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JOEL Joel's Blog

A 1/16 Inch Dovetail Chisel


A 1/16 Inch Dovetail Chisel 4Old 1/16" chisels are pretty rare. They are fragile, easy to sharpen to nothing, and consequently very few survive. For the common joinery operations they are pretty unnecessary which also meant that they weren't very common.
But 1/16" roundback and beveled edge chisels were listed in 19th and early 20th century tool catalogs and for a cabinetmaker they can be very handy indeed.

I asked Barry Iles if he could make some for us and these are hand forged (along with the rest of the round back range) have excellent edge retention, and for cutting at the scribe line of a tail board with tiny pins it just can't be beat.

The one I am currently using (and is show above) came sharp enough to use (because it's so narrow it cuts even when a little dull) the sides are perfectly tilted in for dovetail clearance, and the entire chisel is a little smaller overall than the 1/8" size to reflect it's daintier character.

You do have to exercise a little caution when striking or scraping out. It is a delicate tool and can be easily broken. Still it's great that
I don't have to worry that I will damage a tail because of a too wide chisel.

The only negative is that the backs, which are hand done are decent but great. Remember all you need is flatness at the cutting edge, everything else is wasted, but flattening the back the usual way is hard because the chisel is so narrow it has a tendency to roll. Here is how I did it, going up and down (green arrows in the photo) on the stone, not side to side. A 1/16 Inch Dovetail Chisel 5

I am very pleased. The chisel costs a little more than a 1/8" chisel to reflect the additional labor of hand grinding a wider blank all the way to 1/16"

Click here for more information on the Ashley Iles Roundback chisels please .

Join the conversation
This looks like a nice chisel for those of us who like working with the minuscule. It sounds rather nicer for dovetails than the Two Cherries 5/64" I have, both for it's slightly smaller size (at least the nominal size), and I think the side angles are better on this one.


P.S. For those of you hunting for both, TFWW does sell the Two Cherries chisel I mentioned. You'll have to ignore the 2mm=1/8" advisory to get it, though.:)
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