I broke my chisel – why did this happen?

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Viewing 8 posts - 16 through 23 (of 23 total)
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  • #629090
    Greg Jones
    Participant

    It’s not my intent to be argumentative, as only you know if you chopped hard or not. But I can say that chisel was abused, and it didn’t have to split to see that. The way the head of that handle is mushroomed is a tell-tale sign. I‘ve owned 4 of those Veritas bench chisels and one of the Veritas mortise chisels for years now, all in PM-V11 and none of them have a mushroomed head like yours. This one is the most beat-up one of the bench chisels. BTW, the Veritas mortise chisels do have a steel hoop to help protect the handles.

    #629102
    Greg Jones
    Participant

    Now just in the interest of FYI, this is the ash mallet I made about 10 years ago and what I use to chop dovetails. It’s not easy in the photo to tell how much the head has been dented, but you can see how the light reflects differently on the head compared to the smooth handle. This mallet (and the Thorex hammer used by Paul) are about perfect for chopping because they are hard enough to transmit energy, but not harder than the chisels they are used with, which means the head of the mallet gets the brunt of the impact damage.

    #629117
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    I am using this mallet now: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/hand-tools/mallets/50229-veritas-cabinetmakers-mallet

    Not sure if that wood is softer than the handle though… I think the problem was not how hard I hit it (any softer and it would not penetrate the oak), but rather like Larry alluded to – that the brass mallet was wrong for this purpose, as it clearly is much harder.

    #629228
    Sven-Olof Jansson
    Participant

    Before first switching to the Thor hammer, and later the Veritas cabinet makers mallet, I for years used one made from Lignum Vitae (a gift; and not what I, given that species’ endangered status, would buy). Despite being harder than any of my chisel handles (elastic modulus 14.1 GPa), none came to any harm, which actually should not surprise, as Lignum Vitae used to be a typical wood for mallets.

    What makes the use of metal hammers and mallets on wood handles unsuitable, I think is related to the impact of the hammer’s force on the handle, which is carried over in such short time that the wood of the handle cannot transmit it to the blade of the chisel.

    Then, of course, there is always the possibility that an individual handle came from wood that wasn’t appropriate for a chisel handle.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    #629319
    Benoît Van Noten
    Participant

    Waldo, sorry, I thought my comment might have been interesting for other people reading this thread.

    #629350
    Ed
    Participant

    I have a wooden moulding plane with a perfect, round depression in the middle of the nose where someone clearly smacked it with a ball pein hammer. It’s the only one of its kind on the plane. I can just hear the person groaning, “Wrong hammer!!!” It is a hammer blow that just keeps on ringing all through the years, probably for over a century now.

    Any chance this was just bad wood used for the handle, perhaps with a weakness or even a check? I can’t tell if this chisel has a tang on it, but if so, another possibility is that setting the tang was improper, was too tight, and the thing was just waiting to split with just a little bit of a smack. I’d expect the wrong hammer choice would mushroom and mar the handle, maybe knock out a chip from the edge, but if the handle outright split, it probably would have split with any mallet. Mushrooming the edge doesn’t always mean excessive force. It can also have to do with aim and striking angle (no criticism intended).

    By the way, if LV hadn’t replaced the whole tool, be aware that they are excellent for selling parts. They likely would have sold you a handle. Just send an email to the help people. I needed some parts for a LV spokeshave and they were quite helpful. It took a little while for them to price out the parts and figure out if they could supply them, but not very long really.

    #629567
    sanford
    Participant

    I have recently tried a bit of carving and I those brass headed mallets are basically carvers mallets — I am thinking of getting one for carving. A lot of what they are used for is is fairly modest tapping. I have no idea what carvers do to hog off lots of material from white oak or whatever.

    I have one veritas chisel with that “caramelized” (really?) maple handle but have not tried to cut a mortise with it. Given your experience I will not. I have used Narex bench chisels and old Marples (pre-Irwin) blue handled chisels for cutting mortises and I hit them pretty hard with one of the two sided hammers Paul advocates. But like some other folk here, I like dedicated mortise chisels. You can hit them pretty hard! I have used the veritas chisel to cut dovetails which, on Paul’s method, does involve a mallet. No problem so far.

    Glad to hear Veritas replaced your chisel. That is the sign of a good company. I wonder if the chisel could have had a defect? I also wonder whether their processing of the handle (caramelized maple) might make it brittle. I even wonder why they do that — makes the chisel sound tasty I suppose. They say it helps seal the wood, maybe to keep random cosmic rays from penetrating too deeply. Just a guess.

    #629722
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    Normally I also prefer mortise chisels for chopping mortises, however in this case I am making Paul’s eco bin, and the only chisel I have that is the same thickness than my plywood is the veritas bench chisel. So… I have no choice 🙁

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