The Great Chisel Experiment - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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The Great Chisel Experiment

I'm currently building the Paul Sellers bench stool project, which calls for 3/8" mortise and tenons.

Since I didn't have a 3/8", I thought this would be a good opportunity to try out a mortising chisel and compare it to the traditional bevel edge that I normally use. I bought a Narex chisel from Amazon for about $15.

First, a word about the Narex chisel. I've read a lot of good things about them, but I'm not impressed. The shaft of my chisel is slightly twisted, which makes chopping a good mortise impossible. I made a jig (see pic below) so that my mortises would all align perfectly, but it doesn't really matter with a twisted chisel. Very disappointed. Narex gets a thumbs down from me.

Second, this didn't sell me on buying a mortise chisel over bevel edge. I thought chopping a mortise would be easier/faster with this chisel - but it isn't. If anything, it's a bit slower. The sides of mortise aren't as clean, either.

After the fact, I found this old video of Paul comparing the two and he pretty much says the same thing:

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post #2 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 03:37 PM
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I don't think that all Narex chisels are made like the one that you have.
I bought a Narex 1/2" skew pair so good that I bought a second pair a week later.
Pair #2 was ground down to make other wood carving tools.
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 08:32 PM
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Hi Anthony...

I'm sorry you found a "twist" in your chisel...I think I would send it back for replacement if it where me...?

As to the mortise chiseling methods that Paul employs (and you tried?) it can't be faulted (obviously?!) because it works for him as he demonstrated very well in the video. I would offer a few observation and my perspectives of this work of creating mortise with chisel.

I do this kind of work, day in and day out, for a living for many days of each year. I would also offer about the same chronological history as Paul's yet I would offer the one I come from traditionally is covering more cultures and styles of woodworking than Paul practices...

I shared the above mainly to get you to "open up" and try many different methods to see which one works best for you both within the context of your personality and within your own body dynamic and how you work hand tools...

I also have to make a "psychological observation" of Paul's video. I have had others share the same observation with me as well. He uses more force, speed and strike effort with the Marple Paring chisel than he does the traditional Mortise chisel when comparing the two chisels in the video. As such, he has artificially created a "bias" and not an actual valid comparative. I have seen a user of mortise chisels before (in more than one style...be it "edge to edge"..."center to edges" {my style typically}...or "edges to center") go against Paul's method ...and they are way faster...period...by about 20% on average...

Of those attack styles too, there is also what which way you would like to place the bevel, and what weight hammer/mallet you wish to use for striking. Paul's chose is so bloody "dinky" I really don't know how he gets anything done...LOL Most of the folks I work with never use less than a 1lb carvers mallet for striking a chisel and my..."day to day" is a massive steel "Trow and Holden" 3lb carvers mallet. When you start wielding these types of professional production weight hammers/mallets and striking a chisel the chip size increases dramatically...!!!...as does the speed of chopping a mortise...

So, try some other methods, see what really works for you and maybe try to get a better chisel next time if this one didn't come straight...

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Last edited by Jay C. White Cloud; 03-23-2019 at 08:36 PM.
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 09:15 PM
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I noticed the same thing ...

There was a visible bias in favor of the bench chisel. The lighter chisel will work better with a lighter mallet and visea versa. The way of demonstrating this was clever, using the clear "window", I'll give him that however. If that is his preferred method, then that's his perogative. I would also suggest that a more narrow mortise would be accomplished with a narrow chisel and as you go up in width and depth as for Timberframing, so does the size and weight of the tools.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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For lack of a better term, I'm definitely a "Sellers Student." Just about everything I've learned has come from either him or Rob Cosman - from sharpening to tool choice to working methods. That said, I'm slowing learning to branch out and explore new things. Having a very limited skill set, it's difficult to stray too far out of my comfort zone.
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmishElectricCo View Post
For lack of a better term, I'm definitely a "Sellers Student." Just about everything I've learned has come from either him or Rob Cosman - from sharpening to tool choice to working methods. That said, I'm slowing learning to branch out and explore new things. Having a very limited skill set, it's difficult to stray too far out of my comfort zone.
Hi Anthony,

There is nothing wrong with finding a "fit" within styles and personalities that speak to your understanding and way of doing things. If Rob and Paul teach in a method and work in a style you can relate to, then that is a very positive thing.

