Although most chisels are supplied with a sharp ground cutting edge, they should always be honed prior to use and for efficient, accurate and safe cutting, they should be kept well sharpened and honed. The traditional method is by use of oilstones, however, for even better performance, some prefer water stones. Handles should always be comfortable, easy to control and hard wearing.


Hand chisels have wood or plastic handles. In wood, ash or beech is the standard, with boxwood or rosewood the top of the range. Boxwood is the cabinet-makers' traditional favourite because of its cool and very smooth feel.

Polypropylene is an impact resistant moulded plastic with high gloss finish. C.A.B. (Cellulose Acetate Butyl) is the toughest of all, used on the split proof handles, which are the choice of the professional on tough construction work.

Carver Pattern describes a shape of handle which is smooth and round and is applicable to hand chisels as an indication of that particular pattern.


Hand chisels are supplied ground with the cutting edge at an angle of 25°, but as a general rule before use the edge should be sharpened or honed to an angle of 30° to give a form of second bevel. However, some craftsmen alter the honed edge according to the wood which is being worked, making the angle more oblique for harder woods.

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Additional information relating to

Cold Chisels

The cold chisel is a very good example of why it is important to know the pedigree of a tool (ie. Where is it made and by whom).

It may seem a simple crude piece of metal, as the quality features of the steel content, the heat treatment and the grinding cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, these features are essential for performance and safety.

One of the most frequent industrial accidents with hand tools is that caused by splintering of an incorrectly treated cold chisel or a chisel used with an incorrectly hardened hammer or the wrong hammer for the job.

 Always ensure that the correct size and type of hammer is used with the selected chisel. A useful guide is to use a hammer with an area of striking face twice that of the chisel head being struck.

 Always use safety glasses when using these tools.

 Always use a quality chisel.

 Always use the correct size chisel for the job.

Standard chisels are usually made from octagonal material whereas alloy chisels or alloy types are usually made from hexagonal material.

Alloy chisels are designed for cutting steel and are recommended for that purpose, but as a result of improved alloy ingredients, they can now be successfully used on building materials, where the special alloy steel will also provide improved performance.



The brick bolster (for cutting bricks) is much thicker than the electricians' bolster which is for cutting out switch boxes etc.
Cold chisel based, but with a very much wider cutting edge. They are manufactured to different specifications and should not be interchanged.

Channelling or Chasing Chisels

For cutting recesses for conduit.

Chisel bits

For cutting and chipping masonry or brickwork.

Cross Cut

For cutting key-ways and channels.

Diamond Point

For cleaning out corners of key-ways etc.

Dome Head

Describes the widened spread of the head of the chisel designed to avoid mushrooming.

Flat Chisel

For cutting and chipping.

Plugging Chisels

For removing mortar or cement from between bricks.

Round Nose or Half Round

For cutting rounded grooves.

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