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In carpentry, the scissors, chisels and gouges of sculptor obey the same imperative: to slice. But for this, they must be both well chosen and carefully maintained. Close-up on woodworking instruments.

What tools for woodworking?

Dozens of tools for wood

The wood trades are at the origin of many tools, among which the cutting tools occupy a place of choice.

  • Over time, each of them has been adapted according to the needs: straight cutting for the mortises and the assemblies, cutting in U and V for the sculpture, etc. All these shapes reflect the range of applications where they have not been replaced by power tools.
  • They are all made from a hardened steel blade, called board, one end of which is sharpened, while the other is called silk, is embedded in a wooden handle (often charming) or synthetic material.
  • Only carpenter's scissors do not have a reported handle.

Essential: the wood chisel

The best known of all these tools is undoubtedly the right-edged chisel, commonly called chisel.

  • It cuts all kinds of parts, from the plating net to be cut to the mortising beam.
  • Like its cousins, the chisels or gouges, this chisel has a handle, preferably oval or faceted to prevent the tool from rolling and falling.
  • This handle has one or two ferrules, placed at its ends, to prevent it from cracking under the hammer blows.
  • The board, straight or spatulate, is sharpened with an angle of 25°.
  • The cutting end (the wire) must be imperatively protected for transport and storage. Otherwise, the thread may be damaged or hurt a hand...
  • More resistant than the chisel due to the greater thickness of its board, the chisel has a sharpening angle less acute, about 30°. It can sink deep into the wood without the risk of getting stuck and twisted.

1. Ferrule
2. Handle
3. Base and ferrule
4. Collar
5. Board
6. Sharp and bevel
7. wire

wood chisel

Different types of tools

Different kinds of wood scissors

1. Chisel 40
2. Large chisel of sculptor
3. Marine structural scissors
4. Large sculptor's chisel (without bevel)
5. Mortise chisel with rounded bottom

The bedane, specialist mortises

  • This tool is mainly reserved for finishing mortises, whose ends are always cut with this tool (the sides are sliced, in the direction of the wire, with a chisel wood as wide as possible).
  • There are also large carpenter bédanes (all steel) for making or squaring mortises, as well as special bédanes for rounding the mortise bases in the case of door locks to larder.
  • Finally, note the existence of hollow chisels equipped with a wood drill that, mounted on a mortiser, allow to achieve mortises at right angles, without the need for retouching.

The gouge, in love with the round-bump *

  • The gouged is par excellence the tool of the sculptor. It is distinguished by the shape of its cutting edge forming a U.
  • Its finer board can be straight, spatulate, angled spoon-shaped or, more rarely, counter-bent.
  • The shape of the cutting edge depends on its width, which ranges from 2 to 30 mm, and the opening of the hanger (from 10° to 180°). The lower the degree of opening of the hanger, the more the shape of the edge is flattened. A gouge of 0° is a flat gouge, that is to say a sculptor's wood chisel also called "clasp".
  • The burin V-shaped is used to make notches, especially for engraving. The shape of its edge is indicated by an angle (45°, 60° or 90°) and a number (from 2 to 20 mm) indicating the thickness of the branches of V.
  • If the variety of gouges is considerable, a set of three straight or spatulate gouges (90° to 150°) of width 6, 13, 25 mm and a burin (60 or 90°) of width 8 mm allow to start in good conditions. With experience and according to the needs, the game can be complemented by gouges with dimensions and more varied forms...

* Designates a whole work or part in high relief, completely detached from any background.

Versatile tools

Joinery: the tools of woodworking

The various tools lend themselves readily to all the activities of wood. The gouges can be used for carpentry and scissors, for carving.

Fragile tools

Carpentry: use of a mallet on a chisel

Use scissors and chisels with a standard mallet (parallelepiped). It is not recommended to use a hammer or a mallet, which would damage the handle too quickly.

No mallet for precision scissors

Carpentry: precision chisel

Precision scissors have an elongated board and they can be held with both hands. The handle with rounded end should not receive a mallet (the wood is working pushing).

A reinforcing shell

Carpentry: the ferrule can withstand the blows of mallet

In order to withstand mallet strokes, carpenter or carpenter scissors usually have an extra ferrule at the end of the handle.

Burins or chisels?

Joinery: a chisel can dig V-ribs

Tools mainly for wood engraving, the chisels are used to dig V-ribs. They should not be confused with chisels (or scissors) angle. More stocky and equipped with a bevel on the inner side of the V, they always form a right angle and are used to make mortises or squaring those made mechanically.

Adapt the weight of the mallet to the task

Carpentry: the weight of the mallet varies according to the accuracy of the work

Guide the gouges with one hand and, on the other, strike small strokes on the neck with a rounded mallet. The weight of the mallet depends on the fineness of the work.

The bent gouge, friend of the sharpener

Joinery: an angled gouge to dig the wood

The angled gouges allow to dig the wood more deeply. Their spoon-shaped ends, however, are delicate to sharpen.

Edge in front or behind

Joinery: use of a gouge

The edge of the gouge is on the outside of the board. It can, however, be sharpened on the inside to more accurately perform some rounded cuts. For example, to make counter-profiles on moldings or on cylindrical stair poles...

Take care of the tools

A protective case for woodworking tools

In order to protect the cutting edges from possible damage, the tools should be stored in a kit, which can be made by yourself (in leather, linen or thick cotton).

Ensure your safety

Safety: sharp tools must be tidy

Scissors should never be stored in bulk. Align sharp tools on sloped shelves, with the handle facing out so that the cutting edge remains inaccessible.

Sharpen and sharpen

All these tools, however, have in common the need to be always very sharp, so sharp.

  • Thesharpening (or roughing) grind, on the fly or with a special device (Tormek).
  • Thesharpening consists in using whetstones whose profile is adapted to the curvature of the cutting edge.
  • These two steps are followed by honing (or sharpening) whose purpose is to eliminate metal barbs. It is done on a stone with very fine grain or mechanically using a felt or leather in rotation.


Carpentry: dehorning a tool

  • The leather disc removes the morfil that forms on the back of the cutting edge.
  • Demorfiling also polishes the cutting edge with a sharpening paste.

Sharpen the gouges

Joinery: sharpening gouges

To sharpen the gouges, use a special device on a ball joint that guarantees a regular sharpness.

Demoralize the interior

Carpentry: dehorning a tool

A leather disc, oiled and coated with sharpening paste, allows the interior to be demoralized.

A special disc burins

Joinery: demorfilage disc

  • The chisels also benefit from a guiding device to sharpen both sides of their V-shape at a constant angle.
  • A V-shaped honing disc is ideal.

Use a clamping device

Carpentry: device for clamping a tool

  • Sharpen the scissors on a water wheel using a clamping device on the straight edge tool.
  • The chisels can be guided by a simple sharpening support.

As many sharpening accessories as tool shapes

Joinery: a grinder to sharpen the tools

A large number of accessories fit on the grinders to allow accurate sharpening, depending on the desired angle and shape of the tool board.

Sharpening of recessed square logans

Joinery: sharpening of hollowed out square logans

Sharpen the recessed square chisels (intended to contain a special drill for mortising machine) using a diamond drill mounted on a drill. A cylindrical centering guide is placed at the end of the milling cutter according to the diameter of the tool.

Water to make the diamond stones last

  • Diamond stones are particularly suitable for sharpening wide scissors.
  • Always use them with water for greater longevity.

Regularly sharpen tools

Maintain the sharpness of carpentry tools

  • To maintain the sharpness of the tools, sharpen them regularly using an oil or water whetstone.
  • These stones exist in a multitude of profiles.

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