What Is a Hammer Chisel Used For?

Hammer chisels are available as inserts attached to air or pneumatic hammers. They work by using compressed air and repetitive motions to perform certain tasks. So what exactly is a hammer chisel used for?

A hammer chisel is a vital tool for cutting and hollowing out materials. It has extensive applications in numerous industries. For example, it is helpful in construction when carrying out light demolition work, clearing mortar from bricks, and chipping away concrete slabs.

The following article will highlight the uses of a hammer chisel, the variety of ways to use the tool, and the preventive measures you should consider when using them.

Uses of a Hammer Chisel

A hammer chisel has many uses, most of which are in the construction industry. Hammer chisels shape, split, or burrow into concrete slabs, bricks, and stones, allowing construction workers to complete their projects quickly and efficiently.

Some of the uses of a hammer chisel include:

  • Cutting vehicle body parts, like exhaust pipes. Hammer chisels attach to pneumatic hammers, which produce considerably more force than a manual chisel and hammer. That’s why they can cut through tough material like metal.
  • Demolishing concrete, brick, and mortar. A hammer chisel is one of the essential tools needed for demolition works along with jackhammers and drills. It’s good at wedging and breaking apart pieces of construction material.
  • Chipping stone. Sculptors use hammer chisels to break stones into smaller pieces and shape them into works of art. On the other hand, masons use them to mold bricks and stones for construction purposes.
  • Channeling concrete. Hammer chisels can be helpful when trying to create channels on concrete slabs.
  • Breaking up hard surfaces. During road repair works, hammer chisels help in breaking up asphalt or concrete, allowing contractors to fix damaged areas.
  • Drill into concrete. Hammer chisels can drill holes into concrete and create large spaces. They can also be helpful during demolition works because they can create holes big enough for controlled explosions.
  • Removing rust, weld spatter, and scale from metal surfaces. Hammer chisels help to remove unwanted debris from metal surfaces, preparing them for cleaning, polishing, and painting.  

How To Use a Hammer Chisel

The effective use of a hammer chisel involves three things:

  • Choosing the best type for the task you have in mind
  • Giving the tool a thorough safety inspection
  • Efficiently using the cutting edge to chip away at a surface

Hammer chisels have different shank styles for different tasks. So, before starting any work with a hammer chisel, make sure you’ve fitted your pneumatic or air hammer with the right chisel. Specifically, your hammer chisel has to be the right size and shape. You can check with your hammer’s manufacturer or instruction manual regarding the best hammer chisel to use with your tool.

Next, you want to ensure the hammer chisel won’t pose any safety issues. Check that it has no structural defects that can compromise its effectiveness such as cracks or bends. If the chisel is blunt, sharpen it before use.

Once all your tools are in order, place the cutting edge on the surface you intend to chisel. The hammer chisel should be placed on the surface at a specific angle to achieve your desired results. 

For example: 

  • Set the chisel at a 90° angle to get a clear cut. 
  • Set it at a 65° angle to achieve a groove or channel on concrete or brick surfaces. 
  • Use a 45° angle to get rid of objects sticking out from the surface. 

Once the chisel is in place, move the pneumatic hammer in the direction you want to clean-cut or carve out.

Precautions When Using a Hammer Chisel

The following are precautions you should keep in mind when using hammer chisels:

  • Wear protective glasses. Hammer chisels are handy chipping tools. However, the chipping process often causes debris to fly around. If you don’t use protective glasses, chipped material like pieces of concrete, brick, or mortar can enter your eyes and cause discomfort or extensive damage to your vision.
  • Wear a face shield. For enhanced protection, consider wearing a face shield over your protective glasses. The face shield should protect the rest of your face from flying debris or objects during chiseling. 
  • Wear gloves. Aside from your face, it would help if you also protect your hands. Working with hand tools without gloves can cause bruising and blisters that hinder your ability to work effectively. Moreover, gloves help enhance your grip, minimizing the chances of your tools slipping from your hands.
  • Sharpen your chisel. Not only is working with a blunt hammer chisel difficult, but it can also result in uneven chipping. So, keep a bevel close by to sharpen your chisel whenever necessary.
  • Stay focused. Maintaining concentration when using hand tools is very important. Any distraction can result in you injuring yourself. Therefore, it would be best if you kept your eyes on the tools and focused on the task.
  • Replace chisels showing wear and tear. Any bent, cracked, dented, or chipped chisels should be replaced. Otherwise, faulty chisels can damage your work, require more effort to use, and cause injuries if the tool breaks apart due to the constant force it’s subjected to.
  • Use the right size. Hammer chisels come in different sizes. So, before inserting them into a pneumatic hammer, make sure their diameter suits that of the hammer. If the hammer chisel doesn’t fit snugly, it might fall off while you work, causing injuries and other serious issues.
  • Do not manually hit hammer chisels. Manufacturers design hammer chisels to work in conjunction with pneumatic hammers. Therefore, striking hammer chisels with a hammer can cause structural damage since pneumatic hammers use air pressure to make chisels work. 


Hammer chisels have numerous applications in construction like chipping, channeling, demolishing, and drilling concrete, stone, brick, or mortar. They’re also easy to use, as you mostly need to know the angles you should use to work chisels more effectively.

However, you need to follow several safety measures when using hammer chisels. Overall, hammer chisels are invaluable and necessary tools to have in your arsenal.

Damien Madeira

Damien has been doing woodworking for the last 5 years. He began as a hobbyist with hand tools and slowly worked his way up to own larger machines and mill rough wood into beautiful creations. While still considering himself a hobbyist, he has a passion for woodworking and enjoys working with epoxy as well.

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