This woodworker wants to know the proper way to use chisels. He gets rough surfaces and tearout and doesn’t think he knows what he’s doing.
Michael Dresdner: Think of how you use a kitchen knife. Even if it is sharp (and I will assume your chisels are sharp), if you simply push down into a loaf of bread or tomato, you’ll get a mess. Instead, you cut most things with a slicing motion. Try that with your chisels. Instead of just pushing forward, try slicing, diagonally to the grain when possible and always with, not against the grain. And, of course, start with sharp tools.
Rob Johnstone: Using a sharp chisel, grab a variety of scraps in different species of wood and start chopping. As long as you are really using a sharp tool, trial and error will teach you what you need to know. Wood does not cut equally well in every direction. Cutting across the grain, with the grain, against the grain – you get the drift. Once you have taken the time to get the feel of each situation, you’ll be slicing away with the best.