How To Use A Wood Chisel To Carve?

Carving wood is an art in itself, one that requires years of practice to perfect. A sharpened wood chisel does have the capability to cut through mortises and even shave off the rough surfaces quite effectively without any restrictions whatsoever. If you are into woodwork, you would know that the wood chisel is nothing but an indispensable part of your tool kit, one that you just can’t do without.

Given that there are several prospects under it that you need to know of, we have listed out some of the basic yet quintessential techniques that will most definitely come a lot in handy for people trying to make their living out of it.

Wood chisel isn’t always the most important tool that basic carpenters whip out but if you want to cut through the sharp hinges and such, it is quite important that you know about the basics of these techniques well to last you a lifetime.

In here, we are going to be sharing some of the basic chiseling tips as well the important precautionary steps associated with the same for you to have a better outlook on the process and the techniques altogether.

Mortise cuts

The most basic yet one of the most important cuts in the lot definitely has to be the mortise cuts. For this type of cut, you can start out by outlining the area with a utility knife. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to that, you can make a few shallow chisel cuts along the line. Once done, you can easily use the chisel to cut through the excess thin slices using a hammer as well.

Make sure that you face the bevel down. Push the chisel to cut through the thin slices. Additionally, you can even control the depth of the same by either raising or even by lowering the handle of the chisel.

Paring cut

The next popular one in the lot has to be the paring cut. This is mainly used to flatten out the bottom of each of the recess. This is also quite popular if the recess on one end has an open side much like that of the hinge mortise.

Using a wood chisel helps to pare thin slices of the wood to flatten out the edges. For ensuring that you cut through seamlessly through the wood, it is important that you keep the back of the chisel flat on the surface of the wood. If required, you can even pivot the chisel as you cut to move the blade of it in the shape of an arc.

Make sure to also hold the back of the bevel tightly to prevent any kind of accidents and to cut through the wood seamlessly.

Chopping cut

The chopping cut is the most rigorous one out of the lot. This process doesn’t require a lot of precision and is predominantly done along the cut side of the wood. All you need to do is place the chisel on the area of the wood that needs cutting and then strikes the same along with the hammer to cut through the excess wood along the notches.

As did mention before, this isn’t a fine work but does require skill for you to cut through the exact amount as required. Start by slicing off small chunks of wood and then move forth with the bigger ones. This helps keep the margin aligned.

Chop and pare

The technique of chop and pare is possibly the most popular of them all and requires the maximum precision and expertise. This is used to cut out dadoes and several of the other precise joints along by doing shallow cuts instead of digging deeper in with the chisel. If you have a rough work with a thicker block of wood, use a hammer or a mallet. If it isn’t so, just stick to using the heel of your palm and gently driving away from the excess cutting process.

Start by outlining the area that needs to be cut and then use the chisel to cut through as per the requirements. It is always best suggested to space out the chisel cuts by at least ½ inch.


The last but not the least in the list of techniques have to be scraping. It might seem like an easy task with no expertise but the same is quite the opposite actually. Woods do come with a lot of imperfections and the scraping process is used to remove those imperfections altogether.

If you are removing thin shavings, all you need to do is hold either end of the blade and then scrape through the wood altogether. Drive the chisel towards you and be gentle through the process as well. The most important thing to ensure in this is that the chisel has a very shape and thin edge to it for easier scraping.

It is important to ensure that the chisel tip should scrape through the entire wood without leaving behind any kind of resistance as such.

Little tips to keep in mind

While we have mentioned through the common cuts using a chisel, it is time we discussed the little tips that one needs to keep in mind while using a chisel for wood carving.

  • Make sure that the chisel is always sharpened with the best products to ensure evenness so it glides along easily
  • Be very careful while using the chisel. If possible, learn how to use it first and fully and then proceed to use it
  • If you are just beginning with the wood chisel, make sure that you learn through the techniques along the way and then perfect your way before you practice the same on the final wood that needs to be chiseled.

Using a wood chisel for carving is very common and effective. If you have been using the same for your work, here are some of the insights into the same. It goes without saying that the process of learning is extensive but the results with the chisel are amazing.

Posted Under: DIY

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