Tuesday, September 11, 2007


One of these blogs I'll stop being such a darn fool and resist saying things like "Subject to not feeling the need to totally re-write of course..." in jest. Naturally the need to totally re-write came upon me. But in the same way sometimes you can wake up and see your way clear on a woodworking project, the same occurred here and it went with almost a swing. So now I can either a) relax until the next polite prod arrives. Or b) pre-empt the prod and start thinking of the next thing (which ought to be about rust if I'm a good little galoot). Wouldn't it be nice to think the latter will be the case? Yeah, when they're selling choc ices in the seventh circle of hell...

Now ironically, having braced the reader for the idea of this blog continuing along a tool-related rather than woodworking-steeped course, I find myself rather itching to make with some proper woodwork. Even unto seriously considering the saw till doors. Now don't get excited - many a slip twixt plough and groove - but there's definitely an inkling. It may be partially brought about by a rather nice series of pictures on making a moulded frame posted to the Italian woodworking forum Il Legno. Forgive the rather poor translation via this link but if your Italian's even slightly as non-existant as mine it might help. The planes themselves are interesting enough, but I find the hand planing of mouldings like this endlessly fascinating. One day I'll actually get round to trying it myself, I hope.

So anyway, the coach/carriagemaker's tools. At the least this should be an education for one of us - either you in that even decrepit-looking tools can be made lovely again. Or else for me when they can't... I'm trying to be systematic and take batch pics and then write down details of type, size, maker etc in the same order. I did the same with the Newlyn chest and hopefully when I eventually come to add to that page said organisation will save my bacon. Got to be a first time, huh? For some perverse reason I elected to start with the gouges and chisels. Why that should be when I find easily the greatest difficulty working out how to catagorize chisels especially, I know not. Put it down to a desire to get the worst over with early on.

Gouges (get away). A motley crew but the socking great socket gouges by Gilpin appeal to me. I think the wider carving gouge fourth from right is by Addis - just as I'd finally got rid of all my Addis carving tools. Sigh. The flat sweep of the I Sorby firmer second from right will make it a handy user if it cleans up okay.

Big chisels, oh and a bruzz at the top. One or two octagonal handles of the old fashioned variety been fitted to some of these tools, which is unusual. Lots of user-replaced handles altogether, and lots will need this user to replace them again as well unfortunately. Anyone got any ideas on the two at the bottom? One is totally bolsterless and the other has a groove round where the bolster should be and a, well, a sort of washer (loose) that's presumably supposed to register in it as a form of bolster. One's by Nurse and the other I & H Sorby and they seem to be deliberately made like that. I'm perplexed. Think there may be a registered chisel in there too - one in the next batch as well.

Yes, well, a very motley lot indeed. The one on the end is a mere 1/16" wide and hopefully can be persuaded back into line without busting... I'm never sure of these; are they narrow mortise chisels? Or deep bladed (for strength) firmers? I've always assumed the former but this darn example really doesn't strike me as up to even mortising into soft cheese.

Notice anything? Yep; bevel-edged chisels need not apply.


  1. I'm guessing that little 1/16" chisel is for mortising. I have a 1/16" I use for paring tiny dovetails, and it's thin, like a regular bench chisel.
    The 3/16" mortising chisel I have is identical in shape to one in your photo.

    Nice lot!

  2. I think the deep blades on old, narrow chisels are just for "perceived" strength and to demonstrate their quality. It tends to go with boxwood handles. But I've found the weakness in these tiny chisels is at the ferrule so the blade shape doesn't really help much. I can't imagine a true mortise that would be so narrow!


  3. Yes, you might be right. Ray Iles makes an English-Style Mortising Chisel set, but the smallest size is 3/16". Alf's 1/16" chisel doesn't appear to have quite the heft of the RI chisels:


    The only thing I can imagine you'd need a 1/16" mortising chisel for is if you're making miniature furniture.

  4. Nice collection of chisels there Alf, but you have just proved there is nothing new. I picked up three firmer chisels that needed re handling, I used some beech that was in stock. Ripped it to an octagon on the table saw thinking not seen any like that before and what do you post?


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