Seaton Chest Style Chisels

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D_W

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I've told a fairly significant number of requesters that I don't really make chisels for the public. That's true - and I also don't want to make 15 sets a year for other people for no reason.

But one of the things that I've noticed in those requests is that about 1/3rd of them are "can you make chisels like the seaton chest chisels?". Those requests tend to be more practical users who have tried to have such chisels made by a blacksmith and there's problems with them that wouldn't be there if the blacksmith catered to woodworkers. I think there aren't many of those.

So I am going to make a couple of sets and try to get them to look at least similar to the originals and have the same proportions.

The originals are extremely thin and light, and have a really long tang that probably has less to do with practicality in use (the long tang area) and more to do with chisels being made of separate pieces and then butt welded together.

I won't say much about making these, just show pictures as they are completed.

The other thing that strikes me about the types when following the proportions in the seaton chest book is just how light they are. nothing other than the firmers and very narrow chisels have much length, the tips of some of the chisels are 1/16th to less than 1/20th of an inch thick and the handles are long in proportion.

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I'm going to take some minor liberties in not making the chisels 3/8-5/8" really short below the bolster - they're generally going to be around 2" of tang to the shoulder and 3" of blade .

But my opinion is that if most people picked this type of chisel up (figure 0.06" at the edge, and even at the shoulder, still only about 0.13" thick), they wouldn't be able to tolerate the light weight.
 
Very interesting. I don't need them but I would be very interested to try one. Let me know if you want to sell one!
 
The best thing I can say to relate to them is imagine getting a lightly made carving gouge, flattening it out and putting a fatter handle on it. I'll slowly continue to make chisels as long as I'm solvent - because I made a considerable effort in figuring out how to make them well.

I made this sloppy set last year but wasn't interested in making a direct copy, so they have more blade and less long tang, and I left them around .08 thickness instead of .06 (it's a huge difference). But anyone used to modern chisels would think that you can't hit them hard (you can). They must not be that hard to find the limit of, though, as there are some documented as being broken in the seaton chest book.



I also experimented with handle shapes as there are things that look much more interesting than the typical ball ended handle with octagonal sides.

But the octagonal type is the most comfortable. So I know where to go with these and the only thing left is whether or not I can get the bolsters forge welded on square and limit the warping in heat treatment.

I just weighed the chisel second from the right - it's over 10" long total and weighs 2.5 ounces (apple handle). The blade width (not sure what I was thinking) is 0.45".

Trial sets don't really make sense so I may not have been thinking anything.

They do need to be held from the handle, though, and I think a lot of people aren't comfortable with that. It's not hard to get the blade into a marked line with the handle held, or ahead of it, though - they're not heavy enough to be difficult to point.
 
Really like the chisel style and bolster, David!

Thanks, Tony - five of those are still here. I like the late 19th century style of chisel better, but have gotten the general comment that they're also light weight in the blade - and long. They are compared to a lot of current offerings - long in handle, light in the blade. Plenty of other chisels out there for people who like to pinch the tips.
 
Thanks, Tony - five of those are still here. I like the late 19th century style of chisel better, but have gotten the general comment that they're also light weight in the blade - and long. They are compared to a lot of current offerings - long in handle, light in the blade. Plenty of other chisels out there for people who like to pinch the tips.
I hate to admit (because I used A2!), but I made a few marking knives in a similar style. Gave them all away to others on the “Old Tool list”. Have to look to see if I have one laying around. If so, I post a pic.
 
I hate to admit (because I used A2!), but I made a few marking knives in a similar style. Gave them all away to others on the “Old Tool list”. Have to look to see if I have one laying around. If so, I post a pic.

I wouldn't mind seeing the knife.

I don't have a furnace, but I could reasonably normalize A2. That said, with a furnace, it's a well behaved cakewalk, so I get why it became so popular for a while. George mentioned using it for the wmsbg coopers who were were getting not much edge life out of 1070 or 1075 laminated irons with white oak back in the early or mid 90s.

It's not as bad as I blast it to be, but I haven't yet found a wood that carbon steel won't plane efficiently if the wood behavior is accounted for. Even silica doesn't really present a problem.

Warren has one of these 6 chisels. I ground them quite a bit after heat treat and I think 26c3 definitely has a "skin" if the thickness heat treated isn't really thin. In short, I wanted them to be harder. While he was walking around in my garage, I showed them to him and said I wouldn't even give them away if I didn't have a chance to test them individually, so we tested one and it was OK. He doesn't like much, but might be too polite to tell me if there's something he doesn't like about the one he took. That set is just mules, though. I learned what I need to know about it and they'll be much closer to size before heat treat so that they are really high hardness but good toughness (they'll be about 64) through the entire thickness. Warpage with water hardening steel is never going to disappear, but it's not so much of an issue with these. The first reaction may be that 64 is too hard, but these have almost nothing wear resistant in them, so they still sharpen really easily. I would guess that this set after the issue mentioned above is more like 60-62 - they don't stand out at that.
 

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