A chisel is a cutting tool with a sharpened edge at the end of a metal blade. It is often used in conjunction with a mallet or hammer to dress, shape or work solid materials including wood, stone or metal. Chisels (made of flint) were first used as far back as 8000 BC; the Egyptians used copper and later bronze chisels to work both wood and soft stone. Chisels today are made of steel, with varying sizes and degrees of hardness, to suit the particular use.
A chisel is a tool with a characteristically shaped cutting edge (such that wood chisels have lent part of their name to a particular grind) of blade on its end, for carving or cutting a hard material such as wood, stone, or metal by hand, struck with a mallet, or mechanical power. The handle and blade of some types of chisel are made of metal or wood with a sharp edge in it.
In use, the chisel is forced into the material to cut it. The driving force may be manually applied or applied using a mallet or hammer. In industrial use, a hydraulic ram or falling weight ('trip hammer') drives the chisel into the material to be cut.
A gouge, one type of chisel, is used, particularly in woodworking, woodturning and sculpture, to carve small pieces from the material. Gouges are most often used in creating concave surfaces. A gouge typically has a 'U'-shaped cross-section.
USE - Chisels have a wide variety of uses. Many types of chisel have been devised, each specially suited to its intended use. Different types of chisel may be constructed quite differently, in terms of blade width or length, as well as shape and hardness of blade. They may have a wooden or plastic handle attached using a tang or socket, or may be made entirely of one piece of metal.
WOODWORKING - Woodworking chisels range from small hand tools for tiny details, to large chisels used to remove big sections of wood, in 'roughing out' the shape of a pattern or design. Typically, in woodcarving, one starts with a larger tool, and gradually progresses to smaller tools to finish the detail. One of the largest types of chisel is the slick, used in timber frame construction and wooden shipbuilding. There are many types of woodworking chisels used for specific purposes
LATHE TOOLS - A lathe tool is a woodworking chisel designed to cut wood as it is spun on a lathe. These tools have longer handles for more leverage, needed to counteract the tendency of the tool to react to the downward force of the spinning wood being cut or carved. In addition, the angle and method of sharpening is different; a secondary bevel would not be ground on the tool.
STONE - Stone chisels are used to carve or cut stone, bricks or concrete slabs. To cut, as opposed to carve, a brick bolster is used; this has a wide, flat blade that is tapped along the cut line to produce a groove, then hit hard in the centre to crack the stone. Sculptors use a spoon chisel, which is bent, with the bezel (cutting edge) on both sides. To increase the force, stone chisels are often hit with club hammers, a heavier type of hammer.
GOUGE - A modern gouge is similar to a chisel except its blade edge is not flat, but instead is curved or angled in cross-section. The modern version is generally hafted inline, the blade and handle typically having the same long axis. If the angle of the plane of the blade is on the outer surface of the curve the gouge is called an 'incannel' gouge, otherwise it is known as an 'outcannel' gouge. Gouges with angled rather than curved blades are often called 'V-gouges' or 'vee-parting tools'. Variations include 'crank-neck' gouges, 'spoon-bent' gouges, etc. Gouges are used in wood working and arts. For example, a violin luthier will use a gouge to carve the violin, a craftsman may use it to scoop out wood for a project, or an artist may produce a piece of art by cutting some bits out of a sheet of linoleum.