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Mortise Chisels

by BubbaIBA
posted 08-27-2014 04:10 PM


25 replies so far

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

12866 posts in 3694 days


#1 posted 08-27-2014 04:23 PM

couldn’t agree with you more

the other three in the role are sash mortise chisels

Edit, just as an aside, you wouldn’t want to try this with a sash chisel!

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#2 posted 08-28-2014 02:14 AM

I wouldn’t want to do that with any chisel :-).

I have to take my hat off to you guys that make workbench through mortises. I’ve built a couple of benches lately all had the slab and base connected with blind mortises that were pinned.

My last bench base had 12 1/2” wide x 100mm long mortises chopped 60mm deep. For the 12 mortices I spent less than 3 hours total and I do not work fast, lots of time spent having tea, scratching the shop dog’s butt and checking progress.

View Wally331's profile

Wally331

350 posts in 3268 days


#3 posted 08-28-2014 02:21 AM

I’ve yet to try a pig sticker, however I do have two of the narexes. Even the smaller ones are ~7/16 in cross section about an inch from the ferrule/bolster. They are plenty heavy duty and well made. Of course the handles aren’t the prettiest or ovular in cross section, but I chop mortises pretty often in hard and soft woods and they perform admirably. Especially for $8 a piece. That said I’d love to have some pig stickers just for the cool factor ;).

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BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#4 posted 08-28-2014 02:21 AM

I wouldn’t want to do that with any chisel :-).

I have to take my hat off to you guys that make workbench through mortises. I’ve built a couple of benches lately all had the slab and base connected with blind mortises that were pinned.

My last bench base had 12 1/2” wide x 100mm long mortises chopped 60mm deep. For the 12 mortices I spent less than 3 hours total and I do not work fast, lots of time spent having tea, scratching the shop dog’s butt and checking progress.

Here is the almost finished bench with the 12 draw bored M/T joints:

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BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#5 posted 08-28-2014 02:28 AM



I ve yet to try a pig sticker, however I do have two of the narexes. Even the smaller ones are ~7/16 in cross section about an inch from the ferrule/bolster. They are plenty heavy duty and well made. Of course the handles aren t the prettiest or ovular in cross section, but I chop mortises pretty often in hard and soft woods and they perform admirably. Especially for $8 a piece. That said I d love to have some pig stickers just for the cool factor ;).

- Wally331

Wally,

I hadn’t thought about measuring but the 1/2” pig sticker is 20mm (about 7/8”) deep at that point. It’s more than the cool factor, they work better.

ken

View crank49's profile

crank49

4032 posts in 4214 days


#6 posted 08-28-2014 03:21 PM

I don’t see the difference in my Narex mortise chisels and your pig sticker.
They certainly do not look like mortise sash chisels.

Not saying Narex is equal to Ray Iles, but other than the handle shape the blade seems to be very similar.

View BubbaIBA's profile

BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#7 posted 08-28-2014 05:31 PM

It is good that your Narex mortice chisels work for you. they have a very good price.

Some folks do not like the English mortice chisel because of the weight and size, as always there are many ways to do the same job….some work well for one, some not so well.

BTW, after looking closer at the Narex mortice chisel I would probably class it as a Heavy Duty Sash Mortice chisel or a Firmer chisel even though it has a taper, not a Sash Mortice chisel. Not that it makes a hill of beans :-).

View walden's profile

walden

1552 posts in 3265 days


#8 posted 08-29-2014 01:59 AM

I love the pig stickers. I went with a 5/16 inch to take the place of the 1/4 and 3/8. I’ve been thinking about getting the 1/2 inch.

-- "I am hiring a realtor if and when the day comes a lion is on my roof."

View BubbaIBA's profile

BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#9 posted 08-29-2014 02:16 AM



I love the pig stickers. I went with a 5/16 inch to take the place of the 1/4 and 3/8. I ve been thinking about getting the 1/2 inch.
- walden

It kinda depends on the size of work you do. You may be able to see in the photo my 1/2” has had little use other than this last bench build, The 3/8” is another story. That said, when making the last bench I wished for a 5/8”, shame they don’t come that big :-).

ken

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BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#10 posted 08-29-2014 02:37 AM

One more thought on chopping mortices. English Mortices chisels are not always the best choice. For wide and deep mortices there is nothing better but for small shallow mortices such as ones for top buttons a pig sticker is overkill. A sash mortice or even better a bevel edge bench chisel would be my choice.

