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What’s The Best Chisel Set For Woodworking Beginners?

What is the best chisel set for woodworking beginners?

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Buying a high-quality chisel set for woodworking is an investment in your success. Beginner woodworkers are well-advised to pick up a set sooner rather than later. Because, without at least one decent wood chisel, basic woodworking joints, or making any kind of furniture is challenging, to say the least. The good news is a good quality wooden chisel will last you many MANY years if cared for properly.

If you’re in a hurry, please check out these woodworking chisel sets!

These Are Our Top Chisel Picks

Mortise Chisels


Bench Chisels


Paring Chisels


Let’s Find YOUR Chisel Set For Woodworking!

If you’re going to make furniture or wood carving, you have got to get a well-functioning set of wood chisels. But when you’re new it’s hard to tell them apart much less know which set is best for your projects. It’s also very easy to overspend on the wrong woodworking chisels.

That is where we come in. We’ll show you how to prevent this and get the best wood chisels for your money. Read on and check them out. All these chisels were chosen for their outstanding quality, razor-sharp edge, and consistent performance.

Types of Wood Chisels

You won’t be surprised to learn there are different wood chiel types. The three main types are bench chisels, mortise chisels, and Paring Chisels. Naturally, each of these tools is designed to handle a specific type of woodworking task.

Now before our fellow WOOD NERDS start hollering (yes, you know who you are and don’t deny it, you were getting ready to holler) that we’re leaving out Japanese chisels and carving chisels we promise we’ll cover them in detail in just a minute.

But first, we’re going to talk a bit about “Beginner Chisels” and the most common types of wood chisel new woodworkers are likely to need for their wood projects.

Bench Chisels

This shows the difference between a bevel and registered chisel.

Of all the wood chisel types, bench chisels are the most common. And it’s safe to say you can think of them as “Beginner Chisels” though you’ll use them all your woodworking life.

In fact, they get their name because they are so multi-functional and can be used for so many different purposes they are often one of those woodworking tools left out on your workbench.

Hence their name “Bench Chisels”!

Bevel-edged bench chisels are the most common type of beginner chisel because the beveled edge shape makes it easier to work the sides or “sidewalls” of different joints. Also, many folks feel it gives a better overall balance to the chisel.

The straight-edge bench chisels are technically called “registered chisels or firmer chisels”. Its shaft is much heavier and thicker than its beveled counterpart making it a very sturdy carving chisel. In fact, these tools are best for carving out large areas of wood.

The most useful bench chisels set will have sizes between ¼ inch and 1 inch but both types come in sizes between 1/16 inch to 3 inches.

What Are Bench Chisels Used For?

As we’ve already discussed, bench chisels are the workhorse of the chisel world. They will handle pretty much any chopping task you throw their way. From intricate wood joints like dovetail joints to cleaning bark off a log. Of course, that assumes you have purchased a quality set and use them properly with a wood mallet and not a metal hammer.

Best Bench Chisel Set

This is lovely picture of the best chisel set for woodworking.

Narex Richter Czech Steel Premium 4 pc Set True Imperial 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 Inch Bench Cabinetmaker Chisels w/Hornbeam Wood Handle

Here is a lovely set of bevel edge chisels. It earned the Author’s Choice for “Best Value” in the western style bench chisel category from Fine Woodworking in 2008. You won’t have to worry about the blades because they are made from fine-grained, nicely tempered chrome-manganese steel and hardened to Rc 59!

Each one has a beautiful brass ferrule reinforcing the place where the chisel blade is attached to its handle. Decorative and functional!

It doesn’t take long to get this chisel set project ready. You only need to spend an hour or so cleaning the protective lacquer off and bringing them to a razor edge. As with all wood chisels these are designed to be used with a woodworking mallet.

For budget-conscious new woodworkers or even the advanced woodworker here, this set is a STEAL! You are getting FOUR quality chisels for the price of ONE.

What We Like:


  • High-quality tools made in the Czech Republic.
  • The steel blade has excellent edge retention.
  • Well balanced and comfortable to handle.
  • Can be sharpened to a very fine edge.
  • Ideal for woodworking projects.

What We Don’t Like:


  • The handles are completely round so they are prone to rolling off your bench.
  • Some Chisels in the set need a bit more flattening than others.

