Gouge & Chisel terminology

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Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby ToneWood » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:50 pm

Lately I've come across some initially baffling and seemingly archaic terminology used in the world of gouges and chisels. I think I understand them now but I'll let you judge that:

Finishing (chisel) = Heavy Duty (in Hans Karlsson speak) = Registered (Mortice chisel) = Roughing = "Double Hoop Striking Gouges" (HK/Country Workshop) = Butt (chisel)
= A heavy duty chisel designed to be hit with a mallet. Usually it has a brass ring around the end of the handle to protect the (usually wooden) handle and prevent it splitting.
The stem of the chisel/gouge may be thicker than "normal" (i.e. thicker than a "paring gouge" - see below). "Finishing" is a mis-spelling of the original French word for such tools.

Paring (gouge)
A regular gouge, that does not have the heavy duty features described above. The name comes from French and refers to peeling, as in peeling an apple.
The tool is not intended to be struck by a mallet, rather it is pushed by force of hand and, possibly, body weight.

"Out cannel"
A gouge with the bevel on the outside. Used generally, and favoured for bowl carving, this gives the tool a tendency to lift out towards the end of the stroke, rather than a tendency to bury itself ever deeper, allowing gradual tapered shavings to cut. The more general purpose option(?)

"In cannel"
A gouge with the bevel on the inside. More limited in scope. Better for gouging in a straight line(?) and on external surfaces. [Haven't come any big proponents for this grind option.]

Motrice (chisel)
A deep, narrow chisel, designed to cut out deep, narrow, rectangular holes ("mortices") that provide the female end of a mortice and tenon joint.

Pig-sticker (mortice chisel)
A traditional English design of mortice chisel, which has a characteristically (dagger-like) long blade, rather than a shorter, stubbier one.

Spoon gouge
A gouge that is shaped like a spoon, rather than a gouge designed to make spoons (in fact Drew Langsner writes that they are not suitable for spoon/ladle carving).
Except for Hans Karlsson spoon gouges, which are designed for carving out spoon bowls. :D

"Dog-leg" Gouge / Trog Runner
A gouge with a stem that is doubly bent, like a dog's rear leg. Used to gouge in difficult to reach areas, such as the bottom of a steep-side bowl/kuksa.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby SeanHellman » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:54 pm

Just a quick note. In cannel chisels were mainly used by pattern makers to form channels or internal radius in wooden patterns for moulds. As we do not make such wooden formers these days there use is more limited. Great for shrink pots as they cut straight down. All iron machines, cogs and water wheels etc were made using a wooden former ( the actual shape of the part being cast) pressed into sand contained in metal boxes. Melted iron was then poured into the moulds after the wooden pattern was removed.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby Ian S » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:18 pm

I was going to type up a big post here, but I'm not going to add much value by doing so.

Fundamentally check with what the manufacturer intends the tool to be used for and use it accordingly.

You are also going to get into difficulty because you are mixing Swedish, old English, modern English and possibly American naming conventions in what you're trying to cover, and there are stacks of other types of chisels you haven't named.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby ToneWood » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:20 pm

Not to mention French, fermoir->Firmer*.
*From this great little google book on-line:<Link Removed - I've noticed Google books had directed me to a Russian site. I suspect this book is still within copyright and I have no wish to deprive the author or its publisher of their rights. The book looks good to me and is available from Amazon:
Softback: "The Woodwright's Guide, working wood with wedge & edge" by Roy Underhill, Illustrated by Eleanor Underhill
Hardback: "The Woodwright's Guide, working wood with wedge & edge" by Roy Underhill, Illustrated by Eleanor Underhill
>
I had forgotten about this chap, used to watch him sometimes on TV in the USA, in The Woodwright's Shop (and New Yankee Workshop, and on the radio, Car Talk - Caaah Tok :) - & Garrison Keeler's Lake Wobegon, of course :)), quirky for America yet very sensible.



I see what you mean about yet more types:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chisel
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=ca ... ochure.pdf

I also forgot to mention "carving gouges". Also it is clear that several of the above overlap. One of the articles below points out that "butt" chisels (i.e heavy duty) can be used for paring too.

I think I get the general idea now though - but sounds like there will always be some gotchas.

