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Thread: Mortise chisels

  1. #1
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    Mortise chisels

    Ive been on the list for MCs at LN for several months and called them this am. They just had a run of them and apparently 8 mos wasnt enough of a wait to qualify for the buy and the next run is a few months out. Im patient and like LN products but at this point I need the chisels. Im looking for a 1/4, 1/2 & 3/4 or equivalent metric. What do you like?

  2. #2
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    At the moment I am using Fujikawa mortice chisels, and enjoying them greatly. I like their size (better sized for furniture making), which is probably closer to LN than Veritas (Veritas are larger than LN and closer to the English Bolstered style, which I have moved away from). Fujikawa specialised in mortice chisels before more recently offering bench and paring chisels as well. I have just these two, a 6mm and 9mm ...



    Another useful addition here is a Sokozari (bottom cleaning chisel)...



    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 10-01-2021 at 2:04 PM.

  3. #3
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    I like the Ray Iles "pig stickers" sold by TFWW. (They're out of 1/4" and don't seem to carry 3/4", but have all the other sizes including 1/2" in stock.)

    I've often seen the Narex mortise chisels praised for their value. I don't have any reason to think they wouldn't work well too, but I like the look and feel better of the more expensive ones.

  4. #4
    I have a set of 20+ year old Sorby boxwood handled sash mortise chisels as well as a newer Ray Iles bolstered but generally prefer the Ray Iles when the size is right. Veritas now makes mortise chisels in both A2 and PV-V11 and I expect they are nice. I like the edge holding characteristics of the one PM-V11 bench chisel that I own - that extended wear capability could be a plus in a mortise chisel. I am also sure that I could be very happy with some of Stan Covintgton's Japanese mortise chisels too. You have a number of good choices on both the new and used market. A well sharpened, nicely made tool tends to let you concentrate on your work - it just becomes an extension of your hands.

    As nice as the matched sets look lined up in a rack or a drawer, I would take this opportunity to sample several vendors and see what YOU like in terms of edge holding, balance and fit/finish. Bob Smalser used to sing the praises of older millwright mortise chisels. I don't think those have been in production for ages but a little judicious searching I am sure would turn up something worth taking for a test drive. Too many tools, too little time and money. Good luck with your search!

  5. #5
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    +1 for Ray Iles Pigstickers. They feel good in my hand and are very robust. I have the 1/4 & 1/2. The 1/4 gets a lot more use. One of these days I might get a 3/8.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Frederick View Post
    I’ve been on the list for MC’s at LN for several months and called them this am. They just had a run of them and apparently 8 mos wasn’t enough of a wait to qualify for the buy and the next run is a few months out. I’m patient and like LN products but at this point I need the chisels. I’m looking for a 1/4, 1/2 & 3/4” or equivalent metric. What do you like?
    Jack, the 1/4 & 1/2" are good sizes for working with the fir & pine so common here on the west coast. The 3/4" is an uncommon size for a mortise chisel and unless something isn't showing on my screen, the LN site doesn't list one.

    A heavier 3/4" chisel works well for me cutting mortises:

    Leg Mortise 3:4%22 USN Chisel.jpg

    This chisel was found at a second hand store for $3. One of my better finds:

    3:4%22 U.S.N. Chisel.jpg

    It was made by Winsted Edge Tool Works for the U.S. Navy.

    It looks like the better 3/4" mortise chisels on ebay are from across the Atlantic.

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

  7. #7
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    I ordered a 1/2 Ray Ikes today. Derek, the Fujikawa was not available currently. Seems to be a trend. As always, much obliged for the help.

  8. #8
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    I think you'll be pleased with the Ray Iles chisel.

  9. #9
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    I had no problems with the Narex Chisels, but I sold them since I also have the Ashley iles and I liked them better so I sold the Narex Chisels. I think that Paul Sellers has claimed no issues using a regular chisel, so if you really want the Lie Nielsen, use a regular chisel until they are available.

    A note about the Ashley Iiles chisels:

    https://toolsforworkingwood.com/store/item/MS-MORT.XX


    The sides of the chisel form a slight trapezoid, so that if your chisel isn't perfectly aligned with the cut you won't damage the sides of the mortise, and more importantly, there is a lot less of a chance for the chisel to get stuck. You just push the chisel in the mortise a little and it loosens up. Lighter sash mortise chisels are ground parallel but that's because they are designed for shallower mortises in window sashes which are usually in soft wood. Some manufacturers say that that parallel sides make it easier to guide and align the chisel with the mortise but in fact the alignment of the mortise is determined by the first stroke of the blade into the wood, long before the sides of the chisel can have any effect.
    I assume that most mortise chisels are not shaped like this, but I don't really know that; just be aware of it. Depending on how you sharpen this may be good or bad; I am thinking about side clamping. Lie Nielsen does not mention what they do, but Lee Valley claims that they do. I have not tried the Lee Valley mortise chisels, but I really like the other chisels I have from them.

