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$10 Dovetail Chisel

Ode to a ham-fisted oaf

Tragedy hath befallen the Lunniss Furniture workshop. One of my beloved, and *expensive* (important later) Japanese chisels snapped.

Now I must iterate that this was entirely my fault. Japanese chisels – in fact, most Japanese edge tools – are two piece of steel laminated together. The top is a soft steel, and the back is a very hard and very thin layer that forms the cutting edge.

The soft steel makes it easy to create a razor sharp cutting edge freehand on waterstones. However, the hard layer is brittle. And I was getting impatient and wailing on a 6mm chisel with a 1kg lump hammer. Lesson learned.

I agonised over rushing out to buy a replacement, but there are two factors at play: I have on order a set of the finest chisels money can buy (watch this space), and Japanese chisels are not inexpensive. I am loathe to drop real money on a stopgap.

I tried restoring the chisel by breaking off the broken bit and grinding a new bevel, but I was left with the stubby end of the chisel which was too thick to fit into the narrow corners of a dovetail.

So I did something rash, and splashed out the princely sum of $10 on a Stanley POS* chisel.

After grinding the bevels so they’re narrow enough to clear the sides of a dovetail (with, I will admit, zero care) and honing at 25∘, fuck me dead if it isn’t the best cutting chisel I’ve ever used. I’m currently questioning everything I thought about life.

So I did the same to the 18mm chisel, with much more care that time around.

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