I guess that is why my walls are covered with chisel racks, most have a purpose and will do that job better than one that has a different purpose. The ancients knew a thing or two about working wood, shame we have lost most of that knowledge.

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2818 posts in 4126 days


#11 posted 08-29-2014 03:22 AM

thanks for posting this; I have Robert Sorby “mortise” chisels, which have never really worked well for me. Ordered a set of the Ray Iles today, really looking forward to having functional mortise chisels!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#12 posted 08-29-2014 05:21 AM



thanks for posting this; I have Robert Sorby “mortise” chisels, which have never really worked well for me. Ordered a set of the Ray Iles today, really looking forward to having functional mortise chisels!

- Manitario

I have a set of Sorby mortice chisels, had ‘em for years in fact they were the first mortice chisels I purchased back in the 70’s. They never really worked that well for me either. I keep ‘em sharp and oiled but never use them.

I think you will find the Ray Iles’ chisels a pleasure to use.

ken

View Loren's profile

Loren

11270 posts in 4891 days


#13 posted 08-29-2014 07:01 AM

Usually when I mortise by hand it’s a delicate operation
with a short mortise with tender shoulders and I use
registered or sash mortise chisels. The pigsticker’s
geometry would get in the way.

I have mortising machines. Still, mortising by hand with a
heavy chisel made for the job is good fun and
I recommend hand mortising as a skill. It can
help liberate us from the shackles of table
saw type thinking… if you can cut a weird
mortise by hand you can cut a weird tenon and
before you know it you’re building curved stuff,
hacking together rough joints in odd functional
wood objects, making anything you like despite
your machines.

View Tim Anderson's profile

Tim Anderson

152 posts in 2973 days


#14 posted 08-29-2014 01:35 PM

I’ve been cutting all my mortises by hand with the woodriver chisels and never had a problem. Is there a real advantage to using one of these thicker mortising chisels? I could see it being easier to align with the wider chisel body, but other than that the operation seems like it is basically the same.

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

View BubbaIBA's profile

BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#15 posted 08-29-2014 02:19 PM


I ve been cutting all my mortises by hand with the woodriver chisels and never had a problem. Is there a real advantage to using one of these thicker mortising chisels? I could see it being easier to align with the wider chisel body, but other than that the operation seems like it is basically the same.

- Tim Anderson

Tim,

You are correct, the operation of chopping mortices is the same….place chisel, whack chisel, lever chisel, repeat until everything that is not a mortice is removed. It can and has been done using a sharpened screwdriver and I would expect in the hands of an expert a screwdriver chopped mortice would be as good as or better than one chopped by the best mortice chisel made in the hands of the average woodworker. That said, almost any operation will be done better and with greater ease using the best tool for the job. An example would be removing or tightening a bolt, you can do it using a “monkey wrench” but it works better using the correct “SnapOn” socket and ratchet.

A Pig Sticker is like the SnapOn tool, it is designed to do one thing and that is to chop mortices. The shape of the handle and the iron have evolved over time to maximize the efficiency of that job.

Of course as always…..YMMV.

ken

View Tim Anderson's profile

Tim Anderson

152 posts in 2973 days


#16 posted 08-29-2014 03:38 PM

Ken, I understand what you mean about the shape of everything evolving over time to be the best, I was just wondering what specifically makes the pigsticker better than my chisels (or the sharpened screwdriver you mentioned).