    https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop...ortise-chisels


    The chisel sides are slightly relieved to reduce sidewall friction and allow for minor cut corrections. Each has a 25 primary bevel to make deep cuts easier, with a 35 secondary bevel to give them a durable cutting edge. To aid in levering out waste, the heel of the bevel is rounded to provide a smooth fulcrum. A2 or PM-V11 tool steel versions are available.
    Lee Valley does not offer a 3/4" version. Then again, I do not see this from Lie Nielsen either. Sorby Registered Mortise Chisels do come in 3/4"

    https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop...ortise-chisels

    Will be interested in what you choose to buy.

  10. #10
    Just curious, is a mortise chisel worth getting? I have a set of Stanley Sweetheart, and while I do know mortise chisels make cutting mortises a whole lot easier, I can't afford like a full set. If I could buy two, which sizes should I get?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Etto View Post
    Just curious, is a mortise chisel worth getting? I have a set of Stanley Sweetheart, and while I do know mortise chisels make cutting mortises a whole lot easier, I can't afford like a full set. If I could buy two, which sizes should I get?
    Gerald,

    It depends on the dimensions you use. The math for mortises is usually 1/3 the thickness of the material. In other words, a mortise in 3/4 stock should be 1/4; 1 1/2 stock (6/4) should be 1/2. There are exceptions but thats the general rule. You want at least an equal amount of support on the sides of the mortise. Those are the widths I generally work with so I have 1/4 and 1/2 mortise chisels. As noted above, I use the 1/4 the most.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Etto View Post
    Just curious, is a mortise chisel worth getting? I have a set of Stanley Sweetheart, and while I do know mortise chisels make cutting mortises a whole lot easier, I can't afford like a full set. If I could buy two, which sizes should I get?
    In a video I saw with Peter Sellers he says you do not need a mortise chisel. So, if you do not cut a lot of mortises yo probably do not need them. If you do want one, just buy the sizes you expect to use. So, if you think you will join 3/4" wood, then get a 1/4" chisel (for example).

    I think that I have a 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2. I do not cut many and I have probably not used all three of them but sometimes a friend works with me in the shop and I don't always pay attention to what size mortise he is chopping.

  13. #13
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    Im sure you meant Paul Sellers, not the comedian Peter Sellers. I smiled because this mixup is so familiar to me: Ive been called Paul (my twins name) more often than not.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Etto View Post
    Just curious, is a mortise chisel worth getting? I have a set of Stanley Sweetheart, and while I do know mortise chisels make cutting mortises a whole lot easier, I can't afford like a full set. If I could buy two, which sizes should I get?
    Howdy Gerald and a belated welcome to the cave by the Creek.

    As others have posted, this depends on how many mortises you intend to cut. Many of my mortises have been cut with chisels that are actually framing chisels or straight sided firmer chisels. Some have been cut with lighter chisels.

    One rule of thumb is the mortise & tenon should be 1/3 the width of the pieces joined if they are of equal size.

    One point from the Tools For Working Wood site:

    The primary bevel on the chisel is ground to a very narrow 20 degree angle. This of course is not a strong enough angle to hold up to vicious chopping, but it's historically accurate because the narrow angle lets a blow on the chisel push the chisel very deep. And that's what we want - to go as deep as possible with each blow.
    In the discussion of the bevel angle it also mentions "vicious chopping." My heaviest mallet is used with my hardiest blows when cutting a mortise.

    The main point is you do not want a dainty chisel for heavy work. In the link Andrew posted for Tools For Working Wood there is an image of a traditional mortise chisel (pig sticker). Compare this to the Sorby Registered Chisels at Lee Valley.

    Chisels made for the sole purpose of mortising are typically much thicker front to back than the Sorby Registered Chisels. The Sorby chisels are definitely stout enough to cut mortises. They are also convenient for other tasks in need of a heavier chisel.

    In my case, there are both mortise chisels and heavy firmer chisels in my accumulation. There are also many other chisels. My wallet comes out too easily when there is a nice looking tool in front of me. Maybe there are meetings for people like me… Hello, my name is Jim and I hunt rust…

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 10-04-2021 at 5:40 PM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Mich View Post
    Im sure you meant Paul Sellers, not the comedian Peter Sellers. I smiled because this mixup is so familiar to me: Ive been called Paul (my twins name) more often than not.
    Wow, how did I get Peter from Paul? I don't even think that I can blame auto-correct!

    Yes indeed, Paul Sellers!

    <resisting urge to say "thank you Paul Mich">

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