What Size of Mortise Chisels Do I Need?

Chisels are commonly used in woodworking and choosing the right chisel for the job you have to complete is extremely important. If you find yourself making mortise cuts often, you will want to add a set of mortise chisels to your toolbox. These chisels come in a variety of sizes but narrowing down your search can make choosing the chisel you need easier.

Choosing the mortise chisel size needed relies quite heavily on the type of woodwork that a carpenter must complete. The most commonly used mortise chisels are 1/4” and 3/8” but there are several sizes available today. Often the best choice is to purchase a set, which will have several sizes available.

Often, as important as the size is the quality of the chisel, which will ensure you have years of proper use. Comparing brands is a great way to ensure you get a chisel that fits your needs. Of course, keep reading to see our top choice of mortise chisels that are available today.

Which Mortise Chisels to Buy First

As mentioned, mortise chisels are not necessarily something you need hundreds of. Some who make few mortise style cuts find that adding these to their collection is pointless when they can use a bench chisel in a pinch. However, if you do a lot of woodworking (specifically cabinetry), they can be very beneficial.

This leads us into the idea of who exactly needs a mortise chisel, and which should be added to your toolbox. Some things to keep in mind when considering mortise chisels are:

  • If you find yourself making mortise cuts often, these chisels are relatively inexpensive and can make work much easier on you. Having a great set of mortise chisels at your disposal can be very beneficial.
  • A great place to start is with a ¼” and a 3/8” chisel. These are the most commonly used and can be used for a wider range of projects.
  • If you work with wider stock items like dining room tables, the 1/2” mortise chisel may be a good option for you to add. This can be used for some woodworking needs but is a bit more difficult to find.

Always keep in mind that the chisel size is determined by the mortise stock and not the tenon stock. This is commonly confused and can lead to mistakes when purchasing.

Mortise Chisels: Types and Uses You Should Know

There are truly countless types of chisels available in the world today, but mortise chisels are some of the most important to woodwork.

The classic way to use mortising is by using a mallet to chisel into wood and then levering it out. This will help remove waste and works far better than traditional bench chisels which are not thick enough to withstand this levering process.

There are a couple of types of mortise chisels, with the original being the Western mortise chisels. Mortise chisels are known for being heavy and thicker than they are wide. The handles to the chisels have to be made from strong materials to withstand hitting. It is common to have only one or two mortise chisels, but there are a variety of sizes available today.

How to Choose a Mortise Chisel?

Of course, there are times when you may find mortise chisels at your local hardware store. You do not want to choose just any chisel and rather do your best to get an option that fits your woodworking needs. A few things you should keep in mind when choosing a mortise chisel are:

  • The Size – While every sized chisel has a purpose, you want to find the perfect chisel for the project you have in mind. A great starting point is to compare the mortise chisel to the bench chisel you will use for similar work. Another option is to purchase a set, which can have several sizes and better ensures you have a chisel for your needs.
  • The Style – As mentioned, there are two styles of mortise chisel that you will want to choose from the Japanese and Western styles. Often, Japanese chisels are made from a harder steel, which can create better durability. The only negative to this is if you are using certain hardwoods, as these harder chisels can cause cracking.
  • The Handles – You will find mortise handles that are both wooden and plastic, with the higher end options usually coming in wooden. Plastic can bend over time and split, which is never a good idea. If you plan to only use the mortise chisel on occasion, the plastic handle options can be a better price.
  • The Brand – While trying out a new brand can lead to decent results, it is often best to choose a brand that is already well known. Since most of these chisels can cost a decent amount and the quality of your woodworking is at risk, it is often best to stick to better known brands.

Speaking of brand, let’s talk about some of the best brands you can buy chisels from today!

Best Mortise Chisels

Finding a quality mortise chisel can be difficult if you do not know where to start. While we will further dive into what to look for in these chisels if you are out and want to purchase, we will also discuss some of the best brands available today. You can find these chisels sold in sets or individually, but some of the best options are:

Narex 4-Piece Mortise Chisel Set

If you want a variety of sizes, this is the choice for you and comes at a price that is more affordable than most mortise chisel sets. There are four chisels inside and each is extremely high quality. The chisel is made from a beech wood grip that has been stained and waxed, the blades are made from Cr-Mn steel.

Narex is a well-known brand and have been built to last for years to come. The set itself comes with a 4mm, 6mm, 10mm, and 12mm sized chisel. These are a great, affordable option for those who want several chisels that will last through years of woodworking.

Temple Carpenter’s Blue Steel Mortise Chisel

While most of the chisels you find today are Western style or English style as some websites call them, there are also Japanese style mortise chisels.

This specific chisel is a Japanese style and has been hand hammered from Yasuki blue steel. This is one of the hardest steel options used in blades today, and it’s guaranteed to last forever and hold on to a good sharpening for a long time.

Two Cherries Swan Neck Chisels

Mortise chisels are most often seen in a traditional chisel shape, but they can also come in this swan style shape. This features a hook that resembles a swan neck, hence the name. While this style of chisel is not necessary for many woodworkers, it is great for those who want to create clean notches.

The Two Cherries brand is very popular and created using German-engineering. The chisel comes in a few sizes, including 6mm, 10mm, 12mm. This is one of the better made on our list while also being one of the more job specific options.

Sorby 5/8" Mortise Chisel

This is a great choice and commonly used amongst many woodworkers. This is one of the most durable on our list and can be used for years and years. Even with daily use, this chisel can withstand routine hammering due to the big ferrule on top of the handle.

The Sorby brand is one of the most popular mortise chisel makers you will find today. The brand is known for their extremely hard and durable chisel blades. Of the many on our list, this is definitely a top contender for the best mortise chisel available today.

Add Quality Mortise Chisels to Your Toolbox

If you complete woodworking projects often, having mortise chisels at your disposal can be very beneficial. Often the best place to start is by purchasing a set or a couple of commonly used sizes and adding to your toolbox as you see fit. It is important to always purchase quality mortise chisels as these will last longer and yield better results.

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