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Homemade Ice Chisels

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  • Homemade Ice Chisels

    Please share and show us your homemade ice chisels! Most of us use chisels to check ice thickness and to get water. What features do you find most important?

  • #2
    I made mine with a 2" pipe and a piece of spring steel. The handle is Balsam. IMO wider than 2" or so is not necessary. A long handle may or may not be helpful, but I made mine about 6' long. A loop of rope through the handle is essential!! My son loaned his to a buddy and is now at the bottom of Hegman in front of the pictos.

    Click image for larger version

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    • #3
      I don’t bring a chisel, more of a spike. It is inspired by the poles Nordic skaters use to make quick checks of the ice as they travel. They don’t necessarily want to or need to know how thick the ice is. What they want to do is test the ice frequently quickly to get a pass/no-pass test.

      The test is done by giving a firm stab with the pole. If the ice is thin, say less than a inch, the spike goes straight through. If the ice is a bit thicker the point will bury itself a few inches. What I think happens is the spike pops off a “dinner plate” shaped piece of ice from the bottom making room for the point. As the ice gets thicker the point stops digging in as deep because the ice below is thick enough to resist popping off.

      My tester pole is about 6’ long including the spike.
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      The wooden handle is made from a 1 1/4” dowel I found at the hardware store. I drilled a 4” hole/pocket in one end to receive the spike.

      The spike is made from a brick pointing chisel. Mine is about 3/8” in diameter. I leave 4” exposed and I have another 4” epoxied into the end of the dowel. I blunted over the point with a file. This is a link to the chisel I used after trimming it to 8”.

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      Before I used the brick pointing chisel I tried a long lag bolt for the point but it did not hold up well, just 1 season. This chisel has held perfectly for three seasons.

      In the photo you will see I wrapped fine thread and wire around the bottom of the pole buried it in epoxy to reinforce it. I am not sure this is actually needed though and if I made another I would leave it out.

      I also added a little plastic bump on the side and put measurements on the shaft to check ice thickness. I can feel the bottom of the ice with the bump and read off the thickness. This does work when I come across fishing holes but in the field almost never use use this function and I would leave it out next time.

      The top part of the pole is wrapped in hockey tape to improve the grip. Above and below the spot where my hand naturally lands I very loosely wrapped a piece of rope and buried it under wraps of hockey tape. This gives it a very nice gripy feel in hand, even when wearing thick mittens.
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      When use it in the field to do a test I firmly stab a few spots in front of me. If I feel the pole go in a ways I know the ice is less than 4”. If the point goes in just a little and stops or gets bounced out I know I am good. I can do this through a layer of snow as well. I use the pole as a walking stick when not in use.

      In camp I reuse the pole. I have a adjustable sleeve I slide over the spike that make it into a sturdy center pole of my teepee tent.
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      One advantage is the chisel is they are good for water holes. I use my axe to do that.
      Last edited by timdaman; 01-25-2021, 11:17 PM. Reason: Correct information about chisel and fixed a typo


      • Undersky
        Undersky commented
        Editing a comment
        Great ingenuity, Timdaman!
        I respect your experience regarding the parts that you would leave out when you build another ice spike.
        Still, I am inclined, according to how easily I can break things, to wrap the pole at the socket with the wire of cord, bedded in epoxy.
        Thank you for your level of detail in this post!

    • #4
      timdaman now that is an interesting design! I l love it.


      • #5
        I made this chisel out of 3/4” rigid emt. I sharpened the end of the emt and pounded in a piece of oak to add a little mass and to strengthen it a bit more. I the broke the handle off a 1” wood chisel, welded it onto a lag bolt, predrilled the oak and screws it in and then welded the chisel to the emt. It’s been working well fo 10 years.