1/2" Fishtail Chisel Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

1/2" Fishtail Chisel



Fishtail Chisels

Fishtail Chisels are perfect for reaching the back corners of half-blind dovetails and paring other hard-to-reach areas. Their unique shape offers versatility for right and left hand recesses.

Our Fishtail Chisels are made from A2 Tool Steel, hardened to Rockwell 60-62, cryogenically treated and double tempered. Beveled at 25º. Hard Maple handles.

Click here to view our YouTube video demonstrating Fishtail Chisels.

Click here to view our YouTube video "Quick Tips: Sharpening Fishtail and Corner Chisels".

Click here to download a PDF copy of the instructions for this tool.


The bevel is flat ground at 25º, the backs are ground flat and finished by hand at 400 grit.


Chisels should be kept very sharp for best performance. The bevel is hand-lapped at 25º, but a higher secondary bevel of an additional 5º is advisable, depending on the wood and how the chisel is being used. On very hard woods, like oak, hard maple or exotic species, take lighter cuts and use a higher secondary bevel. Additional honing is recommended. Do not force the tool, especially when dull. Do not strike with a metal hammer.

You can find sharpening instructions in a printable PDF format on our Downloads page.

For more information on advanced sharpening we recommend David Charlesworth’s videos Plane Sharpening and Precision Preparation of Chisels for Accurate Joinery, available in both DVD and streaming formats.


We’ve been using Maine grown Hornbeam for many years but, unfortunately, we are no longer able to secure a steady supply. So, we are now offering chisels with Hard Maple handles, which is very tough and a suitable substitute. If we’re able to acquire acceptable Hornbeam in the future, we’ll offer replacement handles in Hornbeam.

A Long Chisel Handle for paring is also available. Overall length approximately 13".

Re-Seating Handles:

When your Chisels arrive, the handles may be loose because of wood shrinkage. They may also loosen during dry weather. The handles are held in place by the wedging of the wood into the tapered socket. Just rap the chisel handle upside down to re-seat the handle. Although we’ve had chisel sets in our shop for years without the handles coming loose, some people have the opposite experience. One solution to a loose handle is to apply hair spray to the tapered section and re-seat as described. Strange as it may sound, it’s effective - and unlike glue, it’s reversible.

Removing Handles:

One of the advantages of the socket design is that if you want to change handles, you can simply tap the side of the handle on a board and pop the handle off.


Our chisels are made of A2 Tool Steel, hardened to Rockwell 60-62, cryogenically treated and double tempered.


To protect your chisels from rust, be sure to oil, wax and/or wrap the tools after use. We recommend Jojoba Oil, a plant based oil product that is non-toxic, odor-free and easy to use. Also, in our shop, we use a fine abrasive handblock to remove any light surface oxide from tool bodies and blades. Jojoba Oil and abrasive handblocks are available from us. Handles are oiled and buffed with wax to produce a natural finish. Wipe with oil as desired to refresh.

Find everything you need for tool care.


Materials and workmanship are guaranteed for the life of your tool. Call for repairs or replacement parts. We are available for advice if you ever have a problem using your tool.


Sharp chisels are dangerous and should be handled with care. Dull chisels are even more dangerous and should be sharpened.