the shipping costs. Please don't leave a comment in the comment box, I check my email more often than I do this blog!






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