BTW There is some additional info.:
Comparing firmer v. paring gouges/chisels here: http://www.technologystudent.com/equip1/chisels.htm
and here: http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/bSma ... hisel1.asp
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby ToneWood » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:57 pm

Part of the reason for my interest, was my recent purchase of 2 old chisels/gouges from ebay. Both old, but in remarkably good condition and inexpensive but desperately in need of proper sharpening (I was a little shocked by how blunt and badly sharpened they were - and I consider myself a beginner at sharpening).

One is an old 1/4" Marples Register Mortice chisel - bought with the intention to make a wooden turning/bow saw, the key part being the 2x 1/4" mortice joints.
I have since bought an inexpensive saw (also from ebay) but that won't necessarily stop me from making one. Also I see that one can make quite crude but
effective bow saws using greenwood, in the round, with the bark still on - but I have metal bow saws for that sort of thing, I was really looking for a coping/turning
saw for spoon/"treen" making. Apart from the hack sharpening job it had, it looks almost new. I have already straightened the cutting edge, flattened the long
flat bevel and put a v. sharp, mirror-finished edge back on it - probably better than when new (took maybe 20-30 minutes). Looking forward to using it.
Image

The other is a shallow Gilpin carving gouge. Possibly very old (they stopped all manufacture back in the 1970s apparently but started back in the late 1700s). A nick of metal had been take out of the corner tip and it was very blunt. So it took about 1.5 hours of very careful wet grinding, 5 different grades of wet & dry paper (glued to a piece of glass from the top of an old hi-fi system) and buffing with and without autosolv - but the result is a razor sharp edge and mirror-finished bevel (note: my definition of "mirror finished" may be less stringent than yours ;)).
Image

Both are lovely tools and very good to hold (even more than the HK tools - heresy! ) and I can hardly wait to use them. The Marples mortice chisel turned out to be smaller and slimmer than I expected, quite refined in fact. The Gilpin gouge blade feels wonderful and has a distinct wedge to its side profile (just visible in the image), I'm hoping to use it for finishing work. I like that these tools are old and have been used before and have some history to them, and was happy to invest a small amount of time and effort to bring them back into working condition - hopefully with decades (or centuries) more use ahead of them. :)
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby SeanHellman » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:25 pm

That Gilpin chisel looks a very fine example. You will be surprised at just how much heavy work it will do.
Re mirror finishes on the tools. It is only the last few mm next to the cutting edge that really needs to be highly polished the rest just needs to be flat. No need to spend too much time polishing, unless you are a narcissist and like looking at your reflection whilst working.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby ToneWood » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:28 pm

:D No such vanity, John Merrick is my hero. Although it is sometimes handy to know who is standing behind you ;). Only the bevel, maybe 5-6mm is polished. Once stropping begins, a polished edge is only a few strokes away. I consider myself a novice at sharpening albeit one that is beginning to get the hang of it**, the polished edge gives me a clear visual indication that I have finished (that's what the HK and Gransfor edges look like).

Did you mean the Marples chisel or the Gilpin gouge? The Marples* chisel looks quite fine and slender in real life but it also exudes quality and I am sure you are right that it will do whatever can reasonably be asked of it. The Gilpin gouge really captured my imagination though - it looks and feels wonderful and it is at least 40 years old (and I suspect twice that but it could much more) - of the two, it is also the tool I will likely use most. They are both by good makers with a long history of toolmaking, I have every confidence in them. They both responded very well to sharpening too.

*I work with a chap who is himself a vintage Marples and he originally comes from the Sheffield area.

**I would have liked to get my son carving too but I am new to this myself and I still cut myself too often, so I don't feel willing or able to show him. He has his own interests anyway. However, I am planning to show him some of the basics of sharpening that I have picked up recently - I figure that's a (somewhat safer) skill that he can usefully learn and have with him for the rest of his life.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby jrccaim » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:06 am

ToneWood wrote:Lately I've come across some initially baffling and seemingly archaic terminology used in the world of gouges and chisels. I think I understand them now but I'll let you judge that:


Your understanding looks 100% correct to me. A few clarifications. In the UK a "registered" chisel is one meant to be struck with great force. Hence, it has a washer, usually leather, between the handle and the blade. This keeps the blade from splitting the handle. Or reduces the probability, anyway. It will also have a hoop or ferrule on the butt. to keep the mallet from ruining the handle. Why this is called "registered" is beyond me. Some custom tool makers in the US use the term too.

