Bob Vila Radio: Woodworking Chisels

If you are thinking about taking up woodworking, you'll need a few basic tools to get started. Chisels are the foundation of any woodworker's toolbox, so here are a few tips to choose and use these vital tools.

No woodworker’s toolbox is complete without a set of chisels. If you’re just getting started on do-it-yourself woodworking, here’s what you need to know about choosing and using chisels.


Listen to BOB VILA ON WOODWORKING CHISELS or read the text below:

woodworking chisels


First, beginning woodworkers can start with a simple set of three or four chisels. Be sure to look for woodworking chisels, not masonry chisels or other types. The three-quarter-inch size is the workhorse for most projects, but quarter-inch, half-inch, and one-inch widths also come in handy. You’ll be using them for leveling surfaces and cleaning up the edges of your work when you cut a mortise for a lockset or hinge or similar jobs, so you want them to stay super sharp. Store them in a cloth roll or even in an old sock to keep them from getting dinged in your tool box.

Chisels don’t take much maintenance — just be sure they’re clean when you put them away after use. Once in a while, you can spray them lightly with a little oil to be sure they don’t get rusty. The most important thing you can do is to use them correctly. Don’t use a chisel to scrape globs of glue off a work surface or for other utility jobs. That’s a great way to dull the chisel and make it less useful when you need it later.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.