Stupid Mortising Chisel Question

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Forum topic by Axle505 posted 11-02-2016 03:29 AM 1437 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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143 posts in 1688 days

11-02-2016 03:29 AM

I plan to take a hand tool joinery class soon, and am collecting tools ahead of time in preparation. Mortising chisels—how are they sharpened/cared for? Do I just hollow-grind them on my Tormek sharpener as I would a regular chisel? Also, what do we think of Narex chisels? Thanks!

22 replies so far

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6985 posts in 4047 days

#1 posted 11-02-2016 03:36 AM

Rockler sells a Mortising Sharpening Kit that works good….I’ve had one for a year or so, and it’s right around $40.00….It sharpens the chisels nicely…

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View TheFridge's profile


10861 posts in 2339 days

#2 posted 11-02-2016 03:39 AM

The Narex are solid from what I’ve heard. The Ashley iles are Cadillacs.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View jdh122's profile


1173 posts in 3670 days

#3 posted 11-02-2016 06:35 AM

I have the Narex mortising chisels and find they work well, although I’ve picked up a few old pig-sticker style ones at flea markets and like them better for the added heft. I don’t like to hollow-grind my mortise chisels, as it removes some of the supporting metal behind the tip and I think the edge won’t last as long as with a flat bevel or micro-bevel. But I could be wrong…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Robert's profile


3950 posts in 2333 days

#4 posted 11-02-2016 01:24 PM

Yes you hollow grind like a regular chisel. I polish back and both sides.

IMO Narex is the best buy out there for a limited budget. I have both a set of Narex bevel egde and mortising. The only chisels I can compare to our Irwin Marples which I consider a heavy chisel and will work for mortising too. I will eventually start accumulating Lie Nielsen chisels but for now they get the job done for me.

Edge retention is pretty good I would say. I like the feel of the handles compared to a close competitor, the Stanley 750, of which I am underwhelmed with the steel. They are also too light and too small for my mitts.

As an aside, if you’re ever looking at Narex bench chisels, they make two lines. The “premium” line is better because they have a lower side bevel height.

(BTW, Paul Sellers says mortising chisels unnecessary and only uses standard bevel edge chisels for mortising).

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View bandit571's profile


26507 posts in 3536 days

#5 posted 11-02-2016 02:25 PM

Ah…no..wrong. Mortise chisels..

Are ground with a 25 degree flat bevel, the towards to cutting edge, it turns into a 35 degree bevel. If you want hollow grind something, save it for the plane irons.
These two are a Japanese 12mm, and a Buck Brothers 3/8” mortise chisels Some will round the transistion between the two bevels to make chopping a little easier. Hollow ground bevels will merely get stuck. The hollow will force the chisel backwards. Then, when you pry the chisel out, you’ll leave the edge in the wood.

Even if you buy a new MORTISE chisel, look at the bevel first. BEFORE you go willy-nilly off to the grinder. Backs should be flat.

Unless it was made in Japan. The hollow is supposed to be there on them. Been using Mortise ( and Sash) chisels for quite a while now.

Have a decent set of each growing. Just hone the edge with a strop is about all they need. A mortise chisel works best with the bevel towards you.

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

View waho6o9's profile


8942 posts in 3430 days

#6 posted 11-02-2016 02:30 PM

A little trick to get that clean cut look:

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6985 posts in 4047 days

#7 posted 11-02-2016 03:08 PM

Uh….Uh oh…I misread the OP’s post wrong…..I thought he was talking about the chisels that go in a mortiseing machine…..but he is talking about bench chisels….Sorry ‘bout that…!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View Axle505's profile


143 posts in 1688 days

#8 posted 11-02-2016 03:30 PM

What other new brands are being sold? Respected? I’ve seen a company called Sorby—expensive.

View UpstateNYdude's profile


962 posts in 2836 days

#9 posted 11-02-2016 03:40 PM

TheFridge gave you the name of the best ones I’ve seen, owned and used. He misspoke on the name they are Ray Iles for the mortising chisels and they are phenomenal, I have the 1/4 and 3/8” pair and they magical to work with.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View Axle505's profile


143 posts in 1688 days

#10 posted 11-02-2016 06:59 PM

Ok, another stupid question: What is the difference between paring chisels and mortising chisels?

View TerryDowning's profile


1146 posts in 2970 days

#11 posted 11-02-2016 07:07 PM

Not a stupid question at all.

Here is a good primer on the different types of woodworking chisels antheir intended usage.

A short guide to Chisels

-- - Terry

View Mosquito's profile


10440 posts in 3145 days

#12 posted 11-02-2016 07:18 PM

+1 on Ray Iles mortise chisels. I’ve got the same 2 sizes Nick does, and they are fantastic. I had bought the full set of Narex mortise chisels, used them for about a year, sold the set, and replaced them with a Ray Iles 3/8” chisel (yes they’re expensive compared to Narex). I later picked up the 1/4” and have been happy since.

Terry shared a great resource for chisel knowledge. The short of it is:
  • A paring chisel is typically thin and longer, with a shallower bevel and should NOT be used with a mallet. Think of them as more of a “clean-up” tool.
  • A mortise chisel is thicker, heavier duty, and with a steeper bevel angle.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Axle505's profile


143 posts in 1688 days

#13 posted 11-02-2016 07:43 PM

Right on—thanks everyone for the help!

View Axle505's profile


143 posts in 1688 days

#14 posted 11-06-2016 06:45 PM

Found a Greenlee 1/4” mortising chisel. It’s in beautiful shape with the leather top. Would love to find more in this style of different sizes? Anyone have any for sale?

View PHXRob's profile


33 posts in 1425 days

#15 posted 11-06-2016 07:43 PM

A little trick to get that clean cut look:

- waho6o9

great tip!

-- "Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets" - Ron Swanson

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