A mortice, or mortise, chisel is meant to chop mortices. When you chop a mortice you use the chisel cross-grain, so it is not so much narrow as thick. You have to hit the thing with a mallet. Mortice chisels are untapered (otherwise you would have a tapered mortice), while paring chisels may be tapered. Funny you should bring this up because I was using a 19mm Sorby mortice chisel today. It is also "registered," i.e. washered. The rule for mortice chisels is that the width of the blade is exactly the width of the mortice. Anything less, a great deal of work. Anything wider ruins the mortice. Personal bitter experience. If you have a chisel the width of the mortice, you can chop it with no other tool but a mallet. These days I prefer to drill out first and then chop off the corners. Then I pare the sides.

Never heard the term "pig-sticker." Looks like a stubby mortice chisel. Again, the length of your chisel depends on how deep a mortice you want to cut.

Anything labeled "paring" is not meant to be hit with a mallet. It is meant to be used by hand pressure alone. Japanese paring chisels and gouges have iron hoops on the butt, in case you forget this and hit it anyway :) Very nice of them, say I.

I use gouges a lot. I have only used "out-cannel gouges." Mostly I use carpenter's gouges. For some things I have found the factory bevels all wrong, but that is off-topic. I use Japanese gouges if I can, and find the hoop on the butt a great help, because I can safely tap it with a mallet. Even if it is a paring gouge.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby Ian S » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:51 am

jrccaim wrote:In the UK a "registered" chisel is one meant to be struck with great force.


Not quite my understanding. I understand that a registered chisel has sides which are 90 degrees to the back, so it 'registers' in a cut. Registered chisels are referred to to as either registered mortise chisels or registered firmer chisels, and I prefer the latter name. They are heavier duty than a bevel edge or a (normal) firmer chisel, but not as heavy duty as a full on mortise chisel.

Mortice chisels are untapered (otherwise you would have a tapered mortice)


Not quite. A lot of mortise chisels (and I have two modern European ones by Narex, and a stack of old English ones) are tapered from the cutting edge down to the handle, and from the back of the blade to front, so the blade section is trapeziodal. All to do with giving you clearance behind the cutting edge so the tool doesn't get wedged in a deep mortise.

Never heard the term "pig-sticker." Looks like a stubby mortice chisel.


Pig sticker is a lovely nickname (due in part to the side view of the chisel almost looking like a cartoon drawing of a knife) for the English pattern mortise chisel, which is sometimes referred to as an Oval Bolstered Mortise Chisel. They're seriously heavy duty. You might have seen old, well used ones which can be short, but I have two Marples ones which I am fairly sure are unused, and the blades are about 7 inches, 18 cm long (and this for a 1/4 inch, 6mm and 5/16 inch, 8mm edge).

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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby ToneWood » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:00 pm

Not only is chisels a big subject, just mortice chisels alone are! I just looked up "Oval Bolstered Mortise Chisel" (OBMC)/pig-sticker, I've seen a few of these and they look old. I'm surprised to read that these are "seriously heavy duty". I saw a very nice old one but figured that, even though the metal work indeed looks very sturdy, it had an unprotected wooden handle and so was not intended for use with a mallet. Indeed I have seen several offered with their handles missing.
http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolRestor ... hisel.html
Image

Do you prefer your modern mortice chisels, Ian - or is it a matter of "horses for courses"? BTW What do you use them for, door/windows/...?

I came across a couple of mortice axes recently (one for sale on ebay, the other in an on-line book). I wondered why an axe would sometimes be necessary. However, the one on ebay was described as "a hurdle maker's axe" - and I guess a hurdle maker would need to make a lot of large mortices in vertical posts, for the hurdle's cross bars.

jrccaim wrote:
ToneWood wrote:...For some things I have found the factory bevels all wrong, but that is off-topic. ...
Feel free to expand on this, I'm interested. I see Jogge mentions that a bowl-adze (essentially a very large gouge) bevel should not have a distinct shoulder. I was planning to read up on gouge & chisel sharpening this week but just haven't got round to to it yet. I sharpened a plane & spoke shave iron last week; the articles I read on that suggest putting a secondary bevel on plane irons - but one article made clear that this should not be done to chisels.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby Ian S » Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:13 pm

ToneWood wrote:I just looked up "Oval Bolstered Mortise Chisel" (OBMC)/pig-sticker, I've seen a few of these and they look old. I'm surprised to read that these are "seriously heavy duty". I saw a very nice old one but figured that, even though the metal work indeed looks very sturdy, it had an unprotected wooden handle and so was not intended for use with a mallet. Indeed I have seen several offered with their handles missing.


