Photos by Steven Der-Garabedian
There is something about making things flush. It’s one of my favourite things to do in woodworking. While talking with a good friend about this, he remarked “that something” was a finality to a job, a pat on the back for the satisfaction of finishing.
Veritas Flushing Chisels
MSRP: $289 (Four pc. set with handle; chisels can be purchased separately)
The Veritas Flushing Chisels are made from PM-V11, Veritas’ own steel alloy, and are available in four widths (1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, 1-1/2″). I find the 1-1/2″ chisel the most useful. They can be bought individually with a handle or as a set with one handle between them. A single handle will do the trick as it’s easily interchangeable between the different sizes. To keep everything together and safe, a tool roll specifically made for these chisels is also available. The blades are light but strong and are 1/8″ thick with an overall length of just under 12″ including the handle.
It took almost no time to get the blades sharp enough to put to work. A quick honing for the back on a 8000x stone, and since I’m not a fan of micro bevels, I sharpened the bevel working from 1000x through to 4000x and finally 8000x on Japanese water stones. Some manufacturers have come a long way in giving us a tool that is almost ready to work. This preparation would have taken at least half a day or more a number of years ago, however, I was up and running after only about 10 minutes. The overall feel of the chisel is very comfortable. They also look great. They’re well balanced and you always feel like you are in control, especially with a good sharpening.
One of the first tasks I tried was flushing a dowel used to pin a mortise and tenon. Normally I would use a block plane for this, however, sometimes the blade would dig in and leave small marks. The flushing chisel worked really well here, even when I took deeper cuts. I’ve dedicated the thinnest of the chisels to flushing drill and screw holes in MDF. I make a lot of patterns using the man-made material and when you remove screws you have raised edges around the hole. If these aren’t flushed then pieces won’t sit flat against each other.
One other job I found these chisels excel in, is the traditional Japanese technique of Kumiko. I would normally use a 2″ bevel edge chisel and it would work fine. However, I find using the 1-1/2″ flushing chisel much more comfortable as it is not as heavy and works really well at shaving the required angles using the jigs. The 25° bevel handles the end-grain in soft basswood with no issues.
Based on pattern maker’s chisels, I think the widest and the narrowest will be of use to most woodworkers. These chisels act like pairing chisels, where smooth and controlled cuts are not an issue so long as you have a sharp edge. These are not your daily use bench chisels, but when you need to make things flush both cleanly and efficiently, you will definitely want to break them out.