Chestnut

Dovetail Chisels

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Just received my 1/4” and 1/2” Veritas PM11 mortise chisels and I have a Blue Spruce 3/8” fishtail on the way.  The Veritas mortise chisels always seem to be on back order. They said the 3/8” mortise chisel will not be available until July!  Nut I usually buy 1 or 2 good quality hand tools at a time when the funds permit.  I have used lower cost chisels for many years and they have made me appreciate the quality in the higher end tools but it still comes down to 90% skill in sharpening and use.  The higher end chisels hold their edge much longer and feel more comfortable and balanced in my hands.

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How you remove the waste has a lot to do with what chisel you select. If you chop the waste out with a chisel, then that chisel has to have an edge that won't crumble under the impact force. Then follow up with a really sharp parring chisel with very small sides.

If you cut most of the waste with a jeweller's saw or coping saw, the the parring chisel is most important.

Years ago when we didn't have the selection of chisels we have now, I bought a set of Freud chisels. They we're the best I could afford. They sharpened up nicely, but when used to chop out the waste, the edges didn't last; then tended to crumble. I ended up getting a couple of good Japanese chisels and they worked better. 

Recently, I got part of a set of Lie-Neilsen chisels. I like the way they are ground. The steel feels like it will hold up better. I am looking forward to my next project with dovetailed drawers. Time will tell. I am going to get an fishtailed chisel for those pesky blind pin corners too. 

Collecting tools is fun!

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Chestnut,

I am going through the same thing you are, trying to decide which direction to go.  I ordered one Japanese Chisel and I am going to look at the LN chisels at their open house in a few weeks.  

I have a great set of chisels (Barr Cabinet Chisels) they were all gifted to me over a few years, the problem is when I chop and pair dovetails with them, they are very thick and bulky for such at times is a very delicate and precise task.  I too want to get better at this, so I opted to try the Japanese first.  I see Chris Becksvoort and others use the LN chisels, so I will give them a look and try as well.  

Happy Shopping!

John

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20 minutes ago, Belle City WW said:

Chestnut,

I am going through the same thing you are, trying to decide which direction to go.  I ordered one Japanese Chisel and I am going to look at the LN chisels at their open house in a few weeks.  

I have a great set of chisels (Barr Cabinet Chisels) they were all gifted to me over a few years, the problem is when I chop and pair dovetails with them, they are very thick and bulky for such at times is a very delicate and precise task.  I too want to get better at this, so I opted to try the Japanese first.  I see Chris Becksvoort and others use the LN chisels, so I will give them a look and try as well.  

Happy Shopping!

John

Let me know what you figure out. I broached this subject far before i intended to make my purchase so i still haven't bought anything. Summer is busy at work and outside for me so woodworking gets set aside for a couple months.

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Chestnut,

I have been using a small variety of chisels from my mix matched set - LN, Stanley, Narex, Irwin - I have found that how the chisel feels in your hand is very important  (it would be a deciding factor for me) and each of us is different.  If you have not tried one of the chisels that I listed you are welcome to come over and play with mine. Also if you have any others that I don't list I would like to try them.  Shoot to me a message if interested.

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10 hours ago, Ronn W said:

Chestnut,

I have been using a small variety of chisels from my mix matched set - LN, Stanley, Narex, Irwin - I have found that how the chisel feels in your hand is very important  (it would be a deciding factor for me) and each of us is different.  If you have not tried one of the chisels that I listed you are welcome to come over and play with mine. Also if you have any others that I don't list I would like to try them.  Shoot to me a message if interested.

LOL i have a mixed set of stanley narex and Irwin. I got to play with the LN at their st cloud event a while back and they felt similar but very different to the stanlet chisels.

If i ever get anything new i'll let you know so you can give it a try.

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2 hours ago, Chestnut said:

...If i ever get anything new i'll let you know so you can give it a try.

We could have a Mpls chisel meetup LOL. I have Rob Cosman, LN, Ashley Iles, a few Narex mortise chisels, and my first ones which were Marples.

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On 4/18/2018 at 9:27 AM, derekcohen said:

 

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Derek, How do you manage to cut and remove that tiny sliver for the pin between the tails? I see this sort of dovetail and it appears to be almost thinner than a dovetail saw at the narrow end. I can understand the first saw cut, of course, but the second cut, doesn't that start right on the corner left by the first cut? I hope that makes sense, but its something that has frustrated me whenever I try to get those really narrow pins. Is it just a matter of biting the bullet and keeping at it?

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I bought this set of Japanese chisels from Grizzly:  http://www.grizzly.com/products/Japanese-Chisels-10-pc-Set/G7102 because I wanted to try Japanese chisels.  I have no idea what the steel is, Grizzly says they are high carbon steel with a Rockwell hardness of 63.  I have had them for a couple of years, and for me they are comfortable to use, they were a little tough get sharp on their first sharpening.  But they do hold an edge.   I have no idea how they would be for dovetails, the arthritis in my right hand is severe enough that I can't hold a saw long enough to cut a dovetail.  But for the stuff I use chisels for these do ok.  Of course for fathers day one of my sons gave me a Stanley Sweetheart #50 Everlasting 1/2" chisel, and I immediately fell in love.  I have never held a chisel that was so comfortable to use, I have been scrounging all of the local pawn shops trying to find more.  No luck.  

