Chisels have existed for millennia; they are extremely useful for shaving off unwanted wood, carving out specific wood joints, and even creating your own bespoke designs. However, you shouldn't try to run before you can walk – accept the fact that you're a complete novice or a burgeoning skilled craftsperson and plan accordingly. A novice might be best served by a rudimentary set of 4 chisels with plastic handles, whereas a more experienced craftsperson will feel unnecessarily restricted and might want a more expensive set with a hardwood handle.

You also need to know in advance why you want a new set of chisels. Bench chisels are good for a wide range of tasks, whereas paring chisels are more for finer crafting, perhaps even whittling and creating little objects of beauty. Mortise chisels are more heavy-duty, which is fine if you're doing some serious construction project.

The Best Chisel

1. GREBSTK Professional Wood Chisel Tool Set

product-image

GREBSTK Professional Wood Chisels are some of the best chisels on the market; perfect for gift delivery or storage. The packaging is such that it prevents the chisels from rubbing against and damaging each other. The range is as follows: 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, 1 inch. The high quality zipped bag enables you to carry them around, for your convenience, while the slight oiling on each blade guards them against rust. Every individual blade has an edge guard made from black plastic; this pleasingly prevents the metal tips from becoming chipped or scuffed. The handles are composed of beautiful beech wood – they actually become tighter due to a hoop designed from stainless steel, giving you a wonderfully strong grip.

They are also not too heavy and have industry standard sharpness of blade; in fact, the specific material is that of chrome vanadium steel(Cr-V), which is a superior grade of metal and is therefore rush resistant and ultra durable. These blades are ideal for trimming down wood and are user-friendly in the hands of an amateur or professional. They will even be a useful tool for a craftsman, wood artist or professional carpenter to have; they are long-lasting and won’t let you down.

2. VonHaus 8 pc Craftsman Woodworking Wood Chisel Set

product-image

This eminently useful VonHaus Chisel Set boasts chisels of 6 different sizes (1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, 1-1/4″, 1-1/2″), as well as a sharpening stone (120/200 grit) and honing guide. Its chrome vanadium steel alloy composition blades have the advantage of side bevels which are quite narrow, which happen to be heat-treated for maximum durability and long-lasting precision. Its handles are not just regular cylinder-shaped handles but fit snugly molded into your hand due to their aesthetically pleasing, ergonomic design. Their storage case comes in a sturdy yet light plastic which is blow molded in order to minimize the movement of your set of chisels once they’re in. These are suitable chisels for woodworking, whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional carpenter. They will allow you to complete all manner of woodworking tasks without having to be treated with kid gloves. Simply return to their highly robust plastic case when you’re done and take them out again when you need to accomplish something of high quality.

3. PSI Woodworking Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel Set

product-image

This is no ordinary set of chisels; PSI Woodworking Chisel Set is a set of hand tools that can help you to accomplish a range of tasks, including whittling pepper mills, fashioning bowls, and a whole host of other tasks that need a finer touch and picket design. The metal in each chisel is M2 High-Speed Steel that comes in 5-1/4-inch blades which last longer than carbon steel 6-to-1. Every one of the chisels is 16-1/4″ in length, and has a 6-1/4″ M2 High-Speed Steel blade, not to mention 10″ hardwood turned handles. The set comes with an impressive eight chisels – a 3/16-Inch Parting Tool, a 1-Inch Skew Chisel, a 5/8-Inch Spear Scraper, 5/8-Inch Skew Chisel, 5/8-Inch Round nose scraper, 7/8-Inch Roughing Gouge, 1/2-Inch Bowl Gouge, and a 3/4-Inch Spindle Gouge. Not only that, but it comes in a beautiful wooden display case, for your convenience, and each of the eight handles of these chisels is designed in stunningly turned 10-3/4-Inch hardwood. It is ideal for amateur pen turners and full-time woodturners alike.

