1/2" Mortise Chisel Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

1/2" Mortise Chisel



Note: Due to constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 1/10" Mortise Chisels are temporarily out of production and unavailable until further notice. At this time we are unsure of a timeline for the return of these tools.

Mortise Chisels

Designed with cabinetmaking in mind, not timber framing, these well-balanced Mortise Chisels are ground with parallel sides and are taller than they are wide to help keep them straight in the cut.

Our Mortise Chisels are made of A2 Tool Steel, hardened to Rockwell 60-62, cryogenically treated and double tempered. Overall length ranges from 9-¾" to 11". Beveled at 30º, hornbeam handles.

Plane maker Larry Williams requested that we make a 1/10" Mortise Chisel for his work. The 1/10" Mortise Chisel is handy for very narrow work.

*Please note that our Hornbeam chisel handles
have natural color variations in the wood grain.

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


Edges are square, parallel along the length, and very narrow so you can get into tight places. The bevel is flat ground at 30º, 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 30º, 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 here: Sharpening Instructions PDF

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.


Lie-Nielsen Chisels have Maine-harvested Hornbeam handles. Hornbeam, also known as Ironwood, was once prized for its toughness, but usually winds up as firewood these days. This under-utilized species makes superb chisel handles. We don’t recommend using a 16-ounce framing hammer with these chisels, though that is how we test them.

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.