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What is a Paring Chisel?

By Nick Oza
Updated May 17, 2024
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Paring chisels are lightweight chisels that are never malleted. They are primarily used for removing thin shavings of wood when one is fitting joints. The thin blades of paring chisels make them almost flexible. A paring chisel is long in order to give maximum control to the user. In order for a person to use the paring chisel effectively, one hand is used to push the blades from the handle while the other hand guides the cut that the chisel makes.

Paring chisels come in two main types: the conventional straight paring chisel and the cranked paring chisel. Cranked chisels, which are sometimes also known as dogleg chisels, are used primarily to pare the wood by keeping the chisel flat on the surface. With conventional chisels, the handle will get in the way if the cut being made is away from an edge. One of the advantages with cranked paring chisels is that the crank in the handle gives the user the maximum clearance needed. These chisels are used for fitting gun stocks, making them quite popular among gunsmiths.

A fishtail paring chisel is another type of chisel that is used less often than the conventional or the cranked type. The shaft of the fishtail chisel is narrower than the blade. This allows for paring in the most awkward of places.

Another kind of chisel that woodworkers use is the Japanese paring chisel. Similar to Western chisels, the Japanese paring chisels are usually slightly thicker. They are made from laminated steel. The softer iron back is forge-welded with hard steel, yielding a very flexible and very sharp tool.

Other applications of paring chisels include cleaning up carcasses after assembly or whenever large, flat surfaces require paring. Paring chisels are an essential tool for cabinetmakers, carpenters and woodworkers alike. Besides paring and shaving wood, a paring chisel can also be used as a pry bar. By simply inserting one in between two boards, a paring chisel can reach tight-to-fit places into which a typical flat bar might have trouble getting.

Paring chisels also are easy to resharpen. Most retailers and woodworking shops carry them. They can be bought individually or in a complete set, making it easy for one to find the ideal size needed for the job at hand.

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