The air chisel is a powerful but rarely used tool. Commonly associated with industrial use, such as outdoor repair or rescue services, air chisels are actually useful in a number of consumer-level applications. Lately more power tool manufacturers have added hand-held consumer air chisels to their lineup, and with them come a number of uses.
Auto Body Work
Restoring or breaking down an automobile is a tedious job. Using an air chisel won't completely eliminate the need for large amounts of time and elbow grease, but in some areas they make the task much easier. Most air chisels feature an ability to change out chisel heads for different shapes and sizes. This allows you to use larger cutting chisels to tear through metal or steel body panels when dismantling a vehicle. Additionally you can use higher-powered chisels to slice through stubborn or rusted bolts on the framing or undercarriage. The destruction caused by taking an air chisel to any part of a vehicle means it's not the proper tool for simple repairs or modifications. However, if you're attempting to do a complete tear-down of a car for restoration or rebuilding, then an air chisel is a helpful tool for getting the job done.
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Similar to its use for auto repair and break downs, the air chisel is also useful for the break down and restoration of furniture. This holds especially true for higher-end furniture pieces made with solid wood and durable upholstery nails. Often, if you're looking to reupholster a piece of furniture, you'll find the upholstery nails almost impossible to remove by hand. Making matters worse, these nails are likely spaced close together and in large numbers. Using a hand-held air chisel with a small cutting tip installed, you can power through these nails right at the point where they connect to the wood itself. This will shear off the nails with a smooth flat finish on the wood and allow you to remove the old upholstery. Take caution when using the air chisel in this way, however, as attempting to take a chisel to a finished part of the wood could likely ruin the finish and require additional repairs.
Carving or chipping away at stone of any size is an excellent place to use an air chisel to save some energy that would otherwise be spent hammering on steel chisels little by little. If you're attempting to either break down a large block to create a sculpture of some sort or are simply splitting large rocks into specific pieces for an outdoor project, an air chisel with interchangeable bits can accomplish the task quickly and easily. The only application you would likely want to avoid is one which requires precision cuts, such as a detailed sculpture. A high-powered air chisel can quickly get away from you and take off more than a small chunk of rock, so for detailed areas or small spaces you'll want to stick with the more easily controlled hand-held chisel.