What hammer for chisels?

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Scarlet Lancer

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You will be fine using a claw hammer on those as 99.9% of site chippies do on all chisels.

I mainly use Marples plastic handled split proof chisels, they get used with a claw hammer all the time on site and have never had a problem.

In the workshop I use a dead blow mallet or claw hammer, whichever is in easy reach.

One of the reasons for a mallet is the bigger head means you don't have to concentrate on hitting the chisel you can just focus on the sharp end.

One day when I have some spare time (probably in my next life) I want to make a nice mallet, it's been on my to do list for quite a while.
This surprises me having worked on many civil eng sites again have not seen anyone resort to a hammer. Having said this, in my workshop I have my father in laws tools and all had suffered extreme poor use and he started off as an apprentice shipwriget and few of his have not been seriously abused.
 

MikeK

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In 74 years I have never used or heard of a hammer being used on chisels, except an untrained person,
Steel capped or not. I use Marples chisels and other sharp edged tools and it would be further from my mind to pick up a hammer! MALET only. Respect proper use of your tools!

The late David Charlesworth would likely disagree with you. I attended four of his courses, and I don't remember seeing a mallet in his shop, aside from the mallet I brought with me. He used a Nomi Genno hammer for his vast array of chisels, all with wooden handles.

I am at least 70 years shy of your experience, but given the choice of the bulky wooden mallet or the Nomi Genno hammer, I use the hammer on my chisels. So far, none are worse for wear, but as they are socket chisels, I can replace the handles if needed.
 

Orraloon

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Mallet V hammer. Almost as good as a sharpening thread.
Its a fact of life that not everyone will be a good boy and use the correct tool all the time. For that reason there were attempts made to make chisels that the bad boys could use and abuse. The handles usually last as long as it takes said bad boy to turn the whole blade to sparks on the bench grinder.
Regards
John
 

Spectric

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Maybe the better option would be to ditch the handle altogether and modify the chissel to fit into a pnuematic tool like one of these

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TRITON

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Wooden mallet - large surface area, pretty much absorbs the shock of the blow and you get less driving force. Physics innit.
Metal hammer - small surface area, weight driven forward and not absorbed.
Ever see a house framer using a wooden mallet ?. Nope. not enough driving force.
 

Tanglefoot20

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Treat yourself and search for vintage chisels….better steel better quality….and don’t be a silly billy….. use a mallet like normal woodworkers would.

just saying….l
 

TRITON

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Treat yourself and search for vintage chisels….better steel better quality….and don’t be a silly billy….. use a mallet like normal woodworkers would.

just saying….l
I've a number of cast steel chisels. And a set of Lie Nielsen chisels. LN hold their edge better.
 

AndyP

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In 74 years I have never used or heard of a hammer being used on chisels, except an untrained person,
Steel capped or not. I use Marples chisels and other sharp edged tools and it would be further from my mind to pick up a hammer! MALET only. Respect proper use of your tools!
As it happens I am 'untrained' as you put it, hence the question. I just doing a few bits as hobby. I guess we all have to learn 😁. Thanks for your reply anyway.
 

sometimewoodworker

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In 74 years I have never used or heard of a hammer being used on chisels, except an untrained person,
Steel capped or not. I use Marples chisels and other sharp edged tools and it would be further from my mind to pick up a hammer! MALET only. Respect proper use of your tools!
It very much depends on the design of the chisels. You clearly know nothing about Japanese joinery/carpentry, as if you did you would certainly have heard of hammers being used on chisels by the majority of craftsman,

I make no claim as to the quality of my workmanship and prefer to use machine tools, but most Japanese chisels are designed to be used with hammers. I use the baby 100g head for light use, the 200g one for most use and heavier ones if needed, though I seldom ever use the two Japanese hammers on nails, they have hardened faces so will probably not be marked .

35B0E835-03F1-40C7-91F5-9C72898CEAB8.jpeg
 

sometimewoodworker

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Timber framing to Japanese carpenters all use steel hammers on wooden handled chisels, though the former now have all steel chisels, or steel capped.
But its the reason many use socketed chisels, the handle is the disposable part and made to be replaced.
Absolutely, you will never find the pretentious Ebony and Rosewood on the vast majority of the chisels sold in Japan, in fact the better quality chisels will not even have any finish on the handle and it will probably be faceted rather than round
 

AndyP

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I will second the lump hammer, it has short handle for better control, wide enough striking face and you don't have to force it, it will work mostly by it's own weight.

The other otion is a nylon faced hammer. You may find different sizes that will suit you and the nylon face will last a very long time and it's cheap and easy to replace (mine don't have any serious signs of wear, though I have wooden handled chisels only).

I think that a wooden mallet will not last long if it's used to strike the steel capped chisels.
Thanks for that, I've decided to try the nylon faced hammer as that will be useful for many things besides. I'll give the lump hammer a try, tbh I had discounted this as being too brutal but having read people's opinions can see the merits.
Once again thanks everyone for your replies, I think we can knock this on the head now. 😭
 

Garden Shed Projects

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A mallet will always be the preferred option but there are exceptions.

If you’re working away from the workshop and on site, there’s a lot of hand tools you don’t really have space for in your bag, also it would be too heavy to carry around.

The mallet is one and what they teach you at Technical College is to use a hammer instead and strike the chisel with its cheek.

This is for sinking hinges, lock plates and the odd joint or two where you’re not hitting very hard though.
I agree with hlvd. I was taught to turn the hammer 90 degrees and strike with the side of the head. It works with plastic handle and the steel ones.

I have never owned a mallet, although it is on my to make list.
 

isaac3d

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Well my initial thought was: What sort of chisel? Are you chopping bricks or wood? Are you using a paring chisel or a mortice chisel?
So the best answer is: if you need to hit a chisel then consider the force you want to use and the delicacy of your chisel edge (and handle). Light taps with the heel of the hand or a wooden mallet are plenty for a paring chisel (if you must). If you are chopping out mortices with a 1/2 inch thick "pig sticker" then a use a heavy mallet or a steel hammer. Remember; horses for courses.
 

Richard_C

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Going off at a tangent, but what are the pros and cons of round wooden mallets?
I use a round beech mallet for carving, a small one on small Henry Taylor chisels. I don't do much these days. You don't have to think about the orientation of the head, one fewer way to mess up. Plus comfort, your wrist never needs to twist just flex naturally. Plus they curve a bit top to bottom as well as round so you don't need to be precise that way either, it still strikes the chisel with a straight force. Plus it evens the wear on the head, not that it would matter for what I do.

The big plus is that it is such a lovely thing, a pleasure to pick up, hold and use.
 

isaac3d

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I use a round beech mallet for carving, a small one on small Henry Taylor chisels. I don't do much these days. You don't have to think about the orientation of the head, one fewer way to mess up. Plus comfort, your wrist never needs to twist just flex naturally. Plus they curve a bit top to bottom as well as round so you don't need to be precise that way either, it still strikes the chisel with a straight force. Plus it evens the wear on the head, not that it would matter for what I do.

The big plus is that it is such a lovely thing, a pleasure to pick up, hold and use.
Ah, I have often wondered about that. I use a flat faced wooden mallet when I need to and imagined that it might be less easy to make a precise strike with a round mallet. I do agree that a round mallet has a certain aesthetic appeal.
 

Jacob

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This is the standard joiner's mallet as used by millions, before amateur woodwork gurus started "over-thinking" the problem and promoting a confusing fashion range of expensive alternatives. :rolleyes:
The flat faces are also particularly for knocking frames apart without marking them
 
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