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Getting Started with Mortise Chisels


Mortise chisels are specialized chisels for chopping out a mortise. They are designed to withstand heavy blows with a mallet, and can be used for cutting directly across the grain as well as for levering out waste material.


Chopping a mortise

How Should I Prepare a New Mortise Chisel?

All Veritas mortise chisels are lapped flat. Before the first use, polish the back of the blade, working your way up to the finest grit of your sharpening medium. It’s also good practice to polish the micro-bevel.

For a more comfortable grip, you can ease the side edges, except the first 1" from the cutting edge, with a fine stone as shown in the diagram below.


Image left: Polishing the chisel back. Image right: Honing a microbevel.


For a more comfortable grip, you can ease the side edges, except the first 1" from the cutting edge, with a fine stone.

What Safety Pointers Should I Pay Attention To?


To help prevent injury from a chisel cut, observe these basic rules:


  1. When the chisels are placed on the bench, keep them bevel side up.

  2. Hold the work in a vise or with a clamp.

How Should I Store My Mortise Chisels?


Chisel rolls provide a safe and economical means of storing your chisels together. For just a few chisels, plastic or wooden guards can be used. To keep rust at bay, wipe down the tool with a rust preventative or anti-corrosion oil after use.

Once your chisel is sharp, the next step is learning how to cut an accurate mortise (and practicing!).

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