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:

Evapo-Rust

Brownell’s TCE Cleaner/Degreaser

Brownell’s Oxpho-Blue

Stock and Stain Filler

Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil

I hope you enjoyed the latest video and if I’ve helped you refurbish an old chisel please feel free to let me know!

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