Dovetail chisels DIY (skewed, fishtail and left, right dovetail versions) blog #5: *Paring and a Exocto science (for beginners...)*

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Blog entry by mafe posted 03-06-2011 02:33 PM 8413 reads 5 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: *Fitting handles on the chisels * Part 5 of Dovetail chisels DIY (skewed, fishtail and left, right dovetail versions) blog series Part 6: Upgrade of the set »

Paring and a Exacto science
ok perhaps not science… just minding the grip.

When using the chisels I realized I still had to reach for my other set to pare, and for smaller cuts, key holes and cleaning out it would be fine with a delicate cutting tool.
Exacto knifes are not exactly science, but they are really easy to use, and you can sharpen and shape the blades as you wish fast on a grinder.
So it was time to make an update on the dovetail chisel set!

Excato knife, two wonderful old English cabinetmakers chisels and three fresh turned handles.

Beating up those handles with my new brass mallet , notice a little worm have had a life in the handle once (I start to like those little bastards (when they are gone)).

We are on a good road here I think.

Clean up the tangs , keep them rough, so they will bind better in the handle when set.

Cut the Exacto, exactly where you like it.

Find a drill that match the Exacto and drill a hole in the handle (this is the rocket part…).

Fit the ferrule, and cut it over.

Sand the end for beauty and comfort.

This is where we want to be now!

Now we take a detour to the chisels.
Mark the center.

Find two or three drill bits that graduate in size, from small to a little smaller than the with oh the tang top.
(Like a tall pyramid, if this makes any sense).

Start with the smallest drill and drill a little deeper than the lengths of the tang.
Then step up in size and drill less deep and so.

Clean out the hole.

Fit the tang, so it is sticking up a little (the hole is too small).

Like this!

Then fasten the iron to your wise and bang the handle on.
Three ways now:
1. the handle was too small and cracked so you need to go back to start.
2. the hole was too big so the tang falls out, go to the epoxy part.
3. the tang sits tight in the handle so you smile and continue this tutorial.

Perhaps it’s me, but I have no doubt who is the ugly dugly here…

Exacto again.
Clean out if needed.

Epoxy! This is so exiting.

A ferrule that doesn’t fit can be glued in place too.

And fill up the handle of the Exacto.

Hole in one.

Now we have several possibilities in one tool, all from keyhole, cutting, marking and chiseling with custom made blades like my little dovetail here. Cheap fast easy.

Here are the updated set in the tool roll.

And here ready to work.
Sweet is it not?
(Perhaps my water based self confidence survived the rain after all).

I was having a cold, so no smoking the pipe…

Hope this winged dovetail tour could be to inspiration, perhaps bring some old chisels back to a new life,

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

14 comments so far

View mafe's profile


13202 posts in 4208 days

#1 posted 03-06-2011 02:38 PM

UPS bad start, pictures should be in place now!

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3923 days

#2 posted 03-06-2011 03:16 PM

definately like the hand made wood handles better. nice, very nice

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 4175 days

#3 posted 03-06-2011 05:06 PM

Nice work Very creative use of the exacto. I use the regular blades to clean our the corners of the dovetails, but hadn’t ever thought about regrinding the blades into fishtails. You are a clever man.

-- Glen

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4234 days

#4 posted 03-06-2011 05:08 PM

another fantastic picture toturial from you mads :-)
thank you for making them and taking the time to do it
now I have to go to the shop after this inspiration kick I think I can manage a few hours
with the planes even though my back is killing me today after some crazy nightshifts
the last week

take care

Ps its a good potrait in the comment :-)

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 5033 days

#5 posted 03-06-2011 07:50 PM

Thanks for the picture tour, mads. I think the hardest part must be centering that hole so that the tool ends up parallel to the handle. I remember making a handle once for a file and it ended up being a bit askew. It was only for sharpening my chainsaw so made little difference and I use it anyway, but I appreciate the effort which it takes to get it right.

For ferrules, I use regular copper pipe, mainly because I have some lying around.

How did you line up the handle in your drill press? using squares?

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Bricofleur's profile


1481 posts in 4312 days

#6 posted 03-06-2011 08:53 PM

Nice job and very nice looking handles. Well thought. I believe you spend more time in the shop than anywhere else, right? And I believe it is more fun making tools than making furniture.

Thanks for sharing Mads.



-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4196 days

#7 posted 03-06-2011 09:03 PM

Very sweet indeed!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View swirt's profile


6277 posts in 4091 days

#8 posted 03-06-2011 10:16 PM

Like this kit even better now that the blog shows how you did it. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 3887 days

#9 posted 03-06-2011 10:20 PM

Very clever as usual. That is a beautiful set of tool handles. Well done!

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View mafe's profile


13202 posts in 4208 days

#10 posted 03-06-2011 11:25 PM

Hi guys,
Shopthinker, I think these handles make it a nice set, it takes the focus away from the different brands and types, and bind them together (at least that was my goal).
Swirt, I smile on my face, and you know how I love to smile.
Maveric, Big smile.
Serge, yes I do love to make tools, I take it now as a learning tour, my training camp. I have no practical education (all academic), so a lot is new, and I read a lot and then go by trail and error. But my goal is to make things from wood, I just love to build a good workshop, since this has been a wish in my life, learn about and make tools, and then hopefully use them when the health allow me. For the workshop time, I am not working as you know and my pains come and go like the skys (nitroglycerin), so when the skys are gone and it is possible I go to my little workshop, sometimes for moments, and sometimes for full hours, and yes I love it.
I have no specific goal in this, just to follow my heart and my health, perhaps some of all my design ideas can come to life when I have build enough skills.
Steve, yes I find this also the more difficult, and I must admit I have had to trash a handle once. I use only my eye, but I will try and experiment with makin a pilot hole first, my lathe have a possibility for making this while it’s still on the lathe. But with the old chisels the tang are often not straight so it will not help, so you have to bend the rules. At the end it’s practice.
Dennis, I had to put the portrait since there were no pipe in the post, you know it is like a egg without sat, to see a post of mine with no pipe. Hope you have a wonderful day.
Glen, after I got my watergrinder I find it easy to grind, and I am on my second stone now in two years…
Roger, yes the wood talk also more to me. Smile.
Best thoughts and thank you for your comments,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View HallTree's profile


5666 posts in 4886 days

#11 posted 03-07-2011 01:10 AM

They look great. Very nice. Sometime in the future I have got to get a lathe.

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View mafe's profile


13202 posts in 4208 days

#12 posted 03-07-2011 01:27 AM

Yes Ron, once you get one you will not understand how you could live without.
Thank you!
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Brit's profile


8330 posts in 3962 days

#13 posted 03-07-2011 11:02 AM

Great job Mads. You’re an inspiration. I was imagining in 50 years time someone seeing this collection of tools on eBay. It would probably read something like this:

“For auction today we have a collection of 10 craftsman made tools in leather tool roll. Superb collection of tools that would adorn any tool chest”.

Starting bid: Priceless.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4453 days

#14 posted 03-07-2011 07:44 PM

This is great work Mads and having those new matching handles raises their quality to a much higher level.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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