Saturday, August 29, 2015

Is It Possible to Make Your Own Chisels?

I intend to find out!

One of the guys on Instagram made a set of chisels from O1 tool steel very similar to the steel I used for my French style moulding planes.  I was thinking about making some chisels from this stuff, and went so far as to order some steel in 1/4" thickness for exactly this purpose.  The toolmaker on Instagram inspired me to go for it.

My plan is to make some firmer chisels, tanged with some kind of octagonal handles.  I thought that my J. Jowett chisels would be good ones to model.
I like these chisels, and hope mine turn out as nice.
The heaviest part of these chisels is near the handle, and the thickness tapers off to roughly half the thickness at the business end.  After looking at my other firmer chisels, I find that this shape is fairly standard.
I think I might have a problem.  This is my latest pile of Swedish chisels.
On my way out the door the other day, I couldn't be bothered to dig for my J. Jowett chisels, so I grabbed a rusty beater firmer chisel from the above pile on my bench.  It is a Jernbolaget, and needs some serious rehab, but has the right shape.

To grind the shape on the un-hardened tool steel, I made the decision that I needed some kind of belt grinder for major waste removal.  There happened to be a cheap Chinese belt sander at the local grocery store for 29.99 Euros.  Perfect, just in case this ruins the tool.  I don't really see myself needing this for woodworking.
Here is my setup on the balcony for using this as a belt grinder.  It came with the clamps and seems to be sturdy enough.
I found that this works relatively quickly with a 40 grit belt installed.  I use a wooden batten for stability and a little pressure, and move it back and forth from the tip of the chisel blank to the back of where I want the taper to stop.  This makes a nice taper of just about the shape I want.

It probably took 15 or 20 minutes on this 3/4" wide blank.  The chisel in the photo is the Jernbolaget that I used as a reference.

The steel blank is 18" long, plenty to make two chisels.  In fact, the bench chisel I am making uses only about 8" of the blank, so if this works, I should come away with a set of longer paring chisels as well.

My plan is to heat treat and finish this chisel to see if it works before I spend a bunch of labor on the whole set.  I think I may grind the longer side of this chisel blank too, before I cut it in half.  It seems to be easier to hold on the grinder that way.

One way or another, I will post on the finished project when I get it done.

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