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

11272 posts in 3535 days


#17 posted 08-29-2014 04:13 PM

I would tend to agree. The Narex chisels are ok (I had a full set of them until recently) but I switched to picking up some of the new Isles mortise chisels you’ve shown, and really like them. They’re bigger and heavier, and that has its pros and cons associated. They’re also more expensive… I’ve also done some light mortise work with my sort-of-bevel edge chisels; my modern Stanley Bailey chisels (I don’t use my Ashley Iles bevel edge chisels for motises)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

View BubbaIBA's profile

BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#18 posted 08-29-2014 04:15 PM

Tim,

Time for just a couple; The handle is oval and oriented so when you hold and place the chisel it naturally lines up square. On better pig stickers the bolster is shaped to fit the handle,making a stronger handle that is not likely to split. The iron is tapered for maximum strength yet is light for its size. It has a long bevel to aid levering out the waste. The wide iron is relieved so it will not “stick” in deep mortices and as a side benefit the width and relief helps aline the chisel in the mortice.

ken

View Tim Anderson's profile

Tim Anderson

152 posts in 2973 days


#19 posted 08-29-2014 05:50 PM

Thanks Ken, that was just what I was looking for. I’ll have to keep an eye out for mortise chisels at yard sales so I can test one out and compare it to my bevel-edgers.

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2818 posts in 4126 days


#20 posted 08-29-2014 05:55 PM


Tim,

Time for just a couple; The handle is oval and oriented so when you hold and place the chisel it naturally lines up square. On better pig stickers the bolster is shaped to fit the handle,making a stronger handle that is not likely to split. The iron is tapered for maximum strength yet is light for its size. It has a long bevel to aid levering out the waste. The wide iron is relieved so it will not “stick” in deep mortices and as a side benefit the width and relief helps aline the chisel in the mortice.
ken

- BubbaIBA

And you can stick pigs with them should the need arise

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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BubbaIBA

545 posts in 3619 days


#21 posted 08-29-2014 07:51 PM

Tim,

Odds are if you find a vintage English Mortice chisel the handle will be in bad shape and they are not easy to properly re-handle. I’ve done it and it is a PITA to get it right. I just did a quick look on eBay, all available were very rough both iron and handle and would cost $40 USD or more by the time you paid shipping. I’m not trying to sell the Ray Iles’ chisels but I’ve been down that road before and the Iles’ chisels are a bargain. Not only do they work out of the box the iron is D2 steel, one of the toughest tool steels.

Get a 3/8”, if you like it great get a couple more. If not, you can sell it for very little loss. I can almost guarantee that is the cheapest way to go. Or buy a 5/16” and if you don’t like it I will take off your hands for $60 USD :-).

ken

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

29716 posts in 3926 days


#22 posted 08-29-2014 08:13 PM

close as I’ll get to the pig sticker kind

Seems to work on that oak I was using

actually have two in this size

Plus that 1/4” one. About all I need, right now.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Loren's profile

Loren

11270 posts in 4891 days


#23 posted 08-29-2014 08:42 PM

There’s an agument to be made that a long millwright’s
chisel works just as well. There’s a technique to doing
it I read about when I thing you leave a big cone
in the center of the mortise, cutting down to depth
on the ends, then pop the cone out with leveraging
cuts.

Anyway, the way I do it I learned from a FWW article.
I chop, chop, lever, chop, lever, turn the chisel
around and chop, chop, lever, chop lever, etc.
to finish the first pass, then the same routine over
and over again to get to depth. It’s not dreadfully
slow but I think the method with a millwright’s
chisel I mentioned above may be faster. Consider
a millwright’s chisel has quite a taper and is thin at
the end so it can chop a narrow mortise without
the body of the chisel interfering with the levering.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

29716 posts in 3926 days


#24 posted 08-29-2014 09:25 PM

Just for anyone’s enjoyment. there is a series of videos on the youtube by a GE HONG

He’ll layout the lines
he WILL use a Hatchet as a hammer
He will chop a through mortise in the time it takes to read this
One hit, a couple wiggles, walk the chisel to the next spot, while the hatch is starting it’s swing.

NO fiddling around, either. Just chop and go on. Through mortise in something he calls Rosewood in about this time….

Times up, is it chopped through yet?

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Loren's profile

Loren

11270 posts in 4891 days


#25 posted 08-29-2014 09:41 PM

I’ll have to try some of his methods.

He’s fast, but the point should be made that mortising with
a chisel with a reasonable cross-section for the job can
be a reasonably efficient process if you just get to it.

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