I'm planning to install a lock into a wooden door and I'll need to cut various holes for the lock body using a chisel. I'll need to use something like a hammer or a mallet to drive the chisel and I'm concerned that using a hammer with a steal head would damage the chisel handle. I've seen a lot of photos where a hammer is used and a chisel handle doesn't look very good there.

So which do I use - a hammer (steal head) or a mallet (rubber head) - for driving a chisel when doing woodwork?

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    A hammer will work just fine. Most any chisel you buy today is designed to handle a hammer blow. – DA01 Nov 16 '12 at 10:25
  • I'd be concerned that a rubber mallet would be too bouncy. – Chris Cudmore Nov 16 '12 at 18:40

A purest would say to use a mallet made of wood or rolled hardened rawhide, but not rubber. I have a couple of sets and even my expensive ones have held up well using a regular 16 oz hammer.

But remember my motto: Every tool in my box is a hammer, except for the screwdrivers which are also chisels"

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  • +1 A regular steel hammer is all I ever used and my chisel set has gotten a LOT of use. – maple_shaft Nov 16 '12 at 12:49
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    More important is to learn the art of chisel sharpening using a whetstone!... keep the edge really sharp and you wont have to bang the head so hard! – Hightower Nov 16 '12 at 14:56
  • 1
    To my wife, every shoe in the closet is a hammer. – Chris Cudmore Nov 16 '12 at 18:41
  • If your chisels are "full tang" (the piece of metal that forms the blade and anchors the handle is exposed on the butt end as the striking surface) it doesn't matter either way anyway. – KeithS Nov 16 '12 at 19:59
  • +1 for sharp tools. Can't beat, (or maybe in this case you can) a really sharp chisel. – shirlock homes Nov 16 '12 at 23:20

If you're especially worried about the chisel (wooden handles) stick a small piece of leather scrap or thin rubber over the hammer face. This should dampen the blow just enough to prevent any chisel damage but not lose too much striking strength.

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I've found a dead-blow hammer to be my tool of choice. Soft face, no bounce, the full force of the blow goes into the tool struck.

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