What are Chasing Tools?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Chasing tools are tools which are used to create textured patterns in a surface such as wood, leather, metal, or clay. While chasing is often associated specifically with metalworking, it is a technique which can be used in other media as well. Chasing also happens to be one of the oldest decorative arts, with examples of chased metal being found in many archaeological sites. Many chasing tools are made from metals, with various choices being available depending on the material one intends to chase.


Chasing can take a number of forms. The simplest chasing is simply lines or grooves created with the use of a pointed chasing tool. Other types of textures and patterns can be created, and stamping tools are also available for creating stamped patterns during chasing. Chasing can also involve punching or piercing to create cutout and pierced designs, some of which can become very complex.

In the hands of a highly experienced crafter, chasing tools can be used to create patterns with very high levels of detail and complexity. Nuanced shading and other visual effects can be created by someone with steady and controlled hands. Chasing can also be combined with other techniques which are used to work or ornament the material for varied visual effect. For example, it may be used with repousse, in which patterns are created by beating metal from the back to create a raised design.

Many companies sell chasing tools in kits which offer a selection of basic starter tools. These kits include a caddy or holder for the tools, a mallet for driving them, and sometimes accessories such as burnishing cloths and so forth. It is also possible to purchase standalone tools for specific needs and projects. Kit tools can sometimes be inferior, as companies may bundle low cost tools to create an appealingly affordable package price, but in other cases, they are of very high quality.

Some people make their own chasing tools, or adapt ordinary objects for use in chasing. Metalworkers often end up developing their own tools because they have highly specific needs and they can make a tool more quickly than they can find one which is commercially available. For things like ceramic, anything from ordinary kitchen utensils to sticks can be used for chasing, thanks to the malleable nature of ceramic. Chasing is often taught in beginning ceramics classes to introduce people to the array of decorative options available.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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