Bit Braces

Swan Chisels


Working with Hands - James E. Price

  Rake Tines and Chisels  

There was a discussion concerning the merits of horsedrawn hay rake tines as raw material for making woodworking tools.


Tonight's photos show a swan-neck morticing chisel I forged out of an old rake tine.

I made this tool in 1974 using a small farrier's forge set up in my backyard and forged it on my great grandfather's anvil. It is 16-1/2 inches long and made to clean out the bottom and corners of blind mortices.

I couldn't afford a manufactured tool of this type then but after using a couple of them later, I much prefer the one I made. It's length provides plenty of leverage that manufactured ones do not.

If you decide to make one of these, pay close attention to the shape of the cutting head on this one in the photos. It has to be.close to that shape with a curved heel to slide against a mortice wall and cut the bottom flat into the corners.

The little wooden faceted rear knob fits into a conical ferrule I forged flat and rolled into shape. The wood used to make the knob is dogwood. This tool has been used lots in the last few years to shape the mortices in the uprights of turning saws my students make for their unplugged tool kits.

This chisel has been used to cut the mortices in lots of turning saws. This is a photo of me, on the left, and Terry Wyatt, one if my students, holding a turning saw which is near completion. The mortices are in the uprights where the crossbar joins them.

James E. Price
January, 2016

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