Chisels have been around since ancient times. Even today, perhaps no carpenter, factory worker, sculptor or construction worker can do without these indispensable, little hand tools. If you are a DIY person, a set of chisels can be extremely useful to have around the home, particularly if you possess some basic, carpentry skills. It may seem hard to believe that many of the exquisite, marble statues, historical monuments, and even the modern skyscrapers and sculptures we see today, owe much of their beauty and finesse to this amazing tool.
The term "Chisel" is believed to have evolved from the Latin word "seco" (I cut) or the French word "ciseau." As ancient, archaeological discoveries indicate, the crude, stone-fashioned forerunners of today's chisels, may have been the first of its kind used by primitive man. Although improved, versions are believed to have been used for marble carving in 6th century BC Greece, inscriptions on an ancient tomb of 7th century BC Egypt, suggest otherwise.
Chisels can be identified by their characteristic, flat and wide angular-shaped, cutting edges (blades). They are equipped with wooden or metal handles although some sets of chisels, such as those used on stone, metal or concrete, have no handles and are fabricated in metal, usually iron or steel.
Chisels are used primarily for cutting, planing, gouging, carving and finishing of such materials, as wood, stone, metal or marble. However, the end-applications and materials will usually determine which type of chisel is to be used. To perform efficiently, chisels are driven into the base material manually, using different levels of pressure, depending on the nature of the intended task. A hammer or mallet is generally used as the driving force to exert pressure on the hand-held, chisel/s being used.
There are as many types and sizes of chisels, as there are specific applications. However, as chisels are basically small, hand-held manual tools, the lengths of the different types of chisels, within a particular set, are more or less the same. However, the width of their individual cutting blades comes in various sizes, depending on the nature and complexity of the tasks/projects in hand.
Chisels, whether metal or wood-type, are perceived to be very simple and easy to use, as opposed to power tools. However, the truth is that it does require considerable time (even years) for the user to acquire enough experience and skills to use them correctly and effectively. A sculptor is one glaring example. This is because the precision of a cut, gouge, or carve will depend largely on the correct, pressure (force) exerted on the chisel and base material, as well as the precise, angular-positioning of the blade to the surface of the materials or objects
As with power tools, safety measures are also required when working with chisels. Head, eye, finger and upper-body protection gear, such as helmet, vest, safety goggles and gloves are essential, particularly when working on material such as stone, concrete, marble, metal or wood. Moreover, incorrect blade angle and pressure (force) exerted on the chisel and on the material surface, can spoil or damage the base material/s or object/s being worked on.