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If I had to limit my toolbox to a single type of chisel, the firmer chisels would be my choice. These chisels come in blade widths ranging from a sixteenth to three inches, but for most purposes a set of four chisels of a quarter-inch, half-inch, three-quarter-inch, and one- inch widths will be quite adequate.
Heavy-duty firmer chisels, often with hooped handles (in which a metal reinforcement ring encircles the end of the handle) are called framing chisels. They are generally longer, sometimes with blades ten inches long and overall lengths of as much as twenty inches.
Paring Chisels. Paring chisels have thinner, lighter blades than firmer chisels, and tend to be longer than most firmer chisels (seven inches or so is usual). The handle is often of a different kind, too, because a paring chisel is not designed to be struck with a mallet. Rather, the paring chisel is used for finer work, shaving and paring the workpiece, powered solely by the muscles of the hand and arm.
So many paring chisels on the market today have beveled edges that maker and suppliers have begun to identify paring chisels as bevel-edge chisels. They are available in eighth-inch to two-inch widths.
Mortising Chisels. Used for cutting deep mortises, these chisels are designed for use with a mallet. Their blades are thicker to prevent bending when levering out waste.
Butt Chisels. The butt chisel is essentially a shorter version of the firmer chisel. It is designed for use in hard-to-reach or cramped applications.
Solid Steel Wood Chisels. These durable chisels will stand up to mallets and hammers alike. In fact, they are perfect for use at a work-site, as you can afford to be less concerned about their exposure to the elements and careful storage.
These probably aren't the best tools for precise work, but for construction purposes, they are handy and somewhat less expensive. They are sold in various sizes, typically in quarter-inch, half-inch, three-quarter-inch, and one-inch widths.
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