Hand Tools Archive

you're in the weeds. here's why...
Response To:
practical chiseling *PIC* ()

David Weaver
maple doesn't mallet as easily as ash. Ash and beech are not far from maple in hardness, but maple is more resistant to chiseling and planing and the quality of wood is far different.

If your dovetails are 1/2 of an inch deep or square...let's assume the chopping might be a fifth of a cubic inch of wood. You would be doing about 1/5th of the amount of wood volume that I chopped in a wood that's much easier to chop. (1/2 inch cubed would be 1/8th of a cubic inch, i'll bump that up a little bit, but it looks like less than a fifth of a cubic inch in your dovetails).

If that's still puzzling, find yourself a piece of maple around 7/8ths thick, rip it to 1 3/8" wide and then chop an inch of length off of it in leaves about 1/10th to 1/12th thick.

If I give you a fifth of a cubic inch in ash, and no other variables mattered (penetration in wider wood will be more difficult than narrower), you'd have around 80 strikes to remove the same volume of wood as I malleted off. But your volume is probably a little bit less than that and I'm limited to a motion with the mallet that's repeatable (rotating the wrist instead of taking a full whack). Subjectively, I can do this swiftly enough with the verawood mallet that it's reasonable. In fact, it appears to be in line with how hard you're hitting your chisel on average. I would normally mallet the wood a little bit harder, but not too much harder as i'm not looking to knock the edge off of the chisel.

In short, this test is directly applicable to what you're doing. I chose maple because it doesn't have much variance in it and it's not a contaminated (sands mineral bits, which I didn't find) or absurd (malleting verawood would've been less than representative for real work).

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