Economy Bench Chisel Set

The affordable best chisel set for woodworking.

VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking with Honing Guide, Sharpening Stone, and Wooden Storage Case

The VonHaus 10pc Chisel Set is great for cutting and shaping wood and includes a wide selection of tools that are suitable for both simple and complex tasks.

The high-quality chromium-vanadium carbon steel blades of this quality tool have been heat-treated for increased strength and durability.

Metal strike caps are included on all chisels, allowing them to be used with a hammer. Usually, we prefer wooden chisel handles but the rubberized ergonomic grip handles on this set provide some helpful comfort that we think is worth a try.

What We Like:


  • Takes and holds an edge very well, especially at this price point.
  • Rounded rectangle handle feels good in your hand and the chisel won’t roll off your workbench.
  • Rubberized coating gives you a good grip.
  • Metal strike caps means you can use them with a metal hammer instead of a mallet (newbie friendly).
  • Honing guide and sharpening water stone is included with the chisel kit.

What We Don’t Like:


  • Out of the box they need a bit of work to get them sharp and flat.
  • The carrying case is not the same high quality as the chisels.

Mortise Chisels

A closeup image of a mortise chisel.

As the name suggests mortise chisels are for making mortise joints. The strong mallet blows required to cut out a mortise are too much for traditional bench chisels to handle. A mortise chisel, on the other hand, is made expressly for mortising, with its large blade and strengthened handle. You can think of one of these as a really heavy-duty carving chisel.

Mortise chisels need to be able to carve out deep mortises in even the stoutest hardwood. Because of this, they are a beefy chisel. Even the smaller “sash mortise chisels”, designed for more intricate and delicate mortise work, are quite substantial compared to your ordinary bench chisel.

Not sure what a “Mortise” or “Mortise Joint” is? Help is right here >>> “Different Types Of Wood Joints & Their Uses”

Best Mortise Chisel Set

This is a set of mortise chisels for woodworking.

4 Piece Mortise Chisel Set by Narex Richter

A small tool company of tool makers in the Czech Republic produces this four-piece mortise chisel set, which is of remarkable quality. The blades are composed of Rc 59 hardened fine-grained, finely tempered chrome-manganese steel.

The blades hold a superb edge and are easy to sharpen. And the blades have been precisely ground. They will need to be sharpened before use, just like any other edge tool.

Also, notice the beautiful wooden handles with double steel ferrules? The price on these is shockingly low for such a high-quality woodworking chisel.

What We Like:


  • Stained beech handles.
  • Good selection of blade sizes.
  • 12 inches long for making deep mortices.
  • Steel ferrules for extra strength.

What We Don’t Like:


  • Wish they were imperial sizes instead of metric.

Economy Mortise Chisel Set

This is a more affordable set of mortise chisels for woodworking.

3 Piece Steel Mortise Chisels by Narex Richter

A small tool company in the Czech Republic produces this three-piece mortise chisel set, which is of remarkable quality. The blades are composed of Rc 59 hardened fine-grained, finely tempered chrome-manganese steel.

These blades hold a superb edge and are easy to sharpen. The blades have been precisely ground. They will need to be sharpened before use, just like any other edge tool. These mortise chisels offer great value for new woodworkers and experienced pros alike.

What We Like:


  • STURDY European beechwood handles.
  • Very thick blades.
  • Holds and edge well.
  • Sharper edge is easy to keep.

What We Don’t Like:


  • Not packaged as tightly as they could be.
  • Takes a bit of time to get them sharp.

Paring Chisels

Here you can see someone using a paring chisel, which is used for more intricate work.

In finish carpentry, paring chisels are used to cut smaller and more intricate joints, whereas mortise chisels are used to make larger joints. This type of woodworking chisel has a long, narrow blade that is designed to fit into small tight spaces.

Don’t use a mallet or hammer with your paring chisels. You should just utilize the force of your hand (and body) to provide the cutting power because they make such precise cuts. This will keep you from applying too much pressure and removing too much material.

Best Paring Chisel Set

This is a picture of pair of paring chisels.

