Posts Tagged With: Hand Tool Exercises

Exercises in Wood-Working: Use of the Chisel Part 1

Yesterday I talked about the Ivin Sickels book on hand tool woodworking exercises.  Well, there is no place to begin better than the beginning.

I stopped by the local lumber yard this morning and picked up a scrap of Western Red Cedar.  Chris Schwarz recommends, in the video, getting a 2 x 4 from the local home center.  But the local Home Despot gives is too overwhelming, and I prefer to support local businesses.  Plus, the cedar smells really nice.

I cut off about 8″ from the 2 x 6 scrap I got, and ripped it into thirds.  I’m going to package one of these rough blanks with the book/DVD I got for my brother-in-law.

The first exercise is to make one face flat using the chisel.  The book recommends starting with the bevel down.  The drawings show the chisel held at about a 45 degree angle, with the bevel well off the face of the board.

I didn’t find that orientation particularly useful.  Having the bevel flat against the surface worked really nicely.  I had a lot of control and could shave off high spots without risk of splintering or spelching.

The face I was working was way off, it had a significant high spot in the back right corner, at least 1/8″ above the rest of the surface.  You can see daylight (well, fluorescent light) under the left side of the rule.

I marked the highest area with a red pen and attacked that first. I ended up having to pare away quite a bit of the face in order to get down to the low spots at the near edge of the board.

Here I’ve removed the worst of the lump and the reae 1/3 of the board is relatively smooth.  Everything so far was done with the beval down.  If the chisel started to lift too big a shaving it was simple to pivot it and keep from digging in.  It was hard to take a long shaving that way though.

At this point I decided to try using the chisel bevel up and paring away material from the rear area to bring it down to the level of the front.  It was too each to remove too much material that way and I ended up first with a small hump in the middle, then I had the surface flat, but too high all along the left edge.

I got it flat after a few more minutes.  It helped to check with a straightedge, pare away material in a small area to address a problem and check again.  I used the straightedge lengthwise, cross ways and diagonally.  I got a reasonable surface after maybe 10 minutes total.  The next step is to make an adjacent face flat and 90 degrees to the reference face I just created.  Later.  I need to make dinner now.


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