If you haven't already gone to @derekcohen web site do it as soon as you can.  I have been "borrowing" stuff from there for a couple of years.  My search for a decent marking knife ended there.  Followed his tutorial, for a marking knife, had so much fun I made 5 or 6.  Thanks Derek!   http://www.inthewoodshop.com/index.html

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I agree with what Robby W said - it depends on how you remove the waste. If you use a scroll saw to remove the bulk, cleanup is with either a paring chisel or a decent Japanese true dovetail chisel would be the way I'd go. By true I mean they have a triangular cross section. The advantage of the Japanese dovetail chisel is that you would not have to switch back and forth to chop/pare. 

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Chisels ...

When making skinny ("London style") dovetails, the chisels that are used to remove the tail waste ideally should fit the tails at the baseline, and have a minimal (sharp) land to avoid bruising the faces. I use 1/8", 3/16" and 1/4". 

The pins (of half blind sockets) are generally wide and one needs a 1/2", 3/4" and sometimes a 1" chisel. These can be firmers, if you prefer, although I choose minimal lands anyway. It is also very helpful to have a fishtail chisel to clear out the corners of the sockets. I like the Blue Spruce make for this.

If chopping hard woods, I use Koyamaichi dovetail chisels. Otherwise I like the Veritas PM-V11, for combined paring and chopping, or the Blue Spruce dovetail chisels for just paring.

Regards from Perth

Derek

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On 6/27/2018 at 4:04 PM, Chestnut said:

Let me know what you figure out. I broached this subject far before i intended to make my purchase so i still haven't bought anything. Summer is busy at work and outside for me so woodworking gets set aside for a couple months.

Chestnut,

Well, I received my first ever Japanese Chisel today.  This is what I have been looking for, it is light, takes a wicked mean edge, and it finds the baseline with relative ease, they are also a joy to pair with.  They are not cheap for the good ones, but now I see what all the fuss was about.

I will add pics of the sharpening system I use, and the Barr Chisel of the same size for comparison;

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Hope that helps,

John

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On 6/29/2018 at 7:38 AM, derekcohen said:

If chopping hard woods, I use Koyamaichi dovetail chisels. Otherwise I like the Veritas PM-V11, for combined paring and chopping, or the Blue Spruce dovetail chisels for just paring.

Thanks for your suggestion on chisels. Using the small Christmas gift my company gave me I put an order in at tools from japan. I read on his web store that things are changing over there and am hoping to be able to get a few in case they aren't available any longer in the future.

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On 4/17/2018 at 2:31 PM, Chestnut said:

I put this in advanced WW because i want a more advanced discussion. I'm strongly wanting to get better at hand cut dovetails. I've been trying it here and there (haven't been posting) and am so-so but i always feel like fat guy in a little coat when it comes to chisels and hitting the corners of dovetails. So I'm thinking about buying a couple dovetail chisels to start with and maybe add a couple more down the road.

I have the 4 set of Stanley 750s and they will probably stay as my go to for most operations but wouldn't turn down a chisel that is flexible and i could use in multiple places.

So this goes out to those of you that hand cut dovetails. What do you think is the better route to go down.

The options i know of:
Veritas PMV-11
Blue Spruce Dovetail
Ashley Iles Roundback
Japanese DT
Skew Chisels
Fishtail Chisels

Some of the options that i know of are pretty strait forward (top 3). I'm not to sure on the PMV-11 Chisels if the edges are sharp enough to work as DT chisels. They show them on their website as being suited for it. Should a conversation about the different metals be had, A2, O1, PMV-11, what ever Jappanese is?

What I'm unsure of is what the other options vs the known options. I understand that the Japanese chisels can range from ok to HOLY #(@$ on the cost scale. Skew chisels don't really seem like the solve the problem but create a sharpening problem. Fishtail chisels on the other hand seem perfect for DTs but still seem a bit more tricky to sharpen.

Also what options am i missing and not considering?

I just received my 1/4” and 1/2” Blue Spruce dovetail chisels. It took 4 weeks but it was worth the wait. They are almost to pretty to hit with a mallet. I’ll post a review with pics in the product review topic but I’m curious on what chisels you decided to go with.

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3 hours ago, Steve B Anderson said:

I just received my 1/4” and 1/2” Blue Spruce dovetail chisels. It took 4 weeks but it was worth the wait. They are almost to pretty to hit with a mallet. I’ll post a review with pics in the product review topic but I’m curious on what chisels you decided to go with.

I have Rob Cosman bench chisels, Ashly isles pairing chisels, and a couple Lie Nielsen specialty chisels. I do have some Blue Spruce marking tools the quality is amazing and they are beautiful to look at as well I think you will love them

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