Narex Richter Pair Right & Left 6 mm (1/4 Inch) Skew Paring Chisels in Wooden Presentation Box

AMAZING QUALITY FOR THE MONEY! They only take about 20 minutes to initialize when using diamond stones and a strop. Long handles balance nicely while sharpening and stropping. They hold their edge well. Blades are 1/4” or 6 mm wide by 4 ¾” long. The overall length of these chisels is 10 inches.

What We Like:


  • Wood presentation box makes a great gifts for woodworkers.
  • Has bother right and left skew chisels.
  • Has a 25-degree and 30-degree skew.
  • Beautiful European hornbeam handles.

What We Don’t Like:


  • We wish they came in a bend shank variety as well.

Bent Shank Paring Chisel Set

These are bent shank paring chisels.  This is another chisel set for woodworking.

Buck Brothers Bent Shank Paring Chisels

If you want to try out a paring chisel set and don’t want to spend a fortune this is the perfect set! The handles are made of hard ash, which is very strong and durable. The handles fit comfortably in your hand and are easy to hold while cutting. The bent shanks move the handles up and away from the surface, making it easier to shave away your unwanted wood.

What We Like:


  • Made in the USA.
  • 3 piece set.
  • Easy to hone.
  • Cut smoothly and accurately.

What We Don’t Like:


  • The handles are larger than you expect from the image.

Wood Turning Chisels (or Gouges)

You can see someone using a chisel with a wood lathe.
photo credit

A turning chisel or gouge is just a chisel with the cutting edge curved. Gouges are meant to carve grooves in wood without the tool’s corners biting into it. There are a few reasons why this is insanely useful.

  • Gouges swiftly remove unwanted wood, especially from flat surfaces where a flat chisel’s corners would dig in and get trapped.
  • Stop-cutting around spherical objects is also possible.
  • Finally, gouges make accurate grooves and trenches possible.

Best Wood Turning Chisel Set

This is the best chisel set for woodturning.

IMOTECHOM 8-Pieces HSS Wood Turning Tools Lathe Chisel Set with Walnut Handle and Wooden Storage Case

These beautiful chisels are machine sharpened so they are ready to use right out of the box. They are made of high carbon steel and can be easily used on high-speed lathes and still give you years and years of use.

This set includes a comprehensive range of sizes and the beautiful handles are rock-hard walnut. Just give them a clean, to remove the rust-resistant coating, and they are good to go.

What We Like:


  • Ships anywhere in the world.
  • Beautiful wood carrying case. (Makes a great gift for a woodworker)
  • Well balanced.
  • Sharp right out of the box.
  • Holds their edge well.

What We Don’t Like:


  • Finish on the handles could be better.
  • No rough gouge.

Economy Wood Turning Chisel Set

The best economy chisel set for woodturning.

Benjamins Best Woodworking Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel Set

This set of turning gouges or chisels is an amazing value for the money. If you are wanting to turn things like pepper mills, pens, bowls, or spindles you are in for a treat. This set is great for all kinds of wood-turning projects. And at this price, a wonderful entry-level chisel set for new woodworkers who want to give woodturning a try.

What We Like:


  • Excellent price.
  • Good for all skill levels.
  • Sharp out of the box.
  • Great entry level tools.

What We Don’t Like:


  • Needs frequent “touch-up” sharpening.
  • Handles are a little small.

Japanese Style Chisels

A beautiful array of Japanese chisels laid out for you to see.

As promised NOW we’re gonna talk about Japanese chisels! Folks in the woodworking community have been arguing over whether Japanese chisels or western chisels are better for YEARS!

The basis of the disagreement is in how the blades are made. The key difference is in the type of steel used to make the blades. Vanadium or regular steel for Western chisels and super hard high-carbon steel with added tungsten for the Japanese chisels.

There are pros and cons to each.

  • Softer steel sharpens easier and faster but dulls faster too.
  • Harder steel takes a LONG time to sharpen but stays sharp once you get it there.

From our point of view, this makes Japanese chisels a good choice for those times when you need to do a lot of mallet work. They may be harder honing but you won’t need to stop nearly as often to refresh your edge.

You should also note that Japanese chisels have all the common blade types but they are shorter and the handles are rounder than Western chisels tend to be. For our part, we’re not sure what all the fuss is about. We don’t think these are critical differences. You either like one type or the other better.

