What Is a Butt Chisel?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2019
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Butt chisels are short chisels that are designed to rest easily in the ball of the hand. Generally, the blade on a butt chisel is relatively short and beveled along the edges. As with many different types of chisels, the butt chisel is designed primarily to use in cutting and paring tasks associated with carpentry projects.

The handle on this chisel is normally shaped somewhat like an elongated bulb. Typically, the handle is made of either hard wood or heavy-duty plastic. Part of the purpose for the rounded design is to make the handle of the ball chisel fit neatly into the ball of the hand comfortably, allowing the user to work with the chisel for long periods of time without a great deal of discomfort.

Using a butt chisel is common for tasks such as paring joints in window or door frames, corner moldings, and other similar jobs that require the ability to get into a small area of the carpentry project. Because of the way the chisel rests in the hand, it is relatively easy for the user to direct the beveled edges of the blade into position and achieve an accurate paring or cut along the joint. While using a butt chisel for this type of detail work can be time consuming, the end results are usually well worth the effort.


Another common application of the butt chisel is prying off trim on window facings, door frames, and floor or ceiling moldings. Because the beveled edge of the chisel blade can easily be maneuvered into position, the user can gradually lift sections of the trim along the length of the surface and remove them without breaking the trim in a series of small portions. This can come in handy when the idea is to use the trim in some other carpentry project, or possibly repaint or stain the trim and restore it to the original position.

The butt chisel is relatively lightweight in comparison to some other forms of chisels, which help to make the tool ideal for detail work. Many retail outlets will carry sets containing five or six chisels of varying sizes, making it easy to find one that is ideal for the task at hand.


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