The corner chisel is another one of your chisels that you might not use every day, but can’t live without.This little workhorse makes some of the most important parts of woodworking possible. Here we are going to look at what a corner chisel is and important aspects of a good one. We’ll also look at a few different corner chisels.
After a quick rundown of the products, I’ll end with some final thoughts.
Corner Chisel Reviews
Remember, there is no holy grail of chisels. What works for someone else might not work for you. But some chisels are better than others in different areas, so once you decide on what’s important, you can make an informed decision. As a side note, I’m not looking at any Japanese style corner chisels here. They are relatively rare and more specialized, so they don’t quite fit into the same category as the standard western corner chisels.
Robert Sorby Corner Chisel 3/8"
This corner chisel from Robert Sorby is an excellent pick for someone who wants a premium corner wood chisel and is willing to pay for it. It is made of high quality steel that has a sharp edge out of the box and maintains it for a long time. It also boasts exceptional hardness.
The handle is well balanced and made from decent quality wood. The brass shock absorber does the job quite well. The blade might be a bit long at 4 ½” for exceptionally delicate work, but it will get the job done most anywhere else.
- Sharp edge that maintains well
- Comfortable and balanced handle
- High quality overall
- Blade might be too long for some work
- Premium price for premium quality
Robert Sorby H7355 Heavy Duty Corner Chisel
If you are looking for something with a bit more heft to it, look no further. Made by the same manufacturer as the previous product, this chisel is a much heavier duty version designed to cut deep mortises. Of course, it is not suited for finer or shallower corners.
The heavy-duty steel has a great edge and keeps it well like its smaller cousin. However, this model has been plagued by some manufacturer defects. The sharpness of the edge comes at a price sometimes. It can cut through its packaging or its carrying case and become damaged. Some of the tempers on this model have also been reported to be faulty, causing the steel to buckle or roll.
- Tough steel and handle great for physically demanding deep corners
- Exceptional edge that maintains well
- High quality overall
- Blade too big and heavy for more precise needs
- Some reported manufacturer defects and damages
- Does not come with a needed protective case or cap
3/8" Corner Cutting Chisel By Peachtree Woodworking
This affordable corner chisel from Peachtree Woodworking is a fine choice for someone who doesn’t use their corner chisel but once in a blue moon. The steel it is made from is not up to the quality standard of other premium brands, but it manages to get the job done. However, if used often and intensely, it likely won’t have a long lifespan.
The handle shares the blade’s level of quality. The wood is comfortable but not very strong. Extended or strenuous use might result in a crack. While not a top-shelf tool, for the price that you will likely pay it is still a helpful tool. A great option for a beginner or someone who doesn’t plan on “cutting corners” much.
- Very affordable
- Comfortable handle
- Middling quality steel that won’t hold up after heavy use
- Handle not as durable as other higher quality chisel; prone to cracks from heavy hits
Narex Corner Chisel 120mm
This model is an excellent all-around corner chisel from the trusted folks at Narex. They make pretty good chisels at prices that won’t break the bank. This corner is no different, as it has a high quality steel blade that, once sharpened, keeps a very fine edge.The blade is also a bit shorter at around 4”, so you might able to do more precise work with it.
- Great all around quality
- Blade is shorter for more fine work
- High quality steel only needs minimal work to top shape
- Steel not the best of class, takes some care to maintain edge and strength
- Not the best for making deep corners
Crown 175CC Corner Cutting Chisel
Another premium chisel handmade by the family-owned Crown Handtools Ltd. This chisel boasts a beautiful and sturdy rosewood handle and brass shock absorber. The steel is good quality, but it doesn’t quite reach the same level as other chisels in its price range. It will likely require some sharpening out of the box.
- Excellent quality handle
- Beautiful aesthetic and design
- Handcrafted attention to detail
- Steel quite good enough for the premium price
- Some sharpening issues
The Corner Chisel: What It Is
A corner chisel is, predictably, shaped like a corner. Usually quite small, the blade is bent at a 90-degree angle. This angle allows it to create a perfect corner in the wood without you having to eyeball it or get out measuring tools.
One of the primary purposes of a corner chisel is to make mortise and tenon joints. These venerable joints have been in use since the stone age! There are many different types of mortises and tenons, but at its most basic a mortise and tenon joint appears to resemble a square peg inserted into a square hole. It is then glued, pinned or wedged into place. An effective way of joining two pieces of wood together.
Corner chisels are also used in the crafting of hinge rebates and many other things. Anywhere you need a corner really! Don’t underestimate this little guy.
What To Look For
Like most chisels, there are a lot of little things to consider when deciding on a particular chisel. Of course, a lot of your choice will come down to what you plan on doing with the chisel and your personal preference, but I have some pointers for you.Woodworking is a precise undertaking, and you want to be sure that your tools fit you as best they can.
The corner chisel’s blade will determine what it is suitable for. Longer blades can, of course, make deeper mortises and corners in general. A shorter blade might help more with work that is more delicate. The closer your hand is to the wood, the more precise you can be.
There are also heavy duty corner chisel models designed to take a beating if need be. Hardness is an important aspect of a corner chisel because of the angle you are attacking the wood at. You’ll generally find yourself hammering the chisel perpendicular to the wood as opposed to shaving at an angle, so you want a sturdy steel. You’re going to want a chisel rated in the high 50s at least, preferably 60s on the Rc hardness scale.
You are also going to want a steel that sharpens easily and keeps its edge. That’s pretty obvious advice for all chisels, but it’s particularly important for the corner variety. Corner chisels are exceptionally difficult to sharpen due to their size. It’s not something you want to do often.
The handle is an often overlooked part of the chisel. It may not do the brunt of the work, but it is vital to your craftsmanship. It needs to be comfortable and ergonomic, without being loose. One would hope that these things come standard, but you’d be surprised at what some manufacturers try to get away with.
Your corner chisel handle should also be able to take a lot of punishment. Of course, not absolutely everyone uses a mallet all of the time with their corner chisel, but it is the norm. Like we talked about before, you will often likely be pounding straight onto a corner chisel instead of tapping at an angle. You’re going to want a handle that has a high tolerance and a shock absorbing washer if possible.
Don’t Cut Corners with Quality
Without a doubt a doubt, grab the heavy-duty Robert Sorby if you plan on doing some serious corner work, it’s best not to try and make do with a chisel that isn’t equipped for the job. For frequent users that need a lighter chisel, the Robert Sorby Corner Chisel 3/8″ is the way to go. It may be a bit pricey, but the quality is well worth it.
The steel, the handle and the handling are all top-notch. Of course, if you’re not looking to make mortises every day, you can afford to take a step down and get a decent chisel for occasional use. The Narex fits this bill quite nicely. It requires a bit of work to keep sharp, but if you don’t use it all that often it shouldn’t be a huge issue and it will perform well when you want it to.