I am trying to create an 8 sided pyramid out of a solid piece of cherry that is 1" thick. The size of the base of the pyramid can be seen in the attached photo: (all dimensions are in inches)



So far I have tried cutting away at it with various chisels but I have been at it for about 3 hours and am not close to finishing one side... Does anyone have any better methods to achieve this 8 sided pyramid that I am looking to make?

  • Sharpen your chisel! That's not very helpful by itself so also, chop away most of the excess (use a mallet or hammer, not hand pressure), work sideways or on the diagonal to reduce resistance from the wood, switch to paring cuts once you get close to your lines. Lastly, 99% chance you should finish smoothing with a hand plane and not try to do it with the chisel.
    – Graphus
    Jul 21, 2017 at 7:14
  • Could a small rotary tool also be used to get rid of a lot of material quickly as an alternative to chisels?
    – ptrickono
    Jul 21, 2017 at 23:25
  • Far slower. Without exaggerating an experienced worker might be able to chop the waste from one side of this (the one with the most favourable grain direction) in about 10 seconds! Figure it could take you multiple times more than that it's still only a minute at most.... hard to even come close to that with a bit held in a small, relatively low-power rotary tool.
    – Graphus
    Jul 22, 2017 at 7:12
  • Re. chisel sharpness be honest with yourself, how sharp are they? Is the edge as good as you can do or are they a bit meh? Shaving-sharp should be considered minimum sharpness for most chisels, especially for those used in paring work.
    – Graphus
    Jul 22, 2017 at 7:17
  • 1
    I'd assumed you were talking informally when you said pyramid (and was going to edit the title accordingly) I thought you actually were planning on deep chamfers. Would advise abandoning the idea of a pyramid of this shape in only 1" thick cherry. The corners and long edges are going to be far too fragile to stand up to handling because of the acute angle in cherry which isn't very strong, I'd bet dollars to donuts you'd end up damaging the edges in the course of working on this. To make this tough enough I think you'd need to use hard maple at least, but the ideal choice is probably boxwood.
    – Graphus
    Jul 27, 2017 at 6:43

1 Answer 1


With handtools you typically want to follow a "coarse, medium, fine" workflow. The coarse step will get generally close to the line, medium will refine that to hit the line, and fine will fine-tune and surface your piece. It sounds like you're trying to skip the coarse step and go straight to medium.

Your coarse work should be done by either a saw or something that can take very deep passes. Depending on the situation this could be a drawknife, scrub plane, or something that can split the wood along the grain like a froe.

Personally, my workflow here would be to layout the design for a triangle on the endgrain, then use a panel saw to get within 1/8" of that, then use a #4 set fairly heavy to get to the lines. I'd then start over doing the same process on the other two faces.

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