4. Hurricane 4 Pieces Wood Chisel Set

product-image

The sharpness of this Hurricane set of Wood Chisels is highly impressive; largely thanks to the fact that they have been drop forged and are composed of chrome vanadium steel. You won’t be spending an age trying to sharpen and tune them up each and every time you need to complete a vital or even non-essential task. Each set comes with four chisels, measuring 1/4″,1/2”, 3/4”, 1”, respectively. The blades are bevel-edged to quite a narrow degree, which increases the efficiency of any sharpening or flattening you might care to do; it also makes these chisels able to work effectively on various types of hardwood, softwood, and even laminated wood. Each chisel fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and is strong enough to endure the pounding of a claw hammer or mallet. There are also protective caps included for each chisel, which could be invaluable if you live in a household with young children around.

5. REXBETI 10pc Premium Wood Chisel Set

product-image

This set includes some of the best wood chisels on the market. Its smart orange and black design include six wood chisels, two carpenter pencils, one sharpening stone, and a honing guide, which are housed in a robust case with molded indentations, ideal for carrying around from job to job or simply storing in the garden shed or garage. Each piece of chrome vanadium honed blade has beveled sides which will enable you to sharpen and flatten with unerring accuracy. The included sharpening stone helps you to further sharpen not just your chisels but also plane irons, at a 25 and 30-degree angle.

These excellent REXBETI Premium Wood chisels each have a specially designed rubberized grip which is helpful in terms of increasing your grip over the tool to the strongest degree. The ends of the chisel, opposite to the metal tip, are themselves metallic so help you hammer away at them in the confidence that they will not crumble or deteriorate. For further strengthening, the blades have been heat-treated and are composed of chrome vanadium steel alloy, which is very resilient; they also have enhanced edge retention, and there are protective caps provided for each tool to further minimize disintegration and decay. They will also guard against unnecessary accidents, perhaps involving children.

6. Bosch Scaling Chisel

product-image

This heavy-duty Bosch Scaling Chisel is ideal for wood lathes and woodturning. It is coated in carbide; at least the tip of it is and this is the bit that counts because it’s the bit that does the most important work; the cutting-edge, so to speak. The 16.2″ length of the tool is perfectly poised to get the best out of the chiseling process, while the carbide-tipped cutting part can just be rotated around, thus exposing a sharper area on the flip side; eventually to be replaced. Unlike many standard models, the handle is entirely covered with a rubberized substance which makes it extremely secure to grip. Your delivery will also come with a hex wrench which will easily be able to secure the tip to the main shaft and take it off again when desired.

7. IRWIN Marples Chisel Set for Woodworking

product-image

Of the many chisels available these days, IRWIN Marples Chisel Set is ideal for fine woodworking, owing to its ultra-robust high-carbon steel blades which are strengthened to 58-HRC so as to stay sharper longer. Its handles are comfortable, slimline, and ergonomically shaped to rest in your hand’s grip, allowing you to use it with a mallet if need be. Included are the following sized chisels: 1″, 5/8″, 1/2″, 3/8″, and 1/4″, together with a delightful wood carrying case. If fine woodwork and finishing touches are your goals then you won’t find a better set of chisels than the IRWIN Marples Chisel Set. They’ve been a world-beater for almost two-hundred years!

8. Lestino Mason Chisel With Hand Guard

product-image

Lestino Mason Chisels are some exceptionally strong mason chisels, which are made from heat-treated, premium carbon steel, rust-resistant, and able to be used when cutting through brick, cinder block, cement block, and even mortar. Measuring 12 inches and weighing 1.5 lb, its head width of 0.88 inches is able to take a real pounding. It helpfully has a circular shaped handguard incorporated into its top part, thus enabling you to bang away at it and not fear damaging your precious hand. The handle is also non-slip, rubberized in a molded design so you gain an even stronger grip. Customer service is very happy to field any concerns you may have, and it is advised you call them immediately, to that end.

