Woodworking Talk banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have some chisels but look with awe at videos where there are handsome, polished, and obviously sharp tools being used. I saw an add for chisels from Japan that on average were in the range of $140 each. Or the other extreme of 3 for $10 - 15. I am focusing on luthier if that makes a difference. What do you use and like?

Thanks!

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

·
Village Idiot
Joined
·
4,958 Posts
Dont go for bottom-of-the-barrel and youll do fine. Your medium-range chisels, Baileys and the like in the ~$20 range are going to have well made simple carbon steel blades with good heat treatment, by and large, and thats all you really need. Sure, the fancy exotic hardwood handles and pattern-welded steel bodies polished to a mirror gloss are nice and everything, but they arent going to get the job done any better. Those $140 chisels are just going to empty your wallet faster, and require sharpening a tiny bit less often. They wont make your work any better though, that depends on what you do with them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you dont want to go with the absolute bottom-of-the-barrel stuff because usually the heat treatment of the steel is where costs get cut. Heat treatment is what makes or breaks an edged tool, way more than steel choice. A well-done piece of plain carbon steel will beat our a poorly heat-treated piece of PM-V11 any day of the week.

Personally, ive got a set of Irwin Marples chisels. Plain carbon steel blades, plastic handles, had them for a few years now and think they were less than $40. Put a little elbow grease into lapping the backs when you first get them, sharpen them right and theyll glide through anything you want. Save the super-steels, really theres not a lot of benefit but a whole lot of tradeoffs. Less sharpening for more sharpening time needed, better edge retention for worse edges, etc. As a knifemaker, i maintain that simple carbon steels are where its at unless you have a very specific need
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26,190 Posts
I have some chisels but look with awe at videos where there are handsome, polished, and obviously sharp tools being used. I saw an add for chisels from Japan that on average were in the range of $140 each. Or the other extreme of 3 for $10 - 15. I am focusing on luthier if that makes a difference. What do you use and like?

Thanks!

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
I may have around 40 chisels ranging from expensive german chisels to harbor freight. The only chisel I have that is noticeably better is a homemade chisel I made out of a jointer knife. They all hold an edge about the same except for that one which lasts longer. Learn how to sharpen chisels and most anything will work for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I may have around 40 chisels ranging from expensive german chisels to harbor freight. The only chisel I have that is noticeably better is a homemade chisel I made out of a jointer knife. They all hold an edge about the same except for that one which lasts longer. Learn how to sharpen chisels and most anything will work for you.
I would have no idea how to make a chisel or why I would choose a certain piece of steel over another! I think I will just shell out the money. You know what they say, "Ignorance is... costly."

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

·
Be Nice
Joined
·
279 Posts
I would have no idea how to make a chisel or why I would choose a certain piece of steel over another! I think I will just shell out the money. You know what they say, "Ignorance is... costly."

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
Making some chisels now, but highly recommend purchasing instead of making. I'm only doing it because I have the stock and enjoy blacksmithing as well.



I have a lot of respect for Steve and agree that most any chisel can get the job done, but I've noticed huge differences in feel and performance even between the $10 set of 5 HF chisels and the $10 set of 3 Stanley chisels which are much better. Under light use, they are very similar, but a winner becomes clear when you are doing heavier chiseling like chopping out mortises.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ChuckBarnett

·
Registered
Joined
·
26,190 Posts
I would have no idea how to make a chisel or why I would choose a certain piece of steel over another! I think I will just shell out the money. You know what they say, "Ignorance is... costly."

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
When I took carving classes the teacher commented he liked the carpenter chisels I was using mainly because of the plastic handles. The so called "good chisels" all have wooden handles and you can break the handles even using a wooden mallet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
381 Posts
My favorite chisel is probably considered "cheap" but I like it. Im sure you have all saw the old Ace Hardware see-thru acrylic? handled chisels with the iron end cap on them. Well thats what it is. I found it and a matching 1/4" in the junk pile which later became my shop. I guess it doesnt matter what a tool costs if it gets the job done and you have confidence in it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ChuckBarnett

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
I have an assortment. I have 2 Barr chisels and quite a few Narex. I got the Barrs for a timber frame project I did. They are excellent for heavy work but are costly. The Narex, in my opinion, are very good and very well priced. Both hold an edge very well.

