Tool: Veritas Butt Chisels
Price: Starting at $70
Butt chisels have shorter blades than bench chisels and are generally made in wider sizes. They’re typically used for efficiently wasting out large areas, such as the mortises for installing butt hinges. These new butt chisels from Veritas’ are beautifully made and a pleasure to use.
Though butt chisels are technically a purpose-made tool, some woodworkers find the shorter length offers improved control, and so use them for general chiseling as well.
These chisels’ blades are made from PM-V11. This is a powdered metal alloy carefully chosen by the folks at Veritas after very thorough research to find the sweet spot between edge-retention and ease of sharpening. In extensive blind testing by Veritas, PM-V11 out-performed both A2 and 01 tool steel in edge retention. As for ease of sharpening, PM-V11 sits between the two; 01 tool steel taking an edge a little quicker and A2 being significantly more time-consuming.
Veritas butt chisel blades taper from shoulder to tip, have parallel sides and beveled edges for clearance when working into an angled corner or a tight recess.
Each blade is lapped flat. I’ve come to realize through experience that when the folks at Veritas say flat, they mean flat. As trusting as I’ve become, however, I still swipe the back across a stone a couple times just for the satisfying proof that I don’t have to waste any time lapping.
The blade and handle are connected with a tang and a socket-like stainless-steel ferrule that seats directly onto the blade’s shoulder, with flats on the tang to prevent the handle from rotating.
The hard maple handles have been treated with a process called torrefication. This is a heating process that stabilizes the wood against swelling and shrinkage. The handles, albeit a little slippery, are nicely contoured and have a domed end to resist chipping from glancing mallet blows.
Overall chisel lengths range from 7-1/2″ to 8″, with the blades being about 3″. The 1/4″ chisel has a 30° primary bevel, while the others are ground at 25°. All have 2° micro-bevels, and only require final honing before being ready for use.