View Poll Results: Where do you grip your chisels for fine mallet work?

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  • Hold the blade closer to the cutting edge: < 5 years experience

    24 43.64%
  • Hold the handle only: < 5 years experience

    6 10.91%
  • Hold the blade closer to the cutting edge: >= 5 years experience

    21 38.18%
  • Hold the handle only: >= 5 years experience

    4 7.27%
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Thread: Poll - Where do You Grip Your Chisels for Fine Mallet Work?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    PA
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    Poll - Where do You Grip Your Chisels for Fine Mallet Work?

    Honest question - poll, based on something I read a few years ago.

    Lots of discussion about balance of different chisels lately, and some folks preferring butt chisels for dovetail work, heavier vs. lighter chisels, etc.

    How do you hold your chisels when you do fine mallet work, like HB dovetails or I guess malleting to the line for anything.

    Just curious. I've slowly become a convert to holding only the handle of a chisel, and never or almost never the blade. I thought this was clumsy for the finest cuts a few years ago, but it's turned out to be much more comfortable and faster as time goes on.

    If you do both, think about what you do when you're working the last cut at the marking line, are you holding the handle, or are you holding very close to the edge to place the chisel in the marking line?
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Philadelphia, PA
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    3,632
    I put hold the blade <5 years, though I do hold by the handle sometimes too. Lets say for example I'm chopping out HBDT pins. I'll start by holding it near the blade since I'm holding it in a gauge line. Once I get the shoulder establish I tend to grip the handle. Of course, at that point I'm hitting the mallet harder so maybe that wouldn't be considered fine mallet work anymore.
    Woodworking is terrific for keeping in shape, but it's also a deadly serious killing system...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Charlotte, MI
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    1,284
    I hold my chisels like I'm holding a pencil. Down near the business end. I find this gives me the most control. I usually hold it with my thumb on the face and the middle and pointer fingers holding the bevels My ring and pinkie fingers are usually on the work itself to help guide the chisel. This is only for mallet work, of course paring is different altogether.
    Your endgrain is like your bellybutton. Yes, I know you have it. No, I don't want to see it.

    Ask me why I use hand tools, and I'll tell you

  4. #4
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    Mar 2007
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    The reason this came up as a question, IIRC, or at least one of them, is because of those tools that Tommy Mac made, or had made, that had the very MLB-like picture on them of a guy banging away on a chisel. In the logo, the person holding the chisel was holding only the handle, far up from the cutting edge.

    The immediate response was (including from me), "the picture was put together with the guy holding the wrong end of the chisel".

    I see pictures and videos of people holding various parts of the chisel, the japanese users are almost always holding up on the handle (some of the chisel profiles don't permit comfortable use any other way). Then, there are folks making butt chisels - very very short butt chisels - to do dovetail work, and holding them like a pencil.

    As time goes on, being a pig of tools and having a lot around to play with, I gravitate more toward the old forged bolster buck tang type chisels (the very old ones that are flat with a very delicate bevel) , and japanese chisels, and less toward the socket chisels. I wish I could find a full set of the buck types, but it's almost a waste of time looking for them on purpose. They're very light and have very nice feel held on the handles.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR
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    493
    I do both at the same time. For fine malleting with my Ashley Iles Mk2's I hold the chisel at the ferrule, partially holding the handle, partially the blade. I extend my thumb up the handle as an outrigger. Considering the relative size of the blade and handle on those chisels, I am holding them slightly above the centerline, which seems to provide me the most stability. If I am going to tap at or near a scribed line or other precise location, I use my malleting hand (sans mallet) to temporarily hold the chisel near the tip to place it where it want it to go before picking up the mallet.
    gentleman woodworker
    vicarious tool collector

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Midlothian, TX
    Posts
    432
    I used to switch between holding it low and at the handle, and tended to hold it low in the blade when doing fine chopping such as on dovetails. When I got my L-N chisels I pretty much had to move to holding at the handle since I kept slicing my hands because the sides were so sharp. I now always hold at the handle no matter which chisels I'm using, and actually find it easier and more balanced this way.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    SE Indiana
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    203
    I'm with Zach! I hold the chisel like a pencil. You have so much control by doing so.

    This forum has taught me a lot of things and I admit i do change slowly to new but foreign to me methods. I still cannot believe that holding by the handle is an advantage and I don't think I will try it at this point. Heck, I started by holding at the handle and moved to near the edge. ....I have old stanley chisels, LN chisels, and now the new steel LV chisels. They all are sweet but I seem to grab the LV's more and more.

  8. #8
    butt chisels I hold at the buisness end. I like to set the chisel edge to leave the pencil line and hold it there before I whack it. Bench and paring length chisels only get held at the handle or the the socket, at the lowest. They're just too long to reliably hit with the mallet while hilding at the bottom. I suppose of you're whacking a paring chisel with a mallet, you have other issues, but I like sighting down a long straight chisel when whacking a critica line that head to be dead straight.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Williamsburg,Va.
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    9,653
    I hold around the ferrule area,half on blade,half on the handle for sculpting with a mallet. For mortising,I hold the handle. For freehand pushing a paring chisel,I hold the handle. It depends upon what task I'm doing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Chevy Chase, Maryland
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    This question seems euphemistically suspect.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    In my basement
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    For chopping, I hold the ferrule. For paring, I keep a thumb on the top of the blade and hold the handle in my right hand (sometimes I hold on the ferrule, though). For mortising, I grab a handful of handle and start whacking.
    The Barefoot Woodworker.

    Fueled by leather, chrome, and thunder.

  12. #12
    I hold onto the handle so I don't whack something bony when I miss...

    I have conclusive proof that mallets are razor sharp,
    I took a dime size divot outen my left pointer, holding the handle too low.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Burlington, Vermont
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    I hold the blade, but right up by the handle, where my chisels flare from full width in to the neck and then back out to the bolster. Sometimes I keep my thumb on the handle as Andrae suggests, similar to the grips that Peter Follansbee shows in his section on tool holding and grips in his first LN video.

    So I guess I don't hold the handle only, but I don't hold the blade closer to the cutting edge, either.
    " Be willing to make mistakes in your basements, garages, apartments and palaces. I have made many. Your first attempts may be poor. They will not be futile. " - M.S. Bickford, Mouldings In Practice

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Hughto View Post
    This question seems euphemistically suspect.
    Funny, can I steal that? It made me picture a politician being grilled behind a podium about some transgression he or she may or may not have committed.
    Back to chisels, still on the upward learning curve, I hold at the business end when I'm trying to be accurate. I say "trying" because I'm not always very accurate.
    If it ain't broke, fix it til it is!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    1,678
    I'll set the chisel with the fingers close to the edge end, then move back up to whack the handle. I don't like it when a chisel hops back up out of the cut, looking for a finger to cut. Hold it close to the edgeonly long enough to tap the handle to start to cut,, slide back up onto the handle to whack the chisel. Make any sense???

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