Woodworking Projects

Workshop Tip: Turn any chisel into a dovetail chisel

Shop Tips

A stationary belt sander easily removes flat areas so chisel will fit nicely into the corner of a dovetail socket.

A dovetail chisel has angled sides, letting it nestle nicely into the corner of a dovetail socket. Standard bench chisels have flat areas at the sides, called “lands,” which prevent them from working all the way into the corners, and can make obvious dents there. To turn a bench chisel into a dovetail chisel, many folks use a bench grinder, which requires a steady hand to produce a smooth, even result. A stationary belt sander makes the job a lot easier. Start by creating an angled bed as shown, using a piece of plywood. The angle of the bed should match or exceed your favored dovetail angle. Slide the chisel forward and back against the belt, with a light touch, and stop just as the angled side reaches the bottom of the chisel. You’ll love the results. For Japanese chisels, you can use a black-oxide coating or other patina solution to turn the freshly ground metal black.

sanding a chisel

—DEREK COHEN, Rossmoyne, Western Australia

Illustrations by Dan Thornton From Fine woodworking issue #299

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