Wood chisels are used for cutting and paring timber. They consist of a steel blade with an extremely sharp cutting edge and a handle. Chisel handles used to be made of wood, but today they are more commonly made from shatterproof and impact-resistant materials, such as cellulose acetate. This is necessary, as the handle has to withstand being hit countless times during the chisel's lifetime. If the handle of a chisel cracks or splits it should be thrown away immediately.
There is a wide range of chisels available but for most DIY projects the four listed below in a selection of blade widths should be sufficient.
Used generally for cutting deep mortise joints, the mortise chisel has a thick blade for greater strength and will look square rather than rectangular when viewed in profile.
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For a chisel to continue working effectively the blade must be kept sharp. This is carried out using a sharpening stone, the most common being made of silicone carbide. Different grades of sharpening stone may be needed, with a coarse stone required for removing larger pieces of metal when the blade is chipped and a smoother stone for achieving the final cutting edge.
Chisels are often supplied with plastic caps or covers to protect the cutting edge, so always fit them when you are storing your chisels.
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