Restoring a Vintage Chisel
Chisels are without a doubt the most useful tool in a hand tool woodworking shop (other than your own hands!). Whenever I’m in the shop I always have a chisel either in my hand, or within arms reach. I flop back and forth between new and vintage chisels and don’t really have a preference as long as they’re sharp, so I’m always on the lookout for a good deal. I came across these two massive chisels at a local flea market and picked up both of them for $0.50 – a nice bargain considering the steel was in great shape.
The chisels are marked G.I. Mix and Co and were probably made around 1900-ish. They are both bevel edge socket chisels, one a 2″ and the other 1-1/4″. Neither one came with a handle and the steel was a little dinged up, but absolutely no big deal for a user tool. Here is a video of the process I go through when restoring a chisel – including getting the steel back into shape, turning the handle, and adding finish:
And some glamour shots of the completed project:
If you prefer not to watch the video, my normal restoration process for a chisel goes a little something like this:
- Get rid of the old busted handle (if still attached)
- Hit all the metal with a soft wire wheel on the grinder
- Let them soak for a night in Evapo-Rust
- Rinse them off well and immediately oil, then use the wire wheel again to remove the black oxide rust residue and oil again
- If needed, repair/file the socket
- Rough grind the bevel
- Clean with Mineral Spirits, then TCE (wear gloves!)
- Blue the metal – I do three coats. First coat applied with cotton balls, second applied with a gray scotchbrite pad, third applied with 0000 steel wool, and a final buff with paper towel
- Turn the handle
- Add 1 (or more) coat of stain/filler and buff across the grain after it has dried to a paste (~15 mins)
- When completely dry, apply 4 coats of Tru-Oil, rubbing with 0000 steel wool between coats
- When dry, rub out with 0000 steel wool and paste wax
- Sharpen the chisel blade and get to work!
The products I use during the video are as follows:
I hope you enjoyed the latest video and if I’ve helped you refurbish an old chisel please feel free to let me know!