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Elliptical-back chisels are a traditional profile that appeared typically on larger sized chisels, but died out sometime in the late 19th century. Seeing the potential benefits of this design for dovetail chisels we worked with Ashley Iles to help develop some and they have now grown to be one of our best selling chisel ranges.
The shoulderless chisels have gently rounded faces that form an acute angle along the sides of the blade, this design gives excellent clearance right into the corners of a joint. The other advantage of a round back is that it makes the chisels very comfortable to hold in a pinch grip when paring. If you already have Ashley Iles hand ground bevel edged or butt chisels the sides are ground finely enough for dovetailing anyway so these would be a treat rather than a necessity. If you use ordinary general purpose bevel edged chisels (bevelled firmers as they are correctly described) then AI dovetail chisels will offer a clear advantage.
Although shoulder clearance is essential, it is never quite enough on its own. So, after consultation with Joel Moskowitz of the New York Museum of Woodworking, we also included a lovely pair of left and right handed 1/4" cabinetmakers fishtail skews, which combine the benefits of both skew chisels and fishtail chisels enabling you to reach all of the tricky spots that you can't get at with a straight chisel.