Years ago I picked up a fishtail chisel from Blue Spruce Toolworks, and today it’s still the chisel I reach for when cleaning out dovetail sockets. No, it’s not a chisel you need in your toolbox to do the work. I went for years cutting sockets with only a 1/4″-wide bench chisel to clean out the corners. A fishtail chisel, however, is a tool that I believe allows you to get the work done easier.
While I’ve tried a few other fishtail chisels, I keep coming back to my Blue Spruce tool. I wondered why for a while until it finally struck me. Other chisels were too bulky. I am able to slightly flex my Blue Spruce fishtail and that applies just the right amount of pressure against the back wall of my sockets as I clean the corners (see the opening photo).
I specifically like the way it cleans tight into the corners of my 12°-angled sockets. The tool is easy to start at the baseline and rock into the corner cutting each fiber on its trip to the bottom. Because I use it only on dovetails, I seldom need to hone the cutting edge, which stays sharp a long time.
If you’re looking to invest some of your tool fund into a new chisel for dovetailing, I’d give a look to Dave Jeske and Blue Spruce Toolworks tools.