The bottom line, Japanese chisels get the job done for the folks who enjoy using them.

Best Japanese Chisel Set

This is the best Japanese chisel set for woodworking.

Yataro Authentic Japanese Chisel Set (5 Piece)

These lovely chisels are hand-forged in Japan out of laminated Japanese high-carbon steel to an HRC63 hardness. The single-hollow ground back means they are easier to work with than flat chisels. That’s because there’s less contact area with your woodwork and therefore less friction.

They feature lovely Japanese Red Oak handles that are well balanced and factory fitted with heavy-duty steel rings.

What We Like:


  • Holds their edge well.
  • Ready to use right out of the box.
  • Beautiful design.

What We Don’t Like:


  • Plastic insert in the storage box is
    flimsy.

Economy Japanese Chisel Set

This is the economy Japanese Chisel set.

KAKURI Japanese Wood Chisel Set. Long Handle Oire Nomi for Woodworking

This is a great set of starter Japanese chisels. At this low price point, you can afford to experiment and see if they will be a good addition to your woodshop. Razor-sharp pretty much right out of the box. Like all chisels, you’ll need to give them a wipe with some acetone and a quick honing on your whetstone. Do not use a bench grinder on these chisels.

What We Like:


  • Hard plastic blade covers.
  • Great for fine detail work.
  • The handle is longer than standard Japanese chisels, making it better for people with large hands.
  • Comes with English instructions on how to clean, sharpen and set up chisels.

What We Don’t Like:


  • Can’t recommend them for hard work.

Chisel Accessories

A chisel rack!

No discussion of the best chisel set for woodworking beginners would be complete without talking about what you need to actually USE your new chisels! First, you need something to get them sharp and keep them sharp.

Then you need a mallet to use them effectively and not damage them.

Building some chisel racks for your workbench is a good idea, too. Chisel racks are a pretty easy project for new woodworkers and will help keep your workspace orderly. Check out these inexpensive plans.

You might also consider a magnetic tool holder to keep your chisels handy and where you can reach them easily.

Best Chisel Sharpening Kit

Whetstones to sharpen your chisels.

Diamond Whetstones In A Hardwood Box

Hands down the sharpest blades are going to come from using a diamond whetstone. The trick to getting good results with a sharpening stone like this is to let the diamonds do the work. Just lightly stroke your chisels (or knives) across the surface 5 or six times starting with the coarse stone, then the medium one, and finally the fine grit stone.

Something we like about these particular sharpening stones is they are designed to be used either dry or with water. NOT OIL! This means there’s not a lot of mess to clean up.

What We Like:


  • No oil is needed.
  • The wooden carrying case keeps them from getting lost in the shop. (Also makes for a lovely gift.)
  • Color-coded grit level means no squinting to see which stone is which.
  • “Polka Dot” channels keep stones from becoming clogged with debris.

What We Don’t Like:


  • The box lid just sits on top with no way to latch it.
  • They are a little narrow for sharpening most wood planes, so you’ll have to sharpen those on an angle.
  • Does not come with a honing guide.

Economy Chisel Sharpening Kit

A whole sharpening kit to hone your chisels.

Complete Knife Sharpening Stone Set – Goodjob

What we love about this kit is how complete it is. It has two double-sided whetstones, an adjustable honing guide, leather strope, polishing compound, non-skid bamboo base for the stones, and a cut-resistant glove to protect your hand. It is a complete professional sharpening kit at an unbeatable price.

What We Like:


  • How complete this kit is.
  • Comes with a honing guide for chisels.
  • Rubber bottom to the bamboo base keeps it from slipping during use.

What We Don’t Like:


  • There is no storage box or case.

What To Consider Before Buying Wood Chisels

Blade Material

Chrome Vanadium Steel Alloy vs Chrome-Manganese Steel

When properly made and hardened there is very little chemical or actual difference between these two types of high carbon steel. Both were developed for making high-impact hand tools like chisels. So if you are comparing a 1-In Chrome Vanadium Steel Blade with a 1-In Chrome Manganese Steel blade, don’t worry about the steel. It is pretty much interchangeable.

We’ve had this question a few times so we’re going to say it again. Heat-treated vanadium steel holds an edge and takes an impact just as well as chromium-manganese steel.