As to your "limited skill set" and "comfort zone," I would suggest not to ever underestimate yourself. Further, it is only with when we leave a "comfort zone" that we grow as individuals, no matter the craft or discipline we are trying to learn. The more you can push past any one individual's style or better, cultural style, and into learning another, we can broaden our understanding. We then have a better footing of understanding not only ourselves, but why we ultimately like something, and in this...truly develop our own styles of work...
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Confucius (551 BCE): "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand..." "...Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance..." Socrates:ďI cannot teach anybody anything. I can only help them think..."
Stephen Covey:"Seek to understand, before seeking to be understood..."
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-24-2019, 03:01 AM
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Amish I went to Handymans Tips and this is what they had to say about the mortise chisel.
Mortise chisels

Mortise chisels are heavy chisels, thicker than they are wide, with giant forged bolsters and oval beech or oak handles to take pounding. However, you will find them very easy to handle and a joy to use. You will basically need just one mortise chisel ( 1/4″ or 3/8″ being the most common) and size all your mortises accordingly.

See bud, mortise chisels are very easy to handle and a joy to use. Handymans Tips said so!! Maybe you should try the Tin Cup method. Put all your change in your left pocket (promotes balance), grab largest BFH (promotes confidence), place carpenter pencil behind right ear (look the part be the part), study chisel as if searching for some thing most miss (promotes confident appearance), unpack $1000 mortise machine and continue with project.

Just picking at you a bit bud. Im sure you will get a handle on this pretty quick. This is one joint I havnt tried yet but plan to soon. Good Luck!!
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-24-2019, 04:53 AM
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Sounds like you just got a defect. It happens. Send it back and enjoy your new one.

"The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic." -H.L. Mencken
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-24-2019, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmishElectricCo View Post
For lack of a better term, I'm definitely a "Sellers Student." Just about everything I've learned has come from either him or Rob Cosman - from sharpening to tool choice to working methods. That said, I'm slowing learning to branch out and explore new things. Having a very limited skill set, it's difficult to stray too far out of my comfort zone.

Paul Sellers and Rob Cosman are excellent teachers who repeatedly show what they have been able to do and teach you how to do it.


They are real masters of the craft. If you study and learn a fraction of what they teach you'll be ahead of the pack.


Don't make the common mistake of jumping from one method to another on anyone's say so.



That's the great thing about Youtube. You can see what works from the masters and you can see the hipster/self-proclaimed authorities with bad information pretending to be masters.


You've good examples. Continue to watch them, study their methods, understand their reasoning. Then, as your skill set increases, you can decided what you want to try, new techniques, and what works for you.


It's like football. You have a coach. You listen to the coach. You do as the coach says. You don't listen to the recliner-chair "coaches" in the stands.


You're doing good and have a sound foundation started. Keep it up.


Steve
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Remember - You're not a "real" woodworker unless you do exactly as another woodworker says you must do to be a "real" woodworker. It's called "The True Woodworker Fallacy."
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-25-2019, 09:01 AM
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Interesting. 150 year history of the mortise chisel being used by experienced woodworkers to cut mortises is proven wrong by a brand new user with a defective chisel. Great work!
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post #11 of 13 Old 03-25-2019, 12:30 PM
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It's not that he's brand new, it's that the Amish don't have much experience with hand tools.
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post #12 of 13 Old 03-25-2019, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting. 150 year history of the mortise chisel being used by experienced woodworkers to cut mortises is proven wrong by a brand new user with a defective chisel. Great work!
Might want to work on your reading comprehension. Just sayin'.
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post #13 of 13 Old 03-25-2019, 11:17 PM
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Might want to work on your reading comprehension. Just sayin'.

Cheap scotch and reading comprehension don't go together.

Remember - You're not a "real" woodworker unless you do exactly as another woodworker says you must do to be a "real" woodworker. It's called "The True Woodworker Fallacy."
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