Basic Chasing Tools

As well as being used for chasing they may also be used as punches to make textures. A stamp or texturing punch can be struck onto an annealed blank tool to get a negative impressions of its end. Each texturing tool can then produce its own negative. These blanks in turn are then hardened and tempered. It is wise to always wear goggles when using punches of any kind.

As with all hardening of steel if one paints on a slurry of hand bar soap or rubs the heated tool onto a bar of hand soap one obtains a protective film which keeps the steel from scaling and oxidizing when heated to bright orange for hardening by rapid quenching.

As always the tool must then be softened by reheating and tempering it so it is not too brittle. If a whole tool has been hardened then it should be tempered as in the diagram below; sanded off slightly to bare the metal surface and then heated very slowly and gently until the corresponding color shows up as in the diagram. Start in the middle and go towards the back, then quench the tool. Then work from the middle to the front, allowing the heat to percolate slowly towards the tip. When the straw yellow shows quench it in water rapidly.

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W1 water hardening tool steel commonly sold as drill rod is great for most general purpose chasing tools, punches and chisels. It may take some work but it is possible to convince your hardware supplier that W1 square stock steel exists which saves you having to file flats or a square cross section on the tool for better control.It is extremely important that there be no remaining hardened spots in the body of the tool-people have been blinded by a tool breaking. Even if you think the back or middle of a tool was not heated enough to harden it upon quenching temper the whole thing anyway as a precaution.


Chasing tools may also be used for setting stones. An excellent shape was developed by Walter Zeiss. It has a curved side to it and drives metal inwards against the stone when it is struck. It leaves a number of curving marks on a bezel. See the stonesetting section for a diagram.

One may set chasing tools in a vise as small stakes for working metal.

Wooden chasing tools (oak, lignum vitae, ebony, etc.) are used for fixing mistakes and forming metal without stretching or scarring it. Brass, Nylon® and Delrin® tools may be used in a similar manner. When you see chasing tool shafts that are twisted back and forth in a decorative pattern this is usually copying of Asian tools which are often made of brass and twisted. The reason in Asia is however not looks or better grip but simply that steel is far too expensive to make tools from in those areas compared to income levels and brass is not strong enough and so it has to be twisted to strengthen it in use. Chasing tools can be slid into a handle almost their entire length to function as burnishers. One can drill the hole up into the handle.

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Chasing and dapping tools can be clamped onto the end of a hammer handle as temporary small shaping hammers if a suitable clamping device is constructed onto the end of a hammer handle. Remember a hammer is a punch on a stick and a chasing tool is a hammer without a handle. Flip things around, call them by the other tool as you describe them in order to obtain a better understanding of what the tool actually does. If you see a relationship between tools there probably is one. Look for patterns to deepen your understanding of the medium.


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