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Wood Socket Chisels

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  • Wood Socket Chisels

    Okay, now for the stupid questions.

    I'm interested in making some wood socket chisels, similar to the ones on this page, halfway down:

    If I were to start with a block of steel, it appears to me that I would need two machines-- a lathe AND a mill.

    So Stupid Question, Opus One is this: can these pieces of metal be produced with only one of those machines? If so, which one, and how?

  • #2
    Those are forged. The socket would be difficult to forge without making some tooling. You could use a lathe for that operation then draw out ( heat and forge) the flat part then off to the belt grinder to finish off. A mill could be used but wouldn't be necessary.


    • #3
      Most all socketed chisels made in days gone by were forged in closed dies. It's possible to hand forge to considerable precision chisels that look factory made. However it takes a very skilled hand blacksmith about 15 years of daily esperience to attain this level of crafsmanship.

      The blade portion is probably straight forward but the socket is a tricky piece of blacksmithing. I recall a book on early toolmaking that had it like this (IIRC),

      What would be the tang (if the chisel had one) was be made thicker yhen forged out into a fan shaped flat. The flat is rolled up into a cone, then thin-edged into a weld prep, fluxed, and blacksmith welded. The cone is then sized on a tapered mandrel, tweaked and tidied. Then came the finish work.

      Better chisels were composite. The shanks and sockets were made in one piece of medium carbon steel and there was a welded tool steel edge. If you clean up an old chisel and swab it with metal prep solution (contains phosphoric acid) the transition between tool steel and base metal will be conspicuous. Some top guality chisels may have tool steel shanks and carbon steel sockets. Back in the day consistancy was not consistant and methods of manufacture varied with availability of materials and their market price. I have two Greenfield framing slicks one 3" wide the other 2 1/2/. The 3" is all tool steel to the shank and the 2 1/2 is tool steel about 1/8 thick for 3". The balance is medium carbon steel like maybe 1040 (I assume).

      Getting back to DIY socket chisels, you better study the subject for a while. If you want to machine parts of the chisel I suggest making the sockets on a lathe and the chisels in a mill and welding the two later. The cutting edge can either be a welded inlay of HSS hardfacing or a piece of M42 silver-brazed in a machined prep.

      Good luck. Making a good chisel is not an casual undertaking.

      If you find an older socketed chisel, knock out the handle examine the rough interior of the socket.
      Last edited by Forrest Addy; 05-09-2011, 11:27 AM.


      • #4
        Can the socket be turned?


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jammer Six
          Can the socket be turned?
          That's what Forest Addy suggested on the lathe.
          "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"


          • #6
            Sorry, I didn't answer your question properly. You asked "If I were to start with a block of steel, it appears to me that I would need two machines-- a lathe AND a mill.

            So Stupid Question, Opus One is this: can these pieces of metal be produced with only one of those machines? If so, which one, and how?"

            Toughies. I can think of ways to do them on either single machine but generally round stuff is made on a lathe and rectangular stuff on a mill.

            I need to back you up a bit. Is your goal to make chisels or to justify a machine tool (or two) with chisel making as a first project?

            There's a difference between forging and machining. Machining is subtractive; you start with a piece of material larger than what you want and whittle away everything thats not what you want. Forging is manipulative. It starts with a piece of material a little heavier than what you want and re-shapes it til you're done.

            Machine tools are damn expensive and outfitting them for general use can equal half their cost of acquisition. If your goal is chisels I suggest you acquire the skills and equipment to forge them. Much lower capital investment. If you desire a machine shop then chisel making might be a justification but a thin one. Forged chisels really are better than machined.

            For the price of a good lathe and mill and the necessary ancillary equipment you can outfit a forge shop with a small power hammer and forge furnace, an anvil, tongs, the grinders and belt sanders for finishing, etc, make a number of manufacturing aids and have money left over for classes on how to forge steel and your first year's heat treating bills.

            There's good reasons why good chisels cost $30 and up. There's a LOT of lore and care in the making of simple seeming high quality cutlery like hand chisels.

            Either way it sounds as though you have a two year learning curve ahead of you and please gon't think of that as dismissive or patronizing. We all start in a state of ignorance and learn what we need as we go through life. No less so in metalworking. The learning process often starts with a fascination like - chisels. That's a hell of a start.
            Last edited by Forrest Addy; 05-09-2011, 12:11 PM.


            • #7
              Nope, the goal isn't machines, the goal (as you so rightly identified) is the fascination with chisels.

              I can easily live with forging rather than machining-- I was just under the impression that one machine or the other would be easier.

              At first glance, it appears that a forge and anvil are WAY cheaper than either a lathe or a mill. I'll be spending hundred dollar bills rather than thousand dollar bills, and according to The Modern Blacksmith, I don't need all that much to start. The learning curve was going to be there no matter which way the path went.

              The blade, I understand. The exterior of the socket, I understand. I just don't see, yet, how to get the hole into the socket on an anvil.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jammer Six
                ... I just don't see, yet, how to get the hole into the socket on an anvil.
                I don't understand all I know about blacksmithing but there are several ways to make sockets. The most common way is as I outlined in my first post on this thread. You forge a wide flat fan shape on the end of the blade. Using a swage block or similar aid you roll up the fan shape into a cone whose edges over lap, flux and reheat to welding temp and blacksmith weld. Using a tapered mandrel tap the resulting cone shaped socket smooth and round.

                The are other ways I would imagine like partly piercing a forged knob and working the hollow to a deep cone shape. Forging a round extension and drilling to clear material then forging the cone. What ever works.

                One thing I am sure of some of these operations will be greatly facilitated with some simple, easily made anvil tools. A skilled smith no doubt can bury you with suggestions and sketches.

                Don't go off by yourself and reinvent the wheel. King County has many blacksmiths from farriers to artists. Track them down; find some classes.

                Here's a few links. Bon appatit





                Google "blacksmith schools seattle" and "blacksmith classes seattle"
                Last edited by Forrest Addy; 05-09-2011, 10:36 PM.