In Shop Blog, Woodworking Videos

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I’m not a hand tool guy. There, I’ve said it. If I can find a way to use a power tool, I will. That said, I, like most woodworkers, do use hand tools on a regular basis. My experience has been that most woodworkers who have an aversion to hand tools (like me) weren’t taught the proper use and care of hand tools when they first encountered them. And that’s too bad, because there are a lot of benefits to hand tools…when prepared and used correctly. That’s what Christopher Schwarz’ Hand Tool Basics series on ShopClass On Demand is all about. Teaching the benefits of hand tools, and how they can complement and blend with power tools.

One of the hand tools that all woodworkers need are chisels. In the recently posted Chisel Basics segment, Chris cuts through what I have always considered to be “too much” information about chisels that have been offered in many places. I want to use the tool, not prepare if for the chisel Olympics. Chris’ information gives you what you need and sends you on your way. He starts by quickly looking at the variety of chisel styles and tells you what he feels you really need, and what to look for in a decent chisel.

He follows up the “which” with the how. In particular how to quickly and efficiently sharpen a chisel. No fussy stuff here, just a quick tutorial in putting a decent edge on the tool — and yes, sharpening jigs are acceptable!


Once your chisel is ready to work, Chris walks you through tips for paring and chopping with a chisel. These tips also include making sure the tool is used correctly and safely. And because Chris is talking about chopping, he take a few minutes to talk about choosing the correct mallet for your work. Dead blows (or as Chris calls them, “clown hammers”) are not recommended.

That’s a lot of information to pack into just shy of a half-hour of video, but all the info is there and presented in a way to make it palatable even for those of use who tend to reach for tools with a tail. Thanks, Chris!

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  • Dazzzle

    I think that my subscription to ShopClass was one of the best £16 I’ve spent, Chris’ chapters on saws and chisels were worth the sub on their own.

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