Hand Tools

The best I can figure of these from actual use..

David Weaver
..is bevel down and riding the small rounded bevel to avoid the friction of the long bevel.

Anything is possible. I could be guessing wrong. I guess on the roundover (on the top side of the larger chisels - larger in cross section) being a feature of factory grind because of how neat it remains on the very longest low wear chisels.

Once it's redone and the bevel is chased back, it gets sloppy (as in, whoever tries to refresh things doesn't do a very good job, or in some cases, the roundover is removed and the bevel is shallow but perfectly flat). I had a small group of these (a harlequin set) used and none remained neat as these do, but none were uniformly as long as this set, either.

It sounds like there's an information vacuum. I can only comment what these are good for. Mortises 2 inches deep and 3" long or better, they separate themselves from anything else I've used. Shorter than that, and the roundover is not far in the material and the extra size doesn't do that well.

I doubt they were ever used with a drill pilot hole - I'd imagine they were used end to end bevel down with the bevel being ridden, and the roundover on the back makes them hang up less inside of the mortise and slip over the edge of a mortise easier. They are fast to use without any help and lever out nice long neat chips that aren't wedged off or broken.

I would like to find a catalog of older IH sorby and ward items from the early-mid to mid 1800s, but it sounds like the only chance of that is buying books about those makers (there is apparently a comprehensive book about all of the sorby makers), and that's too much outlay for what may be a potential guess at features in the books, too.

The millwork chisels that we have over here don't behave the same way in a mortise (their cross section is closer to square). I have no idea how those were intended to be used or who they were intended for.


I should not have argued about this as much last week, either. It's fruitless given the lack of much publicly available information. It creates an endless loop if the conclusion of likelihood isn't the same each way, and I didn't know what your experience with these chisels was until you mentioned you had one that was poorly maintained. If I had two sets, I would send a couple and you could mallet a few deep mortises with them. As long as the small bevel is ridden, the strength of them (staying aligned, working quickly, pulling the material out of the mortise in a long thick neat leaf, even when it's deep) is apparent.

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