Practical Carriage Building

Compiled by M.T. Richardson, Vol.1. 1891

Wood Chisels

Wood Chisels come next in order. A full set of framing chisels consists of one dozen in all; the smallest, one-eighth inch, graded by eighths up to one inch, and then by quarters up to two inches. In purchasing these, test the faces carefully, as it is almost impossible to find a set in which the faces are not warped to a greater or less extent. It pays, when the face is warped, to have it trued.

Wood Chisel Handle Figure 10

Body makers are getting to use turned handles, probably because they are less troublesome to procure than the octagon handles. The latter are preferable, and I recommend that the body maker should put on the handles. It is a nice piece of work to put them on properly; but it pays. Select close, fine grained hickory; split out the blocks so as to insure straight grain; cut the longest handle six inches long, the shortest five, and grade all others between these two lengths. If a taper bit can be procured with the correct taper for the shank, bore a hole with a small twist bit and rim out with the taper. Drive the blocks on the shank to within one-eighth of an inch of the shoulders; then dress up. First strike a line through the center of the blade and block, as shown by A, Fig. 10; then measure off on line X the width required for the handle at that point, and strike lines B and C.

How to put a Handle on a Chisel Figure 11

Dress off to these lines at right angles with the face of the blade and strike a center line, as shown by A, Fig. 10. This line, as will be seen, begins at the cutting edge and intersects the middle of the shank at the shoulder. Extend the line up the handle, as shown; then draw lines B and C. Dress off to these lines. This will give a perfectly square handle. Remove the block, having first marked it so as to designate the face. Procure a thin piece of sole leather, punch a hole through it, dampen it and force it over the shank down to the shoulder. Fill the shank hole in the handle with water, allowing it to remain thereon five minutes. Then nick the corners of the shank, turning a few spurs upward, and drive on the handle. The leather will act as a cushion, to prevent rebounding, and the moisture in the hole will soften the wood so that the corners of the shank ill cut their way without splitting; the nicks will assist to keep the handle on, after being worn for a time. When the leather and wood are dry, finish the handles by removing the corners so as to make an octagon.

Round up the top to fullness of one-fourth of an inch. When the handles are completed, dip them in warm, raw linseed oil down to tile leather. Allow them to remain in the oil one night; then remove them and set them aside until the oil is absorbed. A second dipping will do no harm. After the oil has thoroughly gone into tile wood, burnish the entire surface with a bone or steel burnisher, and the handles are completed. A set made in this way will last as long as the chisels will. For mortising, every bodymaker should have at least half a dozen socket chisels. They are long and rigid and will not spring. Grind chisels with a long bevel and perfectly square cutting edges. Never grind on the face. It is impossible to make a perfectly true tenon or mortise with badly ground chisels.