Hand Tools

Re: I think it's a fractured bunch of stuff... *LINK* *PIC*

Warren in Lancaster, PA
Over the years I have posted maybe 20 pictures of mortise chisels that were published between 1667 and 1900. I could easily post more. All these pictures have two things in common: no rounding of the heel and no secondary bevel. In the 21st century a number of people have claimed that mortise chisels were used with a long primary bevel perhaps 20 degrees, a very short secondary bevel, and a rounded heel. They have offered no documentation, but David has found some mortise chisels which he believes are mint from the factory after 160 years or so, and do have the long bevel and round heel; I can't see them as well as he can.

Here is a mortise chisel profile from Andre Roubo, a third generation master woodworker, printed in 1769:

17th and early 18th century mortise chisels were thicker at the bevel and taper toward the bolster (They taper in width slightly also). You can see a hint of this taper in the engraving, but it is more noticeable in the full illustration. Later mortise chisels tapered in thickness the opposite way, thicker at the bolster.

As I mentioned sometime earlier, after 1830 there were mortising machines available, so there is some mystery about which trades continued to use mortise chisels and for what purposes.

Here is a link to a recent discussion David alludes to:

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