I recently finished removing (4) 1/2" layers of fir from a pair of glulam
beams (for my workbench, but that's another story). I did this by making
lots of 1/2" deep saw cuts across the beam faces, then using some bench
chisels to waste away the majority of the wood. Lots of pounding involved.
My query revolves around the durability, or lack thereof, of the leather
shock washers on the striking ends of the chisel handles. I need to
preface my question by noting that the chisels have been passed down to me
from my great-grandfather's toolbox. He was a carpenter who built his own
house in 1906 in California. The chisels have the original handles and
leather shock washers, and most likely date back to somewhere around 1900.
Unfortunately, even though I was using a wooden mallet, I destroyed one of
the washers before I noticed, and the second chisel's washers are pretty
beat up, too.
I thought the washers were supposed to protect the handles. Were they
falling apart because they're 100 years old, or because they do that
Now I need to replace the washers. Should I use some kind of leather
again, or maybe switch to brass rings? Metal rings might protect the
handles, but would beat up the mallet. Any idears? Also, if leather is
correct, what is the best kind? I possibly have a source of free shoe sole
leather scraps, which would seem to be ideal, being fairly hard and tough.