9. BASECENT Wood Chisel Set

product-image

This BASECENT Wood Chisel Set will provide you with an excellent array of chopping power, and comes with four different sizes to be used as you wish – 1 inch, 3/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 1/4 inch. These are the four sizes that are most used when it comes to woodworking projects, so regardless of what stage you’re at you should be able to accomplish a wide range of woodwork tasks with them. The blades are composed of fine-grained chrome-vanadium steel and have an impressive strength of 59 HRC, which means it is a long-lasting and resilient tool, not too high or low on the HRC scale. These chisels will work equally well on harder wood like birch, elm, and oak, as well as softer wood like pine fir and spruce), as well as laminated wood. The bevel edges are very sharp and fine, so are able to be used for chopping and paring wood to perfection. The handles of these chisels are made from a deluxe hardwood (beech) and feel every bit as good as they look. When you grip the handle it tightens, thanks to its hoop made of stainless steel. The BASECENT will offer you a 100% refund if you are not completely satisfied with this product.

10. METAKOO 4PCS Wood Chisels

product-image

The mixture of TPR and PP material used to create these handles of METAKOO Wood Chisels has resulted in a very durable gripping substance that will be even more resilient and resistant to impact than wood. In fact, the heat treatment x 2 and polished finish has resulted in an ultra-strong chisel, able to chisel mortise and keep its shape. The bevel edge is sharp and precise enough to be of use whatever the wood; laminated, soft, or hard; the steel butts at the base of the handle is able to withstand a considerable amount of repetitive force from mallet or hammer. There are also protective plastic caps which are ideal if you have small children around so that sharp edges are not evident or dangerously reachable. It comes in four sizes; 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″, so a variety of tasks immediately become possible, the moment you receive your purchase.

11. EZARC Wood Chisel Tool Set

product-image

This EZARC Set of Chisels boasts an ultra-accurate bevel edge that has no need for constant sharpening but endures throughout the years. Its chrome vanadium steel composition has a strength of HRC60, and the blades are oild with a rust-resistant oil in order to safeguard it for years to come. There is a safety cap on each chisel so that they can be rendered completely safe when you’re not actually using them. It comes in a beautifully finished tri-partite wooden box, which enables you to keep all your tools neatly ordered and separated so that they’re ready to be used when you need them. It would make an excellent gift for somebody who enjoys doing DIY and woodwork.

Features To Consider With Chisels

Purpose

The humble chisel has been around for a very long time; the best wood chisels, bench chisels, or mortise chisels are highly sought after items. But what is the point of them? Well, it is a simple hand-held tool that is used primarily for cutting and carving, although can also be used for heavier, more industrial tasks involving mortar and stone. They will be an essential component of any toolkit worth its salt, and will typically be composed of high carbon steel, or even drop forged steel, vanadium, or chrome; they typically come as part of a chisel set. On the whole, they are invaluable when it comes to doing complex and fiddly woodwork, although more heavy-duty versions are well able to chop out larger triangles of wood in order to complete bigger tasks.

Curled shavings and chisels

Handle Material

In terms of comfort, a wooden chisel is best designed with a handle made of hardwood; quality wood such as boxwood, beech, or ash will stand the test of time and also won't get compromised under the heavy, consistent pounding of a mallet. Plastic handles might be less likely to disintegrate over time, but as long as you take the best possible care of your hardwood handle it should last a lifetime, and beyond.

If you want to go for a plastic handle, though, you would be best served by PVC (polyvinyl chloride) due to its ability to withstand strong impact from countless mallet blows, over many years. Woodworking isn't much fun if your ageing handle suddenly starts to get compromised. The best chisels will tend to have the best handles, so as to help you get the best experience, overall.

Some of the best wood chisels will also offer you a soft-grip experience, in which you get really get a grip of it and so manipulate your hand tools in new and exciting ways. With a blend of rubber and plastic, some socket chisel or wood chisel handles can actively help you to reduce the amount of hand fatigue and vibration you experience, thus being a great help to your state of mind, ie. it's just one less thing to worry about.

