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Thread: Socket Chisels You Actually Use

  1. #1
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    Jul 2014
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    Socket Chisels You Actually Use

    Hi All,

    Currently working on some socket chisels, I have a Heinz 57 set, and got to wondering, what size socket chisels, for both paring and dovetailing, etc., do folks use most.

    My brother, who does a lot of car body and mechanic work, had mentioned to me last night, that of all of his socket wrenches, he actually use only about 6 or 7 or so, counting both metric and English sizes, the vast majority of the time. (The ones used most, by far were from about 1/2" up to about 5/8" or so and the metrics in that rough size range, almost more than the rest of the sizes put together.) That made me think about chisels.

    Thus, for paring and dovetailing, and all other Neander tasks, what sizes of the different types of Neander type chisels do you use the vast majority of the time?

    For over 20 years I only had two carpenter chisels that I used, both Stanley Homeowner chisels in size 1/2" and 1&1/4". However, that's all I had, and the woodworking I did was 95+% carpentry, not fine woodworking anyway. I got by with those two, and seemed to get along OK with only two, but it would have been nice to have a 1/4" chisel sometimes. I didn't make a lot of money back in those days, and other tools were a higher priority.

    For what it's worth, I still use a 1/2" and the 1" or 1.25" most for carpentry. (Even though I now have quite a few different sizes and types of chisel.)

    Thanks and regards,

    Stew

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    North Alabama
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    Over the years I'd say it's been 1/4", 3/8", and 3/4". As my techniques change and my emphasis on Neander tools grows, though, I'm reaching for the wider ones more often. Since I began my self-education in dovetailing, I'd reach for a 1/8" more often if I had one.
    Chuck Taylor

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Longview WA
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    It depends on the projects or the joinery being used.

    For average size dovetails my 1/4, 3/8 & 1/2 inch chisels are used most.

    For mortise and tenon joints my 3/4, 1, 1-1/4 & 1-1/2 inch chisels are used to trim tenons.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
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    3,246
    It all depends on the project. I have a detail chisel as small as 1/16" and a not so detail chisel at 2" and many in between.

    Toothpick_Box_001.jpg Chisel_Box_001.jpg Knife_Box_001.jpg Toolbox_001.jpg

    Assuming that these stay in order, these are a toothpick box, chisel box, knife cabinet, and a tool cabinet. I often choose the chisel based on the spacing. Sometimes I will help to strike the line straight with something wider than the spacing (enhancing the knife line). Sometimes I will purposely use something narrower than the spacing because the wood is more difficult, but the wider the chisel the straighter (more continuous) the line; kind of. For clean-up I like something smaller to get into those corners. Note that I do NOT own a skew chisel. Maybe someday!

    For the toothpick box, nothing larger than 1/4", which is used rather often. I made good use of the 1/8" and I did some clean-up with the 1/16" but I could have gotten by with the 1/8". For all the rest, the smallest I used was 1/4". I use larger than 3/4" less often for this type of work.

    If you build something like an oil stone box I expect to use larger chisels to clean out waste, but larger chisels such as my 2" chisel are used much less often than the others. My most used chisels I have as the Veritas PM-V11 Bench chisels. I also own miscellaneous chisels such as Stanley sweetheart (old / new) from 1/8" to 1". I then have some junk chisels in some of those sizes.

    I purchased a decent 1 1/2" chisel here some years back and then I decided to fill in some gaps with the cheaper Narex chisels in sizes I did not have up to 2"; I don't generally leave the shop with my Veritas Bench Chisels. With the addition of the Narex chisels I will remove some of my cheap Stanley chisels out of rotation. These are also the chisels that I use as loaners or when I know that I am about to be brutal on a chisel.

    If I were on a "budget" and did not want a bunch, I would not bother with sizes such as 3/16" or 5/16" (unless I had a specific need such as a mortise) and just stick with 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", maybe 5/8", 3/4", and 1". I find it useful to sometimes have larger chisels, which is why I have 1 1/4", 1 1/2", and 2" as well. Most people probably do not use 1" and larger very often.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    If I didn't have all the sizes covered, the one I needed would be the one I didn't have.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
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    I find that I use 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 1 inch bench chisels the most. Less often, I reach for 5/16 or 3/4.

