Mortising chisels

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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 11-03-2010 11:44 AM 2992 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18671 posts in 4180 days

11-03-2010 11:44 AM

Topic tags/keywords: mortise chisel

I got this from Lee Valley today.,44047,66737&p=66737 Looks like a good buy if you don’t have any yet.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

15 replies so far

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3665 days

#1 posted 11-03-2010 12:23 PM

Please excuse my ignorance but I’ve never quite understood what makes a mortising chisel so different than a bench chisel. I can see that they are thicker but in what situation would a bench chisel of the same width not work as well? Thanks.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3548 days

#2 posted 11-03-2010 01:20 PM

The Lee Valley is a special buy and according to Rob Lee won’t last too long. To Rance, mortising is totally different than most chisel work. With a bench chisel, you are either trying to shave long grain, or trying to trim off waste . When shaving, the chip is free to rise above the surface, and likewise when trimming. Each time you start a cut, or make one deeper, you are driving a chisel where there is no space for the waste to go and the chisel is mostly compressing the wood fibers on either side to allow the chisel to sink. This calls for something very sturdy, though it doesn’t have to be particularly sharp. Most mortise chisels have a bevel angle of 30 while a bench chisel will often be closer to 35 or even lower. You can use a bench chisel to square up and clean out a mortise that was mostly drilled, but if you don’t drill first, and just use a chisel to make the mortise, a bench chisel would not work any where near as well. While the LV set is a great price, normally, you don’t need a set of mortising chisels – a 1/4 inch will be all most of us ever needs.

View TheDane's profile


5689 posts in 4168 days

#3 posted 11-03-2010 05:05 PM

I ordered a set of them yesterday … as barryvabeach points out, they fill a need that bench chisels don’t do so well. I have a Jet mortiser which I will continue to use if I need to do a bunch of mortises, but for small projects that only require a couple, a mallot and set of chisels might just be the ticket.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View swirt's profile


4215 posts in 3477 days

#4 posted 11-03-2010 05:20 PM

The mortise chisel can stand up to heavy pounding and prying too as you get near the bottom of the mortise. They are indispensable in timber framing, though this style is more for bench work … timber framing mortise chisels are longer and heavier.

-- Galootish log blog,

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3545 days

#5 posted 11-03-2010 05:23 PM

Looks Nice !!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18671 posts in 4180 days

#6 posted 11-03-2010 09:08 PM

I would have ordered them , but I already have mortising chisels.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View newwoodbutcher's profile


794 posts in 3355 days

#7 posted 11-04-2010 12:09 AM

Also Mortise chisels have a somewhat sharp edge along both top edges for cutting as you leverage out waste making for a clean inside wall.

-- Ken

View MickeyD's profile


130 posts in 4031 days

#8 posted 11-04-2010 01:28 AM

Kindlingmaker and I ordered some. I thought I had bought a mortising chisel, but it was a “register chisel” and I have no idea what it’s for :) We are looking forward to the chisels arriving along with a heater for the shop.

-- -Willing to try

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4082 days

#9 posted 11-04-2010 01:32 AM

They looked good to me but I already have about 50 chisels.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3808 days

#10 posted 11-04-2010 02:20 AM

speaking of chisels, if you want one that makes a perfect square cut, these were recently introduced to lee valley and they were designed by our very own darrell peart…check them out. grizz,43456

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3548 days

#11 posted 11-04-2010 02:28 AM

Deke, if you are thinking of mortising chisels, look at the Ray Isles, Joel at TWW has them. IIRC, he has a great return policy, but check to make sure. I bought one several years and love it. It is a different design than most, but I can’t tell you how great it works. I can’t swear it will chop a mortise while I have gone to get a glass of water, but I can’t rule it out either, its that good.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4428 days

#12 posted 11-04-2010 03:55 AM

Its amazing I spent a few thousand on a drum sander but I am to cheep to lay out fifty bucks for a set of mortising chisels and just make due with bench chisels they work for me and I am skeptical mortising chisels will do a better job. I do however see a reason to use the square cut ones.

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3909 days

#13 posted 11-04-2010 04:29 AM

Look like a good deal. I ordered mine.

-- Alan, Prince George

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3548 days

#14 posted 11-04-2010 01:34 PM

Deke, I have posted about them in the past but it has been a while, a number of other people have also posted about them on this and other sites. So often you hear people say something is the have to have tool, and then you get it and it works okay, but just okay. I am no expert in mortising chisels, but I have owned a Japanese one, a huge Sorby ( not the registered or sash – the real mortise chisel which costs close to $50 IIRC). I read the raves on the Ashley Isles, bought it , and was hooked. I bought it from Joel based on this “If you order something and are dissatisfied with it for any reason you can return it for a refund for up to one year after your purchase. If you live in the domestic US please call or email us and we will send you a pre-paid return label with instructions on how to proceed with the return. ” though to be honest , if I don’t return something in a week or two, I wouldn’t feel right using it for a month or more and returning it. But anyway, since it was essentially risk free, and it had gotten unbelievable reviews, I bought one. If you want to chop mortises with no predrilling, this is the way to go – though I will concede there is some personal taste to it, since the handle is completely unlike any normal chisel handle. I have never tried antique pig sticker mortising chisels, and they may work as well ( though not made of D2 steel) and may be a lower price entry. BTW, no affiliation with Ray Isles or Joel other than from time to time I send TWW money and they send me tools.

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