Hand Tools Archive

A technique for chopping to a baseline *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
Buddy Floyd stopped by for dinner and some woodworking chat. Buddy studied Period Furniture under Robert Emmett (Fine Woodworking #22 page 32). Buddy makes Period Furniture, does antique restoration, traditional barn construction, and contributes regularly to our local woodworking club. Buddy made a joke early on that reflects the state of Period Furniture now days. “You know what is the hardest part about making Period Furniture? (I thought carving) Finding someone to buy it!”

Buddy showed a different way to chop to a base line. I have been trying it and I like it.

Task: establish a crisp shoulder at a base line like for a tenon or dovetail. Problem to be avoided is bruising the baseline by the chisel being forced back into it during chopping.

To begin, I have previously been shown and practiced holding the chisel vertical in the scribe line, making a gentle tap and then removing a small chip to establish the initial shoulder. In addition to bruising, the risk is not getting the chisel seated accurately in the shallow scribe line.

PIC 2,3

Buddy is a carver and what he did looked like what I have seen carvers do with a chisel. Holding it more or less as illustrated (I don’t carve so this hand position is from memory, but about right) he raises a small chip with a gentle tap on the chisel. This operation establishes a crisp shoulder that is trivial to locate for the next step. The shoulder is robust enough to resist the chisel bruising even for a modest whack in the next step.


Now holding the chisel vertical against the shoulder, whack it to deepen the cut that begins the waste removal.

© 1998 - 2017 by Ellis Walentine. All rights reserved.
No parts of this web site may be reproduced in any form or by
any means without the written permission of the publisher.