Learn How to Use a Wood Chisel for Making Distinct Cuts

Are you wondering about the numerous uses of a chisel? It is a small yet essential tool for all types of wood smiths. From making sharp and delicate cuts to chopping large items—a chisel is a multi-purpose device. In this article, you will learn how to use a wood chisel for making varying types of cuts!

That said, before going ahead with the different cutting techniques, you must understand that chisels can be of various kinds. With the Beveled-Edge being the most common, others include Pairing, Masonry, Bench, Mortise, Butt, etc.


How to Use a Chisel – the Different Cutting Techniques

The cutting technique that you use for using a chisel depends upon your requirement. Here is a list of different cuts, along with a comprehensive guide to use the chisel for each of them. Read on to find out which method will suit your cutting project the most.

Mortise Cut

You may want to cut a shallow or deep recess of a wood known as mortises. These are further used as mortise and tenon joints or for a shallow fitting like a door hinge. You can use chisels like butt, bench, beveled-edge, or mortise to make this cut.

First of all, you must create a line with a sharp knife to know the recess’s exact size. Place the fitting on the wood and score around. Next, hold your chisel vertically along the drawn line and cut down by lightly striking a mallet or hammer. Repeat this for all four sides.

Now position your chisel at an angle with its bevel side down on one of the edges of the recess. Start cutting by tapping on the tool lightly with a mallet. You may increase the angle for deeper cuts but follow a horizontal path to avoid digging into the wood.

Chopping Cut

One of the most common types—the chopping cut is usually made when grafting a large wood piece. You can also use it for marking or drawing lines on the wood before getting to other cuts like mortise and pare. You can use a mortise, beveled-edge, butt, or bench chisel for making this cut.

To chop with a chisel, hold it at a perpendicular angle to the wood with your left (or non-dominant) hand. However, if you want to create a line, place the chisel with its beveled edge facing the wood. Now that you have the tool in position use a mallet or hammer to strike the chisel top.

You may have to make several blows for deeper cuts and light ones for shallow cuts. Another point to remember is if you are cutting a large piece of wood, you must first cut a portion vertically. After cutting almost 2 inches with the chisel upright, cut it horizontally to remove the section.

Paring Cut

When you need to level the wood surface by scrapping extra wood, use a chisel to make a paring cut. The best part about this cut is it does not require the use of a mallet. To make a paring cut, you can use an all-purpose bench chisel.

Position the blade with the bevel side facing upwards, keeping it flat on the workpiece. Now push it forward through the wood and then to the side, creating an arch. It will result in removing thin flakes off the wood. You can repeat the same steps to get a completely flat surface.

Rabbet Cut

Another common type of cut—the rabbet cut is like a mortise but at the wood’s edges. It is cut at a 90-degree angle. To make a rabbet cut, first mark its length and width using a sharp knife. Next, start chopping small pieces by vertically making a cut and scraping that wooden piece off.

You can follow this process until you have cut off the desired wood along the drawn line. Now you can smoothen the surface by paring and removing the extra wood.

Chop and Pare

It is a relatively unique wood-cutting technique that you can use for carving housing joints. You can use a standard chisel for this purpose, given it is sharp enough.

First, hold the chisel vertically, then cut the desired depth by striking with a mallet and chop it down. Make the next cut almost 1/2 inch away and repeat the chopping process to get the required number of cuts.

Once you have made enough cuts, you can smoothen it by paring. Lay the blade flat and remove the extra wood by pushing the chisel forward.


Wrap Up

Using a chisel is a relatively easy process, given you know the type of cuts you want to make. However, one thing that you must remember is always to cut in the wood grain direction. This way, you will make perfectly-horizontal cuts instead of digging more into the wood.

Now that you know how to use a chisel determine the right technique and cut like a pro!

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