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I don't know if anyone really knows when the first chisel was invented but it has it's roots in simple stone-age tools. A chisel is really just a modified knife designed for a variety of both light and heavy duty jobs. The largest chisels are those used in timber framing and log house construction and can have very wide blades. Woodworking chisel blades generally vary between 1" and 1/4" wide blades, but their are wider and narrower for specialized jobs.
There are many different kinds of wood chisels but they basically fall into 2 main groups, bevel sided chisels and flat sided chisels. Currently the bevel sided chisels are easily the most popular because of their ability to get into areas that most flat sided chisel just cannot reach. Because of the design of beveled chisels, some people suggest they are easier to bend when prying that will flat sided chisels. This may be the case, but often bend chisel blades are created because the chisel is being used for something other than what it was designed for.
Many flat sided wood chisels are also called mortise chisels as that is what they were designed to do. These chisels come in a variety of widths and shapes, and by themselves, a woodworker can cut out a quality mortise in a few minutes, using no other tools than the mortise chisel and a mallet. With today's wealth of power tools there are many other different ways of making moritises, but in the days before power tools, the mortise chisel was the main tool for this.