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Woodworking How To's: Chisel Scabbard

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Japanese chisels have rather hard edges which can chip easily. When not in use, chisels should be stored in a wooden chisel box, tool roll, or scabbards as the ones found below. Scabbards are often made for Japanese paring chisels since they are rather long (approximately 14" or longer) and may not fit into a typical chisel box or tool roll.

Note: For a new scabbard, some remaining moisture from the wood or the glue used can cause the tool to rust. It is a good idea to oil your blade before storing it in the scabbard. Camellia oil can be used for that purpose. In my experience (based on Bay Area condition), the scabbard will dry up completely after 2-3 months.

See also:

Last Update:
2007/01/15 - Page created by Bob Le.
2007/01/28 - Added scabbard gallery.

1 - A small block of Port Orford Cedar and a 12mm paring chisel. Almost any kind of wood can be used to make a scabbard.
2 - Determine how much of the blade should be covered by the scabbard.
3, 4, 5 - Outline the shape of the chisel onto the block of wood.
7 - Use a contour gauge to get the find the thickest, widest section of the blade.
8, 9 - Trace the contour to the block of wood.
10 - Score the outline with a wide chisel.
11 - Chop out the waste.
12 - Hint: For aesthetic reason, cut out the "mouth" opening of the scabbard first and shape it nicely. Once you get the correct shape for the mouth opening, chop out the rest of the waste.
15, 16, 17, 18
19, 20, 21 - Mouth opening completed.
22 - Chop out the remaining waste.
23, 24 - Test fitting.
25, 26 - Check that the blade sits flushed inside the slot.
27, 28, 29, 30 - Cut it to size.
31, 32, 33 - Match the other half of the scabbard. Check to ensure a proper fit.
34 - Glue the two halves together.
35, 36 - Cut it to size.
37 - Finish planing.
38, 39, 40 - Chamfer all the edges.
41, 42 - Final shaping.
43, 44 - Coating the scabbard with oil (Bioshield #1 Primer used here).
45, 46
47 - Done!

Once you've made your first scabbard, others will follow. I've made scabbards for all of my paring chisels. Below is a gallery of the different scabbards you can make. It's fun to experiment with your own designs!

48, 49 - Scabbard made from either bloodwood or redheart.
50 - Knife scabbards by Jay van Arsdale.
51, 52, 53 - Double-knife scabbard made from Douglas fir.
53, 54 - scabbard for extra wide (60mm) chisel.
54, 55, 56 - Scabbards for paring chisels.
57, 58
59, 60 - Jay's Kikuhiromaru (Nagaoke) slicks.
61, 62 - This scabbard seemed like a cool idea with the snap-on fit. It's a bad design though - when the edge wears off, it will not be a tight fit anymore!