They're the sort of tools which were used professionally for decades to cut mortises for furniture right up to timber framing (I have two 3/4 inch/19mm jobs, and they are massive), and they were definitely used with mallets. How else do you intend cutting mortises in oak? To give you some idea of what we're talking about, here are some measurements:

Un-named ex-War Department 3/4 inch

Overall length 14 inches/355mm
Handle dimensions - 6 inch/150mm X 2 5/8 inch/65mm X 1 3/4 inch/44mm
Weight - 1lb 11 oz/750 g

Marples 5/16 inch

Overall length - 13 1/4 inches/335 mm
Handle dimensions - 5 3/4 inches/145mm X 2inches/50mm X 1 5/8 inches/41mm
Weight - 12 oz/340g

My modern Narex 8mm mortise chisel is about half that weight.

Yeah, you see them on Ebay as tangs only because the original handle is bust. Make a new handle....like the old timers would have done as and when they smashed a handle.

See here for a review of the modern manufacture English mortise chisels:

http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/cSchwarz/z_art/mortChisel/mortChis1.asp

Posed photo, but as he says in the article 'After a month of use (and a little abuse thrown in for good measure), I feel no trepidation about wailing on these.'

Do you prefer your modern mortice chisels, Ian - or is it a matter of "horses for courses"? BTW What do you use them for, door/windows/...?


I bought the new ones as loaners and so that I wouldn't cry if I smashed an old one up or lost it. Haven't had a chance to use them, but they will be used for various things, including making pole lathes, shavehorses and a bit of furniture making. They ain't going to be used for lightweight work - that's what my bevel edge chisels are for.

I came across a couple of mortice axes recently (one for sale on ebay, the other in an on-line book). I wondered why an axe would sometimes be necessary. However, the one on ebay was described as "a hurdle maker's axe" - and I guess a hurdle maker would need to make a lot of large mortices in vertical posts, for the hurdle's cross bars.


Mortise axes appear to be a Swedish thing, and they're used for timber framing. There is a German equivalent, the Stossaxt, a French equivalent, the Bisaigue and the English equivalent, the Twybil (search on the forum for more info). The latter three appear to be variants on a heavy chisel, and all four appear to be used as heavy duty paring tools. A Swedish mortise axe doesn't appear to be swung like a conventional axe.

I sharpened a plane & spoke shave iron last week; the articles I read on that suggest putting a secondary bevel on plane irons - but one article made clear that this should not be done to chisels.


In the English tradition, planes and chisels are sharpened with a secondary bevel. The classic angles are 25 degree grind, 30 degree hone. In the Japanese tradition, the same tools are sharpened to a single bevel.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby Bob_Fleet » Fri May 18, 2012 7:56 pm

It's with sadness that I have to let you know that the previous post was Ian's last.
He died at home last week.

Although a lot of you might not have met him you'll have known him well from his posts in this forum.
It's typical that he had most posts in the 'new members' post where he'd often welcome a new member and his most active forum was 'tools' - this one.

He ran our green woodworking section at Wooplaw and was preparing for our greenwood weekend where a lot of people will miss him.
He introduced a regular session at our monthly event and sent out a regular e-mail to the group letting them know what was happening.

He was at Wooplaw last month helping make the new picnic bench at Axehead pond. Ian enjoyed cutting out the half joints with sharp tools.
Here he is with his signature bag of tools at the table once installed. Ian's on the right.
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His funeral is in Edinburgh on Tuesday 22nd. PM me for details.

He'll be missed by us
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby HughSpencer » Fri May 18, 2012 8:43 pm

Condolences to those that knew him and his family. We have lost a good contributor he made 371 posts since February 2009.
Goodbye Iain and thank you for all that you contributed to this world.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby ToneWood » Sat May 19, 2012 8:58 am

I'm so sorry to read that. Ian was very generous in helping me to get started just this year - he understood exactly what I was asking and why, and was able to tell me exactly what I need to know, I found his help and opinions invaluable. I think I tried his patience on a couple of occasions (my fault not his) but he always "came up with the goods" and helped keep me on track. I am grateful for his help and I will certainly miss him. My condolences to his family and friends.
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Re: Gouge & Chisel terminology

Postby paul atkin » Sat May 19, 2012 1:24 pm

Sorry to read this, Ian was a great contributor to this forum and helped many folks. His posts will be here for ever for folks to read. I will raise a glass tonight in his memory.
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