Chisels - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 12-09-2018, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
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Chisels

Chisels

I have a few sets of chisels.
Very old Craftsman about 40 years old.
Blue handle Marples (Before Record, Before Irwin) interspersed with a Record and Irwin.
A few Buck Brothers.
Harbor Freight.

My observation about quality are:
The Craftsman are probably the best followed by take your pick but Harbor Freight are last. The difference is probably about a tenth of a percent. The Harbor Freight needed to be sharpened to 27° rather than the normal 25°.

I've used a couple of those very expensive Japanese, dual metal chisels. Did I detect a difference? Not really but they may have held their edge longer but I didn't use them long enough to need honing or sharpening.

Yes I did flatten the backs of all. I used wet or dry on a piece of plate glass to flatten the backs.

Sharpening was done using a Tormek and followed by water stones to 8000 grit. During use I will use the leather strop of the Tormek to restore the edge. After 8 or 10 passes over the strop I will drag the chisel over two of the higher grit water stones. When the hollow of the grind finally disappears it is back to the Tormek wheel.

IMNSHO avoid any sharpening system that goes across the chisel rather than the length. Sharpening across the chisel tends to leave abrasive grooves parallel to the keen edge and makes it easier for the keen edge to roll back or break off. You won't notice the actual piece of the keen edge but the chisel will require a bit more effort to work and more frequent honing.

Mr. Kappell, my 6-7-8 wood shop teacher in the mid 1950s said, "Only a stone mason hits a chisel with a hammer." I tend to agree. Your mileage may vary.

Rich
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post #2 of 5 Old 12-09-2018, 06:38 AM
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I have probably 40 chisels from different makers including harbor freight and I can't tell the difference in any of them with the exception of a homemade chisel I made out of a jointer knife. It's the best chisel which will hold an edge longer. I've never checked the angle of the harbor freight chisels but there is no reason they can't be ground to any angle you desire.
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post #3 of 5 Old 12-09-2018, 10:18 AM
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Chiseling VS carving ...

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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I have probably 40 chisels from different makers including harbor freight and I can't tell the difference in any of them with the exception of a homemade chisel I made out of a jointer knife. It's the best chisel which will hold an edge longer. I've never checked the angle of the harbor freight chisels but there is no reason they can't be ground to any angle you desire.
Steve is a very talented wood carver which is a whole different skill set than making mortises and tenons using chisels. The type of steel determines how well it will cut and if it will hold a sharp edge. Harbor Freight may have improved their specifications so they are competitive with other brands. Who knows they may all be made in the same factory?
Stanley and Craftsman are the most common and available for the home shop. Wood River, Narex and Marples are available on line and in woodworking stores locally. I have some Robert Sorby mortising chisels I bought at Woodcraft years ago, but seem no longer available from them. Amazon does carry them now:
https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&ke...l_56hx2cx6tf_b

For serious timber framing, a "slick" is required. It is similar to a normal chisel except much long and the handle is offset from the plane of the blade. This allows it to be used much like a hand plane.
https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Sorby-...raming+chisels

For serious wood carving the Japanese make some of the finest gouges.
I acquired some when I was assigned there in 1990. The steel is the laminated type hardness at HRC64 Rockwell.
https://www.amazon.com/bangdan-Lamin...carving+gouges

So, you can see there are many types of wood "chisels" spoons, and gouges and all have specific applications. Even the basic wood chisels come in all steel construction for rugged use on job sites where a split off handle would hold up the job. The Japan Woodworker has just about every type available, BUT hold onto your seat when you see the prices:
https://www.japanwoodworker.com/categories/chisels

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-09-2018, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Ah, yes The Rockwell hardness test.

When buying chisels and you should look at several of the anticipated brand before purchase. Look at the back top of the blade where it narrows down to the tang. Look for three dimples in the back of the chisel. These dimples are how the Rockwell hardness test is performed. You won't find the dimples on every chisel of a particular manufacturer. If you find the dimples, it says that the manufacturer cares about the quality of the steel in their product. The care about steel quality carries over to their product line.

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post #5 of 5 Old 12-10-2018, 04:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoThankyou View Post
Ah, yes The Rockwell hardness test.

When buying chisels and you should look at several of the anticipated brand before purchase. Look at the back top of the blade where it narrows down to the tang. Look for three dimples in the back of the chisel. These dimples are how the Rockwell hardness test is performed. You won't find the dimples on every chisel of a particular manufacturer. If you find the dimples, it says that the manufacturer cares about the quality of the steel in their product. The care about steel quality carries over to their product line.
Or that they test for hardness before the finish grind

A lot of custom knifemakers use the same hardness testers for their blades, but not a single one is going to leave those marks on a finished product. Id argue that if youre seeing the dimples, either A) the company doesnt care enough to do the grinding right, or B) that particular chisel is one that went through the random quality testing but somehow made it back on the production line without going through any finishing operations afterwards.

Also important to note, the rockwell hardness of a steel isnt the only quality worth paying attention to, its just one half of the story. I could knock together a chisel blade hardened to 66rhc, and itd be useless because itd be too brittle. Equally important is the toughness of the steel. Dont just look at the numbers for the hardness if you want quality, pay attention to other things. Edge retention, ease of sharpening and wear resistance are all more important than just the hardness, although the hardness of the steel does help determine the other factors.

Basically, if youre wanting to find great cutting tools, compare the intended use to the steels specifics. O1 is a great all-around steel, it had good toughness, working hardness, edge retention and edge quality. Makes for a fantastic razor-sharp cutting tool. Compare that to something like D2, which is miles above in terms of edge retention and toughness, but is a bear to sharpen and doesnt take as keen an edge. It pays to do the research on these things, beyond just the hardness

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