Special Delivery

The College of the Redwoods Fine Furniture Program is known for its focus on traditional techniques. Among the many items on our shopping list is a chisel set. Based on the helpful recommendation of a former student, I purchased a set by Ashley Iles, made in Sheffield, England. Unlike models from certain better-known brands, their edges are very thin and well-suited for dovetailing. When they finally arrived today, I was surprised by how beautiful they are.


The handles are plump and pleasing to hold, the brass ferrules bright and neat, and the bevels so deep that the tops of the 1/8" and 1/4" chisels are barely there.


While I have used chisels over the years, I lack the control that comes with hours of practice. I grew up studying the violin, so I know it takes repetition to connect theory with execution. A boatbuilding friend once explained, "A chisel is just a handle for a very sharp edge." It is a beautiful idea that I ruefully keep in mind while gripping the tool with tense concentration. I'm excited to have these beautiful tools to practice with this fall.