For those of you who’d like to nerd out more on this topic our friends over at “Working The Flame” have put together an excellent piece on types of steel here.

Chisel Sizes: What size chisels should I buy?

The chisel sizes you need will depend a great deal on the type of woodworking projects you plan to build. For example blade size matters because there is a great deal of difference between what you can do with 1-in chisels and a 1/8-inch chisel. If you are cleaning up detail cuts on a violin you’d rather have a smaller, more delicate chisel than you’d want for cutting a mortise.

Brands Of Chisel Sets

Lie-Nielsen chisels, Irwin Marples, Narex, Stanley…

These are all amazing chisels but much ado is made out of this brand or that brand woodworking tools. Especially those with a hand tool collection for woodworkers. Is there a difference in quality and performance?

We are fairly sure this is going to get us into some hot water with some of our fellow wood nerds but… No, not enough to pay the PREMIUM PRICE many of them charge when you are a new woodworker just getting started.

Are Lie-Nielsen tools both high quality and lovely. YES! Yes, they are. And we want a full set of them but they are NOT worth the price for someone just starting out.

What a new woodworker needs is a set of chisels that combine quality with affordability. That is the criteria we used for presenting the buying options we offer.

If you feel differently we are happy to hear you out. Drop us a line. You never know. You may convince us otherwise.

Antique Chisels

Lots of new woodworkers have questions about antique wood chisels. Things like “Can I use them?” or “Are they better than buying new?”

In a nutshell, YES! Absolutely you can use vintage or antique chisels if you can get your hands on them. Let’s face it, when it comes to basic hand woodworking tools our grandfathers really knew what they were doing.

Now, you’ll have to use your judgment on these. The usefulness of individual tools will vary. And you’ll need to do a lot of cleanup and sharpening, etc. They may also need a new wooden handle but…

HEY, YOU ARE A WOODWORKER! Am I right?

FAQ

What is a wood chisel?

A wood chisel is essentially a sharpened piece of angled steel with a wooden handle. Woodworking chisels are used in a variety of ways while constructing wood joints and wood carving.

Wood Chisel Handles Socket Chisels vs Tang Chisels.

Depending on how the blade’s base, also called a ‘shank’, is fastened to the handle, chisels are classified as either’ socket’ or ‘tang’. A socket chisel features a cupped indentation, or ‘socket’, on the shank that fits into a cone-shaped projection from the handle. A tang chisel, on the other hand, has a pointed shank called a ‘tang’ that is sunk down into the wooden handle.

Because socket chisels are more durable than tang chisels, they are usually more expensive. Tang-types are less resistant to conventional mallet beatings because, if you hit them hard enough or with a hammer instead of a mallet, they can serve as a wedge and fracture or split the hardwood handle.

As a result, socket chisels are more common than tang chisels, and they’re a good choice for getting the most life out of your tool, especially when you are a new woodworker. Tang kinds, on the other hand, can live a long life if you USE A WOODEN MALLET and NOT A HAMMER with them.

What are chisels used for in woodworking?

Chisels are used to remove bits of material, in this case, wood, from a larger piece of work. For example, they are used to clean up cut edges, gouge out mortices, cut fancy joints like dovetail joints as well as shaving rough surfaces before sanding, chopping out corners, and even scraping off paint or glue.

What type of mallet can I use for wood chisels?

You’ll want a wooden woodworking mallet for working with your chisels. Never, EVER, use a metal hammer with your wood chisels.

How do you store wooden chisels?

Always store your wooden chisels in an accessible but out-of-the-way place like a closed tool chest. A chisel rack is a handy way to keep them within reach and still prevent accidents (See above for a pattern to make your own chisel rack). If you need your chisels on the go, a portable chisel roll is a good option.

How Do You Sharpen a Wood Chisel?

We get it, you spend all this money on these products and now you want to get to using them. Watch this short video that will show you step-by-step how to sharpen your new woodworking chisel.

Finally, remember: Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Try different types of chisels until you find one that works best for you. We want you to make AMAZING wood crafts the first time and stay on budget. That’s why we’ve put together this article on the best chisel set for woodworking beginners.

And don’t forget to share what you learn about woodworking tools with us by dropping us a line here. We love hearing from our readers!

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