Every great paring chisel, bench chisel, and all great socket chisels will offer you extra strengthening in one form or another. A ferrule, made from brass or steel is a sort of metal loop which enwraps a part of the handle and significantly bolsters the resilience and durability of your chisel, overall. It is more common to see them on a tang chisel, in actuality. A ferrule aims to guard against your handle suddenly splitting, so if you're looking for a model and it has one, this could be a distinct advantage.

An end cap is another great idea because it protects the handle against possible fracturing by acting as a buffer between a mallet at your precious chisel. Typically made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or steel, it is worth having because of the number of powerful hits your wood chisel is going to absorb, over the years, as it engages in all sorts of carving and slicing, over a long period of time.

Blade Material

In terms of the work you're hoping to achieve with your chisel tools, the blade is everything; get a good quality blade and it could last a lifetime and provide much satisfaction; don't and it won't. The typical material for most wood chisel blades is 'carbon steel', a type of steel that is much stronger and more resilient than regular steel. With a carbon content of just 0.60-0.75% it will get virtually any job done

An alternative material for chisel blades is 'vanadium' steel. This is effectively an alloy of regular steel with vanadium; actually, vandaium is used in the production of a whole range of surgical tools, too, not to mention dies and taps; with an ere 1-5% proportion of vanadium, you can enjoy the benefits of this chemical element in order to engage in even more precision tasks than usual.

Size

Most starter sets of chisels will come in four sizes; 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", 1". However, it might not be enough for every task, so you might need to invest in a specific size of a chisel, or procure a larger number of tools in your one wooden carrying case. For example, a 1/4" might be too small, a 1/2" chisel too big, and so a 5/16" chisel will help you to get the job done, or maybe even a 3/8". Alternatively, you could stick with just four chisels but make them a 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, and 5/8″. It's a bit like the question 'How long is a piece of string?' The more useful question is, 'What are you going to be using it for, regularly?' Only you yourself know what kind of projects you're going to be regularly attempting; therefore, you will be able to target exactly what it is you most commonly need until you have the funds to get procure a fuller, more comprehensive set.

It is not just the width but the length which is also of paramount concern. A longer blade will enable you to exert more control; this can be handy when working with relatively flat, easy to reach surfaces, hence the long blades which paring chisels tend to have. However, a shorter length of the blade will allow you to access tighter corners and harder to reach angles, so having a set of chisels with varying length is just as useful as having widths at your disposal.

Accessories

With all your beautiful tools assembled, tools which you'll hopefully be able to hand on to your children or grandchildren, having a premium leather chisel roll is the final pièce de résistance that not only looks good and helps you to travel around with your tools but manages to protect each and every wood chisel, making sure each one remains in tip-top condition with no edges scuffing or scraping each other.

Another incredibly useful accessory is a magnetic tool holder; this will allow you to display all your lovely chisels in an open and upright posture, ready for use whenever you need them. This saves your drawer space, looks great, and is also very useful, ie. you won't have to dig into a bag or case but can simply see what you have at your disposal in a matter of seconds. It can also be a boon for safety-minded parents, in that a young child or toddler is extremely unlikely to be able to reach up that high and grab one. You could even install your magnetic tool holder higher up if this is something about which you wish to have peace of mind. Other tools can also be stored among your chisels.

Other accessories you might consider are general storage racks; not as stunning magnetic but cheaper and more readily available. You also don't need to worry about the magnetic power fading over time. A bench grinder can come in useful when it comes to sharpening your chisels' blades, while a helpful range of sandpaper can also be an old-school, more cost-effective way of doing likewise. A sharpening stone, either water stone, diamond stone or oil stone can come in handy, and can also be used to sharpen other knives and tools you might have in your overall arsenal.

