Chisel from a file, a copper pipe, and an off-cut of Koa wood

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Project by Chiaroscuro posted 02-03-2021 05:15 AM 1505 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, this is a project I’ve been slowly working on for a long time. I had an old, non-functional file and I wanted to see if I could get it made into a chisel. First I tried to anneal the metal with a propane torch. This did not even come close to working. I had a cutter I had made for another project that I had managed to anneal and shape but couldn’t get a good quench on and so I went old (-ish) school with a charcoal fire and a heat gun.

This was the result. A lot of sharpening and cleaning later:

For the handle, I had picked up an off-cut of Koa from Woodcraft (apparently a tree fell on private land and the bits and pieces made it to the mainland). The problem was my lathe was down for the count. A friend gave me a 1938 spindle lathe that was rusting in his side yard.

It didn’t have a spur drive though, and after searching the web for something that would screw onto the drive shaft, I ultimately had to make one out of a nut and bolt.

Ultimately that design didn’t work but after I modified it, it finally did:

I had to do a few other fixes to the lathe.

Then I dropped the old electric motor I had…. and it still worked but with fire and smoke. After failing to fix it myself, I took it to a shop where they looked at it and shook their heads. Apparently it was made prior to standardization of electric motors. They did their thing though and it currently works great. Turned the handle tonight.

In full disclosure, the handle isn’t seated quite right. I need to use my neighbor’s drill press tomorrow and fix it.

-- Todd

8 comments so far

View Chiaroscuro's profile


157 posts in 2018 days

#1 posted 02-03-2021 05:22 AM

Quenching and tempering video:

-- Todd

View Andre's profile


4737 posts in 3049 days

#2 posted 02-03-2021 06:20 AM

I use a MAPP gas torch, good job!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View pottz's profile


20663 posts in 2227 days

#3 posted 02-03-2021 03:07 PM

now thats what i call recycling.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View splintergroup's profile


5863 posts in 2466 days

#4 posted 02-03-2021 06:32 PM

Long trip to go on getting to your chisle! The results are worth it IMO, especially the experience.

View Chiaroscuro's profile


157 posts in 2018 days

#5 posted 02-03-2021 09:21 PM

Fixed and resharpened. There is still a slight angle toward the back of the blade but it is MUCH better. Still no epoxy or glue, just a tension fit. The copper isn’t glued either. Just a very (hammer) tight fit. That was from a piece I cut off from a pipe that was sticking up from the dirt next to the garage, a remnant from re-piping the house a few years ago.

Bevel is now at 25 degrees.

-- Todd

View cmmyakman's profile


348 posts in 3899 days

#6 posted 02-03-2021 10:37 PM

Very cool – I really liked the video of your heating and quenching.

-- You can't fail if you don't give up.

View swirt's profile


6631 posts in 4215 days

#7 posted 02-05-2021 02:22 AM

Wow. That is a nice looking chisel. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View BigTiny's profile


1721 posts in 4131 days

#8 posted 02-05-2021 04:26 AM

On a similar note, I was given a metal lathe that I think came over on Columbus’ first trip. Sad shape, but the price was right (free), so it sits in by basement shop waiting my attention. Your story may give me the gumption needed to get at it. Thanks.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

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