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Woodworking Tool News - Veritas Bench Chisels



Veritas Bench Chisels

By Brad Holden

A bench chisel is probably the only type of chisel most woodworkers require. It’s used to pare dovetails, chop mortises and for every job in between.

Some bench chisels are definitely a cut above the rest. Here’s a new entry in the high-end class from Lee Valley, makers of Veritas tools. The new Veritas chisels are comparable to Lie-Nielsen and Stanley Sweetheart chisels; they’re a bit pricey, but you’ll never need another set.

The back of a chisel must be absolutely fl at for accurate paring. Fresh out of the package, most chisels aren’t fl at enough for my taste, so I expect to spend up to an hour to lap the back of each one. Not so with the Veritas chisels. Their backs are so flat that you’ll be done in no time, a huge saving in time and frustration if you’re working on a complete set.

The blades are made from O1 steel (Rc 58-60). Lee Valley also carries plane blades made from harder A2 steel (Rc 60-62), but chose O1 for these chisels so they will be easier to sharpen. That’s good news for those of you who sharpen on sandpaper, which cuts slower than ceramic or diamond stones.

The sides of the Veritas chisels taper right down to a point. Fully tapered sides allow you to sharpen Veritas, Lie-Nielsen and Sweetheart chisels using an inexpensive side-clamping honing jig. Ironically, many less expensive chisels won’t fi t in the jig because their sides are too square.

Tapered sides that come down to a point are ideal for cleaning out the corners of dovetails. The sides of Lie-Nielsen and Sweetheart chisels don’t quite come to a point, but they’re close. Awhile ago, I carefully ground the sides of my Lie-Nielsens and Sweethearts to come to a point, but it takes a steady hand. The Veritas chisels are ready to go.

The maple handles of the Veritas chisels have shallow flats to quickly register the tool in your hand and help prevent it from rolling off your bench. I love that!

Veritas bench chisels come in five sizes: 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 3/4" and 1". The 1/4" and 3/8" sizes have a 30° bevel, while the other sizes have a 25° bevel. This puzzled me, but an engineer at Lee Valley said, “Narrower edges are subject to a greater concentration of force when driven by a mallet,” so their bevel angle should be steeper. All sizes come with a 2° micro bevel and are sharp enough to make shavings right away.



Lee Valley & Veritas,, 800-871-8158, Veritas Bench Chisels, Set of 5, #05S20.50; 1/4", #05S20.04; 3/8", #05S20.06; 1/2", #05S20.08; 3/4", #05S20.12; 1", #05S20.16.