Woodturning tools

What is the difference between wood chisels and other chisels?

Unlike chisels and sculpting chisels, for example, wood turning chisels are no longer made in carbon steel, but almost exclusively in HSS steel. Just like carbon steel, HSS steel contains carbon, but also various metalloids, so that certain properties such as elasticity, hardness, and temperature resistance are greatly improved.

HSS wood turning chisels are much harder, so they need to be sharpened less often and therefore last much longer. The service life of an HSS chisel is approximately six times as long as that of a carbon steel chisel, and thanks to its high temperature resistance, the risk of burning the chisel during "dry" grinding is greatly reduced.

The quality of the wood chisel depends on its production process.

By far most HSS wood turning chisels are made in SHEFFIELD, England: ROBERT SORBY, HAMLET, RECORD, CROWN, HENRY TAYLOR, etc. In principle, all these manufacturers use the same basic material, namely the famous M2 HSS steel, but the final result, in terms of quality, is determined by the way that base material is processed during the manufacture of the chisel.

The forging and hardening of HSS steel can indeed be done in different ways, one way being much more labour-intensive than the other. That also explains the relatively large price difference between the different brands.

Which wood chisel is the best?

A few manufacturers produce a limited number of basic chisels with an even longer tool life. ROBERT SORBY, for example, makes the famous “Gold” series, which are chisels in M2 steel but with a titanium-nitride coating, and HAMLET makes a number of chisels in ASP 2030 and in ASP 2060 steel (cobalt steel) with a service life of three to four times longer than HSS steel. Furthermore, there are also ‘cryogenic’ chisels. Cryogenic treatment changes the molecular structure of the steel and vastly improves its edge retention ability.

Two types of wood chisels: Cutting chisels and scrapers.

There are two categories of woodturning chisels: the cutting chisels and the scrapers. Cutting chisels always have a sharp cutting angle, and therefore a long fold. The cutting angle can vary, depending on the type of chisel, between 25 ° and 45 °. Cutting chisels are designers.

Scrapers, on the other hand, are used almost exclusively for the finishing of end-timber. They have a relatively blunt cutting angle (around 80 °). Scraping is often an intermediate step between shaping (with a gouge) and sanding.

The scrapers family also includes chisels with orientable cutting plates. These chisels are used in places that are difficult to reach (or difficult to see), where the use of cutting chisels is no longer possible or dangerous.


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