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Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


Making a Dovetailing Chisel

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I just apply a little heat at a time to the tool. You mustn’t rush it or you will go too far.

This is the color I want it to be. It is not necessary to remove the color from the tool, but I like to buff it off.

This little restoration of 2 junk chisels took about 2 hours to do. Now I have a pair of dovetail chisels that I didn’t have before.

Now for a pair of London pattern handles in apricot wood. I can’t wait!

Here’s how they look with apricot handles in the London pattern.

After I finished the two chisels in the above picture, Wiktor fell in love with them, so I gave them to him. I had a couple of Stanley #60 chisels, the ones with the yellow plastic handles, which had broken handles, so I decided to use those for donors for another pair of dovetail chisels.

I used a piece of brass pipe for the ferrule, and turned it so that it would have the same taper as the shank of the chisel.

This time I decided against going through the process of annealing, hardening, and tempering the chisels. I did the grinding with my 4 1/2” disc grinder. All that is necessary is to grind a little, then cool the steel with water from a spray bottle so as not to bring color to the steel.

While the resulting side bevels are not perfect in appearance, it doesn’t matter. They work just fine. They provide clearance, and that is all they do.

Here is the finished pair with London Pattern handles in locust wood.

Now I am searching for enough donor #60 chisels to make a full set of these chisels.

These chisels are not as pretty as some I have seen for sale online, but the price of mine is way better than $85 apiece. Cheap and effective, the Galoot way.

Jim Thompson
the Old Millrat in Riverside, CA
February, 2011

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