With a sharp set of these, you can shape wood to your will
Western-style chisels (left) have long, narrow, alloy blades that are easy to sharpen and quick to dull. This chisel's boxwood handle has two metal bands, which prevent it from splitting, and an octagonal shape to stop the tool from rolling off a workbench.
10 1/2 inches long, 3/4 inch wide; $45; woodcraft.com
Japanese chisels (right) forge-weld low-carbon steel (for resilience) with high-carbon steel (for sharpness). The process, used to make samurai swords, creates the swirls. Japanese blades get sharper and hold an edge longer—an asset for woodworkers—and have concave "faces" to reduce friction.
14 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide; $500; thejapanwoodworker.com
This all-purpose Fat Max's plastic handle won't split if you hit its steel end cap with a mallet when doing rough or finish carpentry. Shallow rubber indents offer a comfortable spot for your thumb when you're pushing by hand.
$25 for a set of 3; stanleyworks.com
These well-balanced, sharp socket chisels, fine for woodworking, are made with heat-treated steel that holds its edge without chipping easily. The hardwood handles that fit in the socket won't split when struck and are easily replaced.
$300 for a set of five with a leather roll; lie-nielsen.com
Sold in pairs (one edge skews left, the other right), they're used by furniture makers for fine-tuning corners. The angled edge also won't tear out end grain the way a square chisel can.
11 1/2 inches long; $52; garrettwade.com.