An essential hand tool for both framing and finish carpentry work on the building site & home workshop. When they are kept clean, dry, sharp and well looked after any decent set will go on to last a lifetime whilst helping achieve a much cleaner, more precise finish too.
A set like the blue drapers above will do fine for most site carpenters and is a good quality set for any DiY/hobbyist carpenter, they're really cheap but good solid tools that are rated 5/5 on Amazon.
Leave them bevel side down to keep the sharp edge off the floor/work bench etc. whenever you put them down.
Also, wherever possible I avoid getting them wet. Sometimes I'm working outside in the rain and it's unavoidable, in that instance take a minute at the end of the day to dry them off so they don't go rusty.
I have a protective suede roll like the one pictured above to keep them in instead of the box. I bought a second one to keep my auger and flat wood drills bits protected too, both from Amazon.co.uk. Tools and drill bits aren't cheap and take a while to sharpen so it's worth spending a few quid if you can afford it to keep them in good condition.
It's not only important for a good finish but having a razor sharp edge that cuts easily through the timber is also the safest way to work. Accidents are far more likely to occur when using excess force to push a blunt tool through the work-piece than using a sharp tool in a controlled motion. Click here to go to a page with instructions for sharpening chisels and plane irons.
There are a couple of different methods available for sharpening. The old fashioned way is to use oil and an oil stone. The tool, held at the correct angle is moved backward and forward on an oiled stone and in a circular motion in order to grind a sharp edge onto the tools. This method is both difficult and time consuming and is also very easy to get wrong. Once a mistake is made, the chisels will need to be ground back to the correct bevel angle before honing can be reattempted. Honing guides are available that keep the blade held at the correct angle and theres a Stanley chisel sharpening kit available that includes everything you need to get started.
The problem with oil stones though is that they eventually wear down unevenly and end up losing their flat shape. If you don't regularly flatten them then eventually your tools will end up with curved cutting edges on them.
Diamond Sharpening stones solve this problem and also cut much quicker than oilstones. They are available in different grades (fine,medium and coarse)and are used with water to lubricate them as opposed to oil, so are much cleaner. And where as you can run out of oil on occasions, water is generally much easier to come by on site!
A good quality (medium) diamond stone and a honing guide are fine tools to use if you are on a budget.
Click here to read about the great new trend sharpening tool I've just bought that makes sharpening ten times quicker and easier!
Have a comment or question to ask about using or looking after woodworking chisels?
Have a comment or question to ask about carpentry chisels?