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What Is a Bevel Chisel?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A bevel chisel is a handheld woodworking tool used to cut away material from timber stock. This cutting action is achieved by pushing the chisel across the timber surface by hand or by tapping the chisel handle with a suitable mallet. A bevel chisel typically consists of a long, hardened steel blade with heavily beveled sides which allow the chisel to be used in tight spaces such as dovetail undercuts and mortise cut-outs. The blade features a tapered tang at its non-cutting end which is secured in a wooden or plastic handle. Bevel chisels are available in a range of blade sizes and cutting edge profiles to suit a selection of cutting requirements.

Woodworking chisels are bladed cutting tools used to remove material from timber in the hobby, furniture and cabinet making, general carpentry, and construction industries. Most chisels feature a handle made of wood or high impact plastic into which a tapered tang on the non-cutting end of the blade is inserted. The blade itself is typically long and rectangular with a beveled cutting edge across the narrow side opposite the tang. In the case of the bevel chisel, the long sides of the blade also feature strong bevel profiles, thereby making the blade resemble a gold ingot. Bevel chisels are either used to cut by pushing the chisel against the wood by hand or tapping the handle with a suitable hammer or mallet.

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Bevel chisels are typically used to cut out mortices or square cornered holes for door locks, hinges, or tenon joint pegs. The chisels are also suited for cutting out the profiles for dovetail joints; when cutting them, the full value and purpose of the shape of the bevel chisel blade becomes apparent. Dovetail joints consist of a series of trapezoid shaped “fingers” cut along the edges of two pieces of timber. When they are mated with the protrusions on one slotting into the cut-outs on the other, they make for an exceptionally strong and attractive corner joint. Bevel chisels are perfectly shaped for cutting out the wood in the undercut part of the profile.

They are also well suited to cutting clean, flat mortises in any tight space with the bevel giving a good clearance at the blade edge. The bevel chisel is available in a wide range of sizes and grades ranging from 1/8 inch to 2 inches wide and in hobby, artisan, or professional grades. It is also often available in sets featuring various blade widths and cutting profiles. The latter include standard flat faces and skewed profiles. The skewed edge bevel chisel features a cutting edge ground across the face of the chisel at an angle which allows for precision paring, detailing, and cleaning of difficult to access joints.

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