Old Chisels

Among the tools I’ve found around here are two old chisels. One 1″ marked “EAGLE BRAND WARRANTED” and one 1/2″ marked “OHIO TOOL CO.”

Chisels

I think you can see the pitting here on the backs (clicking on the pictures opens them up, giving you the option to zoom in closer). I’ve started to work on the 1″ already. Lots of work needed to make these usable. Probably much more work to do to make these usable than is worthwhile; but I get a lot of enjoyment out of trying to make finds like this work again.

ChiselBacks

In hopes of having some progress to show for this blog post, I’ve shifted my work to the 1/2″ chisel. After working on my coarse oilstone and on sandpaper with very little progress, I’ve resorted to more aggressive measures, and have taken a mill file to it. Even doing this I’m still finding it difficult to get the pits out.

MillFileWork

It did result in me being able to get better purchase on my stones and sandpaper, allowing me to get the tip of the back polished enough that I think I can successfully sharpen the chisel now. I’ve been sharpening my chisels to a bevel of 27 degrees or so, but today I don’t have access to a bench grinder, and will be doing this all by hand. Life’s just too short – going to *try* to have the patience to get to 30 degrees on this one.

TipOfBackPolished

Spent a lot of time cussing my side clamp honing guide as it failed to keep this crooked blade square, but the 1/2″ chisel is now sharp enough to work with. Don’t know yet how I’m going to deal with the handle on this one. After the old handle broke, someone just kept banging away at it. Step one will be trying to remove the wood that’s still in the socket. Step two will be figuring out what to do about the mushroomed metal where a new handle needs to fit. I suppose I could take a hacksaw and remove the ruined part of the socket, and go from there. Or I could continue to use it like the previous user did, and just bang away at the metal.

Otherwise, anytime I’m bored, I’ve got lots of work ahead trying to grind away at the pits that are still on the back.

ChiselSharp

The 1″ chisel looks to have fewer issues (just so much more metal to remove). For now though, giving my hands and arms a rest.

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5 Responses to Old Chisels

  1. Is there any useable steel in that ½” chisel – by the state of the socket, it looks like it has been used to sculpt granite. How are you going to fix the socket? Also – what’s the reason for using a file to flatten the back?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wesley Beal says:

      So far there seems to be enough steel that it will pare some Ash I have here at my desk with me. Will have to use the chisel some to know if the steel that’s left is sufficient for it to keep working.

      I took a file to parts of the back to see if it would speed up the process of removing all the pitting that was in it. I could feel raised areas of metal coming off while doing it. When I got back to my oil stone it polished up much more easily.

      I don’t know what I’m going to do yet about that socket. I’ll try to see how well I can repair it. If I can’t, I may just continue what the previous user did, and smack away at it as is.

      This chisel certainly saw rough use. Don’t know yet if it will be a tool I ever *want* to turn to in the future. Working on it I knew I wouldn’t be damaging it more than it already was, and I like the challenge of trying to get it to work again.

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    • Wesley Beal says:

      Actually, I’ll update my answer to why I used a file.

      I did it to see what would happen. Knowing that this tool could really be considered trash, it was an opportunity to experiment with something much more radical than I’d want to try on a better tool.

      The file did remove material more easily than my oil stones or sandpaper did, at least at first.

      I realized I answered that question previously, speaking as if I knew what the heck I was talking about. I didn’t. Had an ugly chisel. I wanted to try to see if I could clean it up. The file was sitting right there, so I gave it a shot to see what would happen.

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  2. I’ve restored and used chisels that looked as bad as that one. Most of those were ruined by a carpenter using a clawhammer to drive the wooden handle instead of a proper wooden mallet. The socket is recoverable, just ream it out with an old ¼” twist drill. You can grind back the outside mushroom on the bench grinder and use a chainsaw file to remove the burr on the inside, losing less metal than if you cut off with a hacksaw. If the chisel has proper temper, you will merely ruin a good file; if not you’re wasting time anyway. Does Masse Hardware still have that awesome cabinet full of files?
    Most old 1″ framers are really swaybacked, whether from careless sharpening or deliberate, I dunno. All you really need is about 1½ – 2″ flat behind the edge to be usable. Some good laminated chisels have been ruined trying to grind the back absolutely flat. (I have a pet theory that a certain amount of oxidation increases the hardness of steel…)
    To work pits out of the back, use a bench grinder freehand, tracking the blade along the wheel, not across, then crosswise on 180 grit silicon carbide paper on a flat surface. The honing guide: step outside and throw it as far as you can; all you are trying to do is reference flat against flat, how hard can that be? Hollow grind that edge first and there are only two points of contact. Try some water stones. Don’t buy Norton, they suck. King brand is acceptable, 800 or 1000 for flattening, and a 6000 (or 1000/6000 combo) finish should cost you less than $100.

    Liked by 1 person

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