Continuing with my reviews of DVD’s for the SmartFlix Hand Tools course, this time I review the David Charlesworth DVD’s: Precision Preparation of Chisels For Accurate Joinery and Chisel Techniques for Precision Joinery.

Like the earlier reviewed DVD’s on Hand Plane preparation and use, these were shot on location at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. Again like those DVD’s, these titles completely cover the subject of sharpening chisels as well as detailing specific joinery techniques using them. To quote Charlesworth:

“Chisel work is at the heart of all of the most sophisticated joinery”

Heeding this advice, it will benefit all woodworkers to learn about preparing and using chisels to ultimately help us in efforts to perfect our joinery tasks.

Chisels – Precision Preparation for Joinery

chiselprep.jpgAs the title suggests, this DVD details the subject of a sharpening chisels for use in the workshop. Specifically, in this DVD Charlesworth highlights both the concepts shared with sharpening plane irons as well as new techniques that are unique to sharpening for chisels.

Starting with the definition of sharpness as the intersection of two polished surfaces, and the statement that the quality of the edge is only as good as the quality of the polish on the surfaces, Charlesworth takes you through the process of flattening the backs of chisels and honing their edges.

This instruction starts with a discussion of how to use Japanese water stones to sharpen (including the flattening of stones with a simple technique using wet/dry paper on a flat plate). Two distinct movements are discussed for flattening the chisel back with an interesting aside on why a slight hollow on a chisel back is actually a desirable trait as opposed to a belly or bow. Along the way, Charlesworth touches on different scratch patterns and how to use them to your advantage to determine when to move to the next grit stone as well as why to avoid using the second sharpening movement on narrow chisels.

The discussion on honing the bevel of chisels covers a triple-bevel technique for fast sharpening. This includes a rationale for each of the primary and micro-bevels and their angles as well as a discussion on when to re-grind the tool. Also covered was a technique for using a jig and a coarse stone to correct for an edge that may have been ground out of square.

Charlesworth shows a nice water stone holding board for use when sharpening and as an added bonus the plans for this board are included as a PDF on the DVD.

The material covered on this DVD is a nice complement to the information on the DVD covering sharpening of plane irons.  Distinctions are made to compare and contrast the two techniques. The techniques for chisels are different and for good reason. Charlesworth emphasizes these differences as well as their merits for use with chisels.

Chisel Techniques for Precision Joinery

Chisel_Techniques.jpgBefore delving into the subject of joinery using chisels, this DVD begins with a survey discussion on various chisels types. Charlesworth speaks to the relative merits of various types and brands of chisels including both western and Japanese tools.

The chisel joinery discussions start using the half-blind dovetail as a teaching example. Here, Charlesworth covers the proper grip, hand position and use of the mallet when chiseling. While working on the dovetails in the DVD, he introduces a couple of specific techniques including: the “release cut” and “tenting” to remove waste material fromthe joints. Also discussed is the technique of horizontal paring including the proper stance and body position as well as the effective use of the hands as a breaking system for increased precision. During the discussion on paring, the concept of the “forbidden direction” is introduced and Charlesworth effectively demonstrates why you should never pare with the grain but rather across the grain in order to obtain precision results. Joinery techniques are continued with a shorter section on the mortise and tenon joint. Techniques for chopping a mortise and paring a tenon are covered. Included is the use of the tenting technique for trimming tenon shoulders as well as the proper techniques for levering and extracting chips from a mortise.

One interesting aspect of Charlesworth’s chisel technique involves the use of a hammer rather than a mallet for chopping in order to best hear the differences in sound indicating when to remove chips. In passing, Charlesworth also mentions one of the few uses for a chisel in the bevel down position – creating faceted pegs for decorative or structural use in furniture.

The material covered on this DVD is definitely useful for developing skills with bench chisels. The importance of the chisel as a precision tool in the woodshop is emphasized and reinforced. Anyone wanting to learn proper chiseling techniques and methods to improve the quality of their joinery will benefit from viewing it.

Don’t forget, if you are a new customer and interested in renting these DVD’s before the full Hand Tools course is developed, SmartFlix has offered readers of The Craftsman’s Path a $2 discount coupon for your use. Simply use the coupon code: CRAFTPATH when you check out!

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2 Responses to “DVD Review: David Charlesworth Chisels – Precision Preparation and Techniques for Presision Joinery”

  1. Mark,

    Did you know that the coupon code you cite is only good for new customers? If you have rented from SmartFlix before the code is invalid. Bummer eh?

  2. Shannon,

    I guess I did not explicitly know that but, i guess it makes sense. Otherwise there would be an open code with no expiration.


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