completely new woodworker and I wanted to make the object shown on the website and video below, without power tools, I understand that chisels can be used but can someone explain me how and which chisels to use? And alternatives? Also what would be a good set of chisels for a beginner and this project? Also I plan to use 2x4s for this is it alright?

 [1]: http://www.oneprojectcloser.com/how-to-make-a-wooden-business-card-case/


  • Welcome to Woodworking.SE! Your question is kind of broad, since it's asking a few different questions (how to use chisels, which chisels to buy, how to build a WWMM project). It is perfectly acceptable (preferable, even) to break these out into their own questions, so that the answers can be specific.
    – mmathis
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 21:58
  • As @mmathis suggested, please narrow this down to a single question, and feel free to break out the others as separate questions on this site. For the chisel question, it may be helpful if you can more specifically reference to which step(s) you are referring...technically, one could create many projects using only a chisel--or only a pocketknife, for that matter. Also when you break out your "which chisels to use" question, please be clear that you are not asking for purchasing recommendations (which are considered off-topic)--rather, I presume you mean what type of chisel.
    – rob
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 2:48
  • As laid out in guidelines this SE is not geared to giving specific product recommendations, but if you're in the US and you need an intro chisel set the cheapest available should still be the four-piece set from Harbor Freight. You will also need to buy sharpening stuff, immediately, since they are not supplied sharp and you will anyway need to sharpen them during. There are numerous Q&As here on various aspects of sharpening that will help you out on the how-to for that and the search here works really well so you'll have no trouble finding them. [contd]
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 7:45
  • 1
    Now that aside, you don't need chisels here as the simplest way to make something like this is to build it up (glue together 2 flat pieces and 3 small slips). If you must use a 2x4 start by choosing it with care — pick one with straight grain and no knots, at least near one end. If poss also select one with grain lines close together (under 1/32") although you might be looking for a while! Cut some long flat pieces of the 2x4 as @keshlam suggested, then cut them down to make both flat sides and the small slips. [contd]
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 8:00
  • A bit simplified but that's basically it, along with sanding to smooth off the sawn faces and finish off. If you get a nice saw that's capable of smooth cuts you'll need to do very little (or nothing) to smooth the sawn surfaces though. A good type of saw for this is a Japanese-style pull saw with fine teeth, Harbor Freight also sell one of those and while it's not the best in the world it's a very decent saw for under ten bucks. Then all you need is a steel rule, a pencil and a craft knife and you're set as far as tools for this job, and every tool will be used again for future jobs.
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 8:05

2 Answers 2


If you are starting with a 2x4, the first step is going to be to slice off the thin pieces that serve as the faces of the card holder. Saw and patience; it may take repeated tries to get a straight cut that is thin enough. Note that you want to cut these pieces with the grain (along the length of the 2x4), since they will have essentially no strength if you cut them the other way.

As far as carving the recess with a chisel: Whether that works or not is going to depend on your skill with the chisel. Remember to chisel the edges first --at least to the point of making a firm vertical cut -- so chips break off at that point rather than tearing out the raised sides of the recess.

More work than I would want to do, but at worst you should get better at handling -- and sharpening -- your tools.


I can see doing this with four hand tools. A bench plane, router plane, chisel, and saw. You'll also need a good way to hold the wood in place while you work on it.

The bench plane should be able to take fine shavings. Ideally a smoothing plane, but a jack plane or even a block plane should work fine. The saw should be a rip saw, preferably something with a thin plate, like a tenon saw. You could get away with a regular panel saw or a cheapo miter saw, but you'll need to increase your tolerances and do more work with the plane.

The steps are basically the same as shown in the video, with the chisel and router plane standing in for the router table.

1) Get your 2x4 down to the final width and length you want for the card holder. Find a section of 2x4 that has no knots, and use that. So you'll have a block of wood about 3 inches long, maybe 2.5 inches wide, and 1.5 inches thick.

2) Use the plane to flatten and smooth one wide face of the block.

3) Mark the three edges of the recess you want to make to hold the card.

4) Use the chisel to cut into the one mark that goes across the grain. Make sure you don't cut too deep. You can use a marker on the back of your chisel to mark the depth of cut.

5) Use the router plane to cut the recess to a uniform depth. You could do this with a chisel in theory, but a router plane is the right tool for the job. If you do use the chisel, use a mallet to make shallow cross-grain cuts, walking the chisel away from the cut line you made in step 4. After the recess has been roughed out, push the chisel straight in from the open side of the recess. Make sure the chisel is sharp and be careful not to blow out the closed side of the recess.

6) Use the saw to slice off the recess you have created. (basically the sides and back of the card holder). Leave extra thickness so you can correct saw mistakes with the plane.

7) Use the plane to clean up the back side of the piece you just made. It will be a little tricky to hold this thin piece in place while planing. Sandpaper might be a better bet for this step.

8) Plane the face of the block nice and smooth again. This surface will be an outer face of the card holder.

9) Use the saw to slice off the back of the card holder. The sawn surface will face to the inside of the card holder, so it doesn't have to be super-nice, but you should at least sand down the areas that will be glued.

10) Glue it together.

  • Thanks you everyone for welcoming me and answering my question. Is there a rules area I could go to for clarification, also regarding the chisels, yes I was wondering how they are classified and which ones would be appropriate for this project.
    – Marsr45
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 16:30

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