During the Second World War, the chassis of some railway wagons and road hauled vehicles were still being made out of seasoned oak. This involved chiseling joints in very large pieces of very hard wood and a special tool called a Wagon Chisel had been used in the industry for many years, as seen here in a contemporary trade catalogue:
The British Army also issued these chisels to its tradesmen for working particularly large timbers, as seen with this simple chisel:
The chisel is made from a single bar of steel, flattened down at one end and ground to a chisel point:
The opposite end is shaped to a circle to allow it to be hit with a hammer:
Being made completely of steel, the chisel can be hit with metal hammers rather than the usual wooden mallet used with a wooden handled chisel. This allows greater force to be used which makes it easier to cut through particularly hard woods like oak.
The chisel is marked with a /|\ mark and a date of 1942:
The makers mark is also stamped into the metal and like most steel tools it was made in Sheffield:
I’m not sure how many different sizes of these chisels were available to British Army carpenters, however they tended to be pretty well equipped with tools, so I would suspect that all six widths listed in the catalogue piece above would have been available and so could be found with the /|\ mark.
Fred Connington was a carpenter in the RAF and had some unusual jobs given to him…
As a carpenter in Chester I was very, very pleased to be given the first job ever of providing kennels for the German Shepherd dogs. They had 6 German Shepherd dogs, so I made 6 kennels. I put a shutter on the front and I was asked by the sergeant, ‘what have you done that for, why have you put a shutter on the front?’ I said, ‘well at night-time it will keep them warm and keep them in’. ‘Oh right leave it then’. The first night they put the dogs in these kennels, they must have been a bit worried about it because when morning came there were 6 dogs running over the airfield and the whole front of the kennel had been chewed off. They didn’t like being put away.
My thanks go to Jordan Voce who helped identify the use of this chisel.