Hand Tools Archive

another file chisel...

David Weaver
Lots of distractions from making tools (lots of work cutting in sometimes on weekends, and kids get the remainder, and daughter's bed finally finished and in situ)

I hammered another chisel out of a file - this time one marked india, and I think I'm going to make a group of these now - like a set.

To review, from the last one (Steve V. has it), I was pleased with the way the steel behaves, but I butchered the bolster. This time, I used mild steel instead of high carbon and as last time, heated it after filing it close to size and then drove it down the tang.

I have some post heat treat clean-up to do on the aesthetics of this, but it's not ever going to be perfect, and the handle deserves more attention.

BUT, two things strike me when making these. The amount of spark that comes off of the files is incredible, almost like a small fire and you can get smoke and a flame at the point of the sparking if you use a fresh belt (even at the low speed of my belt sander). And the quality of the steel reminds me of japanese chisels. It's kind of its own thing, even if it's tempered back a little bit, it's not like O1 or anything modern.

Files seem to have a slightly coarse grain if you break them (not like trash steel, but I once read that files wear better with carbides left a bit large and not finely dispersed), so I heat them and hammer them into rough shape and then do most of the sizing after that with a vixen and a file.



In making the first two, I think I know what I need to know now to make them nicer. Having made a princely lot of 2 1/2 of these so far, and only bashing wood with two, one was "heller" brand and this one just said "india" at the tang, but the sparking was similar with both (extreme) so it seemed safe to spend a couple of hours making this one and risk the chance that it wouldn't harden well. They do harden well, in fact, very very well, and despite the two being different brands, the feel of the chisel/steel is almost identical. This one is ever so slightly softer than the one that I sent to steve, but with the whole unicorn thing, there's no great reason to be absurd. It's probably still at least 62, though. You can hammer until your shoulder is getting stiff and the edge shows nothing of degradation - still shaves hair easily.

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