Homebrewed fishtail chisel

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Project by Bertha posted 10-09-2017 10:44 PM 2229 views 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A project made out of wood! with a metal thingie sticking out of it.

I found a thick stainless cheese knife at TJMaxx for a couple bucks and it caught my eye for some reason. I traced off the desired shape and cut the waste off with a cutting disc in the foredom. I marked off where I wanted the tang to go.

I made successively deeper perpendicular cuts with an angle grinder to shape the tang, then cut the comb to get the shape slope I wanted. I sanded here and there with the Fein until it was generally symmetrical.

Started flattening. The “natural” edge of the cheese knife was a little rounded and wouldn’t flatten. I gently shaped past the round with a sanding disc in the foredom. Got the back mirrored on sandpaper up to 2000.

I struck at 30 degrees on the grinder but I didn’t like the quality of the edge and I didn’t want to lose precious metal, so I switched to a jig on sandpaper.

I flipped back and forth on 2000 until I liked the edge, then I stropped with tripoli.

I fussed around with files and sandpaper until I got the matte finish I was after. I won’t bore you with lathe pics but I turned a handle out of cocobolo, popped on a ferrule, and crossed my fingers when I drove the tang home.

Nicest cheese knife I own!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

12 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile


18133 posts in 4120 days

#1 posted 10-10-2017 12:13 AM

Right on. Making your own tools is pretty hoss. I made a completely useless wooden cleaver for S&G’s and got quite a bit of satisfaction out of it.

Using this one for DT’s?

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26290 posts in 4219 days

#2 posted 10-10-2017 12:46 AM

Real nice chisel. You did a fine job on it!!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3807 days

#3 posted 10-10-2017 02:08 AM

Yep, Stef. For narrow half blinds. I have all the requisite skews and some un-restored fishtails. I figured what the hell. I couldn’t find a production version that was skinny enough to get into really tight DTs. My Iles come closest but I’ve been using some 1/16 01-stock that I put an edge on. I hoard all kinds of tool steel waiting for that day when I get a mill. You know how a lot of guys strictly turn after being “bitten” by turning? I’m worried that will happen to me if I get a mill.

Thanks Jim!!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3981 days

#4 posted 10-10-2017 12:45 PM

You did a really nice job on this shop made tool. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 3781 days

#5 posted 10-10-2017 01:26 PM

Nice looking tool and having it made yourself will give you pride and satisfaction every time you use it .

-- Kiefer

View AnthonyReed's profile


10173 posts in 3554 days

#6 posted 10-10-2017 01:55 PM

Spotting a fishtail chisel in a TJMaxx cheese knife, there has to be a Rorschach articulation in that somewhere. Very cool seeing the transformation, it came out great. You love to polish the wood, obviously, it’s pro level.

Always an intriguing venture into your train of thought, thank you for sharing it man!

-- ~Tony

View terryR's profile


7646 posts in 3422 days

#7 posted 10-10-2017 02:34 PM

I like it.

Bud, lose your dream of owning a mill unless you want to make scores of these. (I’m in the same situation) Wear out that Foredom if you can, and don’t forget some good ole manual file work

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3807 days

#8 posted 10-10-2017 08:21 PM

^I know you’re right, Terry. Then I’d want a surface planer. Then a CNC for limited work. Then a multi-axis CNC. Hell, maybe a water jet! I like hand tools and hand work. You’re right. I need to remember that. Spend my money on some Aurios.

And Tony, it’s Christef that does all the polishing but he only does it on round shaft stock.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


9540 posts in 3523 days

#9 posted 10-11-2017 03:40 AM

Nice work. Home made tools are some of my most used tools.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View mafe's profile


13202 posts in 4203 days

#10 posted 11-16-2017 11:12 AM

Lovely chisel.
You made it a real Bertha.
The best tools are the once we make.
Best thoughts,

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

View EricTwice's profile


248 posts in 1647 days

#11 posted 11-16-2017 11:31 AM

I think the only thing better than working wood with fine quality tools is when you’ve made the tools yourself

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3807 days

#12 posted 11-17-2017 06:30 PM

Thanks guys. I’ve been using it for a while now and 1) the steel sucks and 2) it works wonderfully. I don’t think I’d change the design much, but I’d use something other than TJMaxx tool steel lol.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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