Socket vs. Tang Handle

Chisels or rather a chisel blades are produced to be attached to handles in order for you to be able to use them satisfactorily. The two most common ways of attaching are commonly known as a 'tang' or a 'socket'; your tang chisel will tend to have a sharp metal tang which is secured actually in the handle of the chisel per se.

Socket chisel handles, on the other hand, are generally regarded as being more robust than tang chisel handles, because the blade actually comes up and over the base of the handle, so it can handle being hit consistently with a mallet. With a tang chisel handle, if hit too hard a number of times the handle can become split. Sometimes, though, this can be due to hammering away at a wood chisel with a heavy metal hammer. A more industrial-style chisel can take it, whereas a tang chisel handle is usually used for lighter, finer projects.

Types of Wood Chisels

  • Bench Chisels

Bench chisels are your multi-purpose work-horse chisels, which can be used for a wide variety of woodworking tasks – they are used for paring wood and even chopping it, being shaped with a registered, firmer, or bevel edge, as you wish. The bevel actually helps you get right into the nooks and crannies of various joints, whereas the straight-edged 'firmer' version can help carve out bigger swathes of robust wood. A wooden mallet should be used, not a metal hammer.

  • Mortise Chisels

This chisel, also spelled 'mortice', is customarily used for more heavy-duty chopping tasks, not finer, meticulous crafting or paring work. Within the category of 'mortise chisels,' there are various categories or names of mortise chisels, called “Sash” Mortise Chisels, “Pig Sticker” Mortise Chisels, and “Registered” Mortise Chisels. On the whole, they are useful in terms of furrowing out significant mortises in the strongest or hardwood, although smaller versions can be used, eg the 'sash' mentioned above – these are suitable for more intricate, smaller yet nevertheless stubborn hardwood.

  • Paring Chisels

Paring chisels are for more close, fine and intricate tasks, which require more slender steels and a lower angled blade so as to be able to pare difficult grain or end-grain wood. They are not suitable to be used in conjunction with a mallet, but should only be used with your hands. They are often used not just singly but together with a mortise or bench chisel; the more robust chisel can do the groundwork, plowing out a furrow; the paring chisel can get in and shape it up in the way you desire.

man using chisel

Chisel FAQ

Q: Which is the single best chisel size?

A:

This is not an easy question. Most wood chisel start-up sets will offer you a standard set of four width blades; 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", 1"; however, for a lot of smaller task a 3/8" is like gold-dust. It's a toss-up, really, between a 1/4" or a 3/8", as to which ones is the most useful most of the time. A 1" chisel is a bit too big for most tasks, and for more heavy-duty industrial tasks an altogether different size of blade and chisel is going to be needed.

Q: How to sharpen the blade of a wood chisel?

A:

If you don't want to get involved with high-powered machinery, then a simple, time-honored approach is to lay sandpaper upon a glass shelf, glass being an extremely flat surface that will help you to sharpen your chisel's blade most effectively. Sandpaper is relatively cheap, so go for premium quality, investing in 80-, 150- and 220-grit paper.

Your next task should be to stick the sandpaper to the glass, using some form of moderately strong adhesive spray. You can use lacquer thinner or a similar solvent to remove it, once you've finished. You can actually affix sandpaper onto both the top and bottom of the glass shelf; this will provide you with traction and stop it from sliding around.

You are then ready to move the back of the chisel on the 80 grit sandpaper in a diagonal direction; after a while stop and examine it – if there are only a few scratches left then you can move on the less coarse 150 grit, ending with the finer 220 grit paper. The idea is to eliminate all scratches and rough edges, using diagonal motions and gradually finer quality sandpaper.

For an ultra-sharp edge, consider using some form of buffing compound, such as Ryobi 'D'. Focusing only on the top edge of the blade, apply the buffing compound back and forth until a mirror effect is brought about. That should create as polished and precise an edge as is possible, aside from using machinery or a power-driven belt.