Sent from my Moto E (4) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,151 Posts
My favorite chisel is probably considered "cheap" but I like it. Im sure you have all saw the old Ace Hardware see-thru acrylic? handled chisels with the iron end cap on them. Well thats what it is. I found it and a matching 1/4" in the junk pile which later became my shop. I guess it doesnt matter what a tool costs if it gets the job done and you have confidence in it.

I have a set of 5 of those with Craftsman's name on them. They were my first set of chisels, some 35 years ago. I hate them. The steel is terrible and they simply don't hold an edge. I still use the 1 inch size when I need to chisel something that might have a nail in it, out of spite for Sears.

The handles are lovely, but the steel sucks. I hope yours is from a better batch.

Since then I've acquired chisels one at a time as needed. I have a couple by Fuller from the 80's that are my go-to. Excellent steel.

Last Christmas my son bought me a set of Stanley Sweetheart chisels that look really nice but haven't got around to using one yet. The wooden handles fell off while I was fondling them. Stanley couldn't be bothered to epoxy them on. Hope that's not an omen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
646 Posts
The Stanley Sweethearts are socket chisels. The handles are not supposed to be permanently mounted. The handle is friction set. To change handles, hold the chisel by the blade and rap the side of the handle on your bench or other non-metal surface. I do this whenever I want to use the longer paring handle instead of the standard one.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Determined to figure this sharpening stuff out I took a Stanley 3/4 inch chisel (from an inexpensive 3-pack) and lapped the back of it starting with 150 grit, then 220, then 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, and finally 1500 grit. By the time I got done it was a nice mirror finish. And then I put it on a 1200 grit stone and it seemed to go backwards. I don't understand how sandpaper grit and sharpening stone grit ratings work.

I then went to work on the cutting edge. Started again with 150 on up through the grits using the Veritas MKII jig, set at 25° as that was the closest to my little gage. Seems the chisel came from the factory with a skew to the angle across the edge.

Finally I put it on that superfine stone and frankly I'm not sure that it got better. I have a Grizzly slow 10 inch sharpening wheel with a stropping wheel. Working simply by eye I held the face and then the back onto the strop for 2 or 3 rotations on each surface.

I'm happy to report that I can get a mirror image of a piece of wood in the back lined up with the wood itself. Then I cut the wood off square. That is pretty cool for a guy who's not done much when working!


Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

·
Be Nice
Joined
·
279 Posts
Determined to figure this sharpening stuff out I took a Stanley 3/4 inch chisel (from an inexpensive 3-pack) and lapped the back of it starting with 150 grit, then 220, then 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, and finally 1500 grit. By the time I got done it was a nice mirror finish. And then I put it on a 1200 grit stone and it seemed to go backwards. I don't understand how sandpaper grit and sharpening stone grit ratings work.

I then went to work on the cutting edge. Started again with 150 on up through the grits using the Veritas MKII jig, set at 25° as that was the closest to my little gage. Seems the chisel came from the factory with a skew to the angle across the edge.


Finally I put it on that superfine stone and frankly I'm not sure that it got better. I have a Grizzly slow 10 inch sharpening wheel with a stropping wheel. Working simply by eye I held the face and then the back onto the strop for 2 or 3 rotations on each surface.

I'm happy to report that I can get a mirror image of a piece of wood in the back lined up with the wood itself. Then I cut the wood off square. That is pretty cool for a guy who's not done much when working!

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
Love the post Chuck, and great job on the chisel. In the US, 1500 grit sandpaper is 8.4 microns while a Norton x-fine 1200 grit diamond plate (assuming that is the same) is 11 microns. So the plate is courser than the 1500 sandpaper.
https://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/true-grit-understanding-sharpening-grits/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter #13

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,171 Posts
Love the post Chuck, and great job on the chisel. In the US, 1500 grit sandpaper is 8.4 microns while a Norton x-fine 1200 grit diamond plate (assuming that is the same) is 11 microns. So the plate is courser than the 1500 sandpaper.
https://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/true-grit-understanding-sharpening-grits/
To @JohnTC:
I hate to waste a post just to say thank you, but this chart is so useful and helpful, so - THANK YOU!

To others:
I highly recommend this chart.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top