I’ve been jonesing for a “real” mortise chisel for a long time now. My obstacle, however, has been the irrational cheapskate inside of me. There’s been a lot written about the English “pigsticker” style of mortise chisel lately, and I’ve been trolling ebay for a cheap one or one without a handle. I finally got my hands on a handle-free sample a couple of weeks ago.
Made by W. Butcher, it has a strange width–something like 9/32″. This is close enough to 1/4″, I guess. Its cutting edge is laminated to a softer metal for the rest of the blade.
Unfortunately, it was dubbed at the tip when I got it, and it was a lot of work to flatten the back (I took the dubbing problem from both ends; shortened it slightly and flattened the rest off). You would think something that small would be easier to flatten, but the steel is really quite hard. I used Norton 3X sandpaper on a granite surface plate, grits 80 on up.
After doing this task, I set out to make a new handle per Derek Cohen’s instructions. Putting in the hole for the tang was a real pain in the ass:
The wood is yellow birch. We’ll see if it holds up. Next step is to shape it, then finish sharpening the blade.