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What Is a Power Chisel?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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A power chisel is an electrically or pneumatically driven tool designed for use with chisel tool bits. The tool is available in a wide selection of sizes and power ratings suitable for hobby to heavy industrial use. A large variety of chisel tools may be used in the power chisel including traditional flat and gouge profiles to heavy bullnose and scaling bits for industrial applications. The power chisel may be used in all applications where hand chiseling is common such as carpentry, wood, and stone carving and construction.

Chisels are percussive, cutting tools with a broad spectrum of hobby, domestic, and industrial applications. They are generally utilized for removing material, cutting, descaling, breaking concrete, removing grout or tiles, and cleaning flux from welding jobs. Handheld chisels are designed to be struck with a hammer to supply percussive force and, while effective, are slow and laborious to use. Power chisels fulfill the same function but are driven by an electric motor or compressed air which significantly increases the rate of work while decreasing operator effort considerably.

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The chisel bits used in a power chisel are secured in a chuck on the tool and feature cutting edges similar to their handheld counterparts. Most commonly used handheld chisel types are available as power chisel bits and include wood, masonry, and steel variants. These include U and V profile gouging, flat scaling, and cutting, and bullnose bit profiles. A full range of chisel sizes are also available and are often presented in general purpose or application-specific sets consisting of up to 12 chisels or more. Many power chisel models include a set of chisels as part of the package.

The power chisel percussive action is supplied by a reciprocating mechanism that moves the chisel backward and forward rapidly. Typical operating speeds may range from 3,000 to 12,000 BPM (blows per minute) with smaller models usually featuring higher speeds. Many models also include a speed adjustment that allows easy switching between different materials and chiseling styles. Most power chisels are ergonomically shaped for comfortable use and generally feature at least one removable handle allowing for two handed operation.

Most conventional hand chiseling operations can be carried out with a power chisel. These include wood and stone carving, furniture making, general carpentry, and cabinet making. Larger power chisels may be employed to remove tiles and grout and even break light concrete. They are also used to remove scale and welding flux from metal structures.

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