Tool Test: Veritas Mortise Chisels from Lee Valley Tools
by James McConnell
The Veritas (Lee Valley) mortise chisels are awesome in every sense of the word. They’re big, heavy and can plow through a mortise in just a few good passes. The size, shape and substantial thickness of the blades bring English “dagger”-style mortise chisels to mind, while the overall shape and length give them the feel of elegant Japanese or sash mortise chisels in the hand.
The chisels are available in 1⁄8″, 1⁄4″, 5⁄16″, 3⁄8″ and 1⁄2″ (and as a set of five). I tested the 1⁄4″ size in both A2 and PM-V11 steel and found little practical difference between the two in terms of edge retention or overall performance. (Their paths diverged at the sharpening stones, however, where PM-V11 was the clear winner, taking a finer edge with fewer strokes.) The rounded heel of the blade might seem like a small detail, but it provides a smoother fulcrum and changed how I used the tool to clear waste. I found myself almost shearing with the edge as I levered, leaving a cleaner and more uniform mortise, especially in the corners.