    For paring chisels, 1/4, 1/2, 1, and 1 1/2 inches get the most use.

    My most commonly used mortise chisels are 1/4 and 5/16.

    As Jim and Andrew pointed out, it's all about the scale of the work; small chisels for small cuts and large chisels for larger cuts. I like to have the chisel width reasonably matched to the size of the cut when I can.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    Having recently doubled my chisel storage real estate I got to pick which ones I wanted most convenient. Left to right in pic, half inch mortise, beater 3/4 , my very best 1/4 which isn't very good but it is sharp, then a vintage 3/4 with a rounded nose I prefer for paring small things, then LN half inch and at the far right LN one inch.

    I think of the vintage rounded 3/4 as a model makers framing slick. I can pare with a square edge chisel, but I usually hold the blade down with the thumb of my off hand and then rotate the edge through the offender with my strong hand. To me it feels more natural with a round nose chisel, a regular chisel with some crown on it. YMMV We are about far enough into wet season for me to reseat my LN handles for another nine months, but I make a point to set them all free at the end of dry season. I find most of them easier to sharpen if I can get the wood out of the socket. Again, YMMV.

    I do have a 24" wide drawer a bit further away from my workbench (with new vacancies for six more chisels), and the really fussy stuff I keep boxed in a different drawer. 1/2 corner chisel and 1/10 mortise chisel stay in their factory packing and taped shut. bomb proof.

    If I was making little tiny pins for my dovetails I would look at 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8 and probably a pair of fishtails. For now, if I can't trim a DT joint with a 1/2, I don't layout or cut it that way. if I was making smaller things 1/4 and 3/8 mortise chisels would make sense. Now that I have room I probably will pick up a 5/16 mortise chisel, there is one at a rust hunt I have put back on the shelf numerous times.

    I do really like the magnetic strip holding the currently favored six as pictured. If I start a project and want six different favorites I can just move them around.

    If I was starting over with an insurance check I would get an inexpensive set from a box store 0.25 to 1.25, good bench chisels 1/4, 1/2 and 1 inch, then mortise chisel and a paring chisel scaled to immediate needs.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    Sometimes I grab the tool closest that might work, not the one best for the job .When I built a cedar strip canoe, a 1 1/4" black handled Sanvik got a lot of use paring. It was a Swedish made one, not one of the later ones, thin bladed and it balanced well. Recently I was inleting a couple of gunstocks , a simple Stanley #60? 3/8" butt got a work out. On an old door with it's old hardware, I wished I packed a more complete set of chisels with me, 5/8" and 7/8" .

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Michigan
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    I use the set of Japanese chisels most of the time. The tray travels to the bench and I use all sizes about equally.

    Chisels in Drawer.jpg

    That big chisel on the right is an emotional favorite. I found it in a flower pot with my mother's other gardening tools.
    Last edited by Tom Bender; 06-28-2021 at 8:17 AM.

  10. #10
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    Tom, what’s with the roller chain in the middle of the chisel tray? Is that a handle to lift it out?
    Jim
    Ancora Yacht Service

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    North Alabama
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    I use the set of Japanese chisels most of the time. The tray travels to the bench and I use all sizes about equally.

    Chisels in Drawer.jpg
    I've been looking for ideas for an organized chisel tray. Most of mine are either in their original boxes (nice-ish boxes, but not as compactly arranged as they could be) or loose in a drawer. I like the way yours is done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    That big chisel on the right is an emotional favorite. I found it in a flower pot with my mother's other gardening tools.
    My dad at 96 still has his tools, but some of the ones he's given to me over the years are true favorites of mine.
    Chuck Taylor

  12. #12
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    yes the roller chain is the handle

  13. #13
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    Jun 2010
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    Socket Chisels tend to be....Witherby or New Haven Edge Tool.

  14. #14
    I use the sharpest one so it changes. More seriously, I use the wide ones most.
    Last edited by Thomas Wilson; 06-28-2021 at 7:24 PM.

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