Hand Tools Archive

More on this edge buffing thing...

David Weaver
(These pictures can be zoomed in very close)

..other stuff is getting in the way of making the last door on the cabinet, so I've only cut 12 mortises on cabinet doors (about 1 1/4" deep, 2" wide each - cherry).

Instead of choosing a good chisel, I chose one of my softer chisels and rounded the very tip of the chisel over on the buffer. The bevel on this chisel is otherwise probably about 25 degrees. (this is one of the wood handled buck brothers chisels - they are softer than most vintage chisels - this is a newer chisel, not an old one - BB's older chisels are on the soft side, too).


It's not terribly sharp, but it's not damaged and can still be pushed through cherry end grain (this isn't after a refresh on the buffer, either, it's after 3 mortises). As part of the mortising, it probably saw the buffing wheel for about 5 seconds each time - 4 or 5 different times, something like once every 2-3 mortises. You can't see extreme particulars with the pictures, but what you can see is a lack of damage on a chisel that otherwise has a hard time avoiding damage, and without making the chisel resistive in the cut.


(it could be fully resharpened easily, as the buffer hasn't removed much metal at the tip, only rounded the very tip over a little bit and only on the bevel side).

I also started to mortise a plane body a couple of days ago (this also prevents finishing the fourth door :| and getting the cabinet wrapped up), and used a sorby chisel. These are the newer sorby chisels - their edge holding is on par with low priced hardware store foreign chisels. I have no idea why they're so soft.

But in 10 minutes of mortising, it hit the buffer twice - once at the start, and once when my shoulder was getting tired. The mallet used is a 28 ounce verawood mallet, so it's not getting polite treatment.


It's not a fresh edge, so it doesn't look like one, but you can still pare with it. I sat these chisels aside when I bought them because I like the proportions (actually, I got several handle styles, too, finding sets on sale and eventually sold all but the cheapest version) and figured if I just got fed up with them, I'll reharden them.

total sharpening time for these is less than 30 seconds should they need more than the buffer. It would be weeks of regular use before I'd regrind.


And a fourth chisel that I forgot to picture in use is a harbor freight chisel on the right (these are long chisels, kind of light weight - they were about $8 for 6 or something of the sort, and are on the soft side. They have had a much uglier set of chisels than this for years now - these are long gone, but are a copy of some continental european type). I've used the chisel pictured to trim all of the tenon shoulders to the mark and pare all of the miters. Not exactly demanding use, but paring the shoulders is easier with this chisel than it has been with other normal setup chisels of mine because the grind is at about 20 degrees and just the very tip is rounded over. No strange failures.

I've always liked playing with various different types of chisels, but at this point am considering that it may be time to sell most of them (the point of the HF set was never for woodworking, either, it was to have a set of chisels that can be used for stuff like bathroom renovation where grout and adhesive mixed together just destroy a chisel - the one in the picture was spared).

The crux of all of this? There's less cut resistance from any of these chisels than there is from a "good" chisel set up at 30 degrees.

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