Woodturner's chisels

Chisels are used for cutting and refining convex and parallel curves in spindle turning such as chair legs, table lamps, candlesticks, peppermills etc.

They are great for cutting beads, vee cuts, cleaning up the end grain of say a tool handle, cutting chuck recesses and opening parcels

It is a bad idea to try them on bowls although some brave souls have been know to try to clean up the back (convex curve!) of a bowl to clean up the rough grain. Not recommended!

Skew chisels and square across chisels come in various sections. Rectangular section is the basic form. The corners catch on the tool rest so an improvement is rounding off and smoothing the corners like this Taylor HS22. Taking this to extremes we have the oval section skew which slides nicely along the tool rest. The point of contact with the tool rest is nearer the centre of the tool enhancing stability.

rectagular skew showing rounded cornersoval skew showing section

Rectangular section is preferred sometimes by expert turners who like the increased strength of the blade but for sensitive cuts the oval section tool is better

The oval skew is slightly trickier to sharpen in a jig because it is difficult to keep the blade horizontal without it rocking slightly

Overall I recommend that beginners should start with a 1 inch oval skew

Variations on chisels

There are many forms of woodturner's chisels. I use a narrow (3/8" square section) chisel called a "beading and parting tool" (Taylor HS12) which I use for all sorts of jobs instead of a skew. In fact I do not use a skew at all - I prefer a straight ended chisel (Taylor HS25) which I find easier to use. I have noticed other turners end up with the angle of skew gradually getting towards straight across (or 90 degrees) as they grind it. It means I do not have to worry about which corner to use- the sharp point or the other one - as they are both the same and the tool can be used to cut in either direction without having to flip it over.
HS12 beading and parting toolsquare ended rectangular section chisel