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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have almost no experience with chisels. I have an old what i think is a Stanley butt chisel with a translucent yellow plastic handle. I had it sharpened a few years ago but now the edge is dull and nicked up.
I am going to be doing some large lap joints in some 2x6 cedar and was planing to use a router but would like to most of the wood removal with a chisel to avoid the noise and mess of a router. I will use the router for the final cut. My research so far turned up the following:

A 1 inch wide chisel can vary in price from $11.40 (Nerax) to $70 (Lie Nielsen)

You can't use a brand new chisel out of the box, you have spend hours getting the bottom flat and then putting a sharp edge on the bevel. Doing this isn't trivial and you can buy a honing guide to hold the chisel at the proper angle, but many people seem to prefer doing it freehand.

You don't simply use a hammer or rubber mallet, a special chisel mallet is needed and people seem to prefer the round ones. There are also ones with a rather huge wood block as the striking surface that look like the first hammer ever invented by man.

To sharpen the chisel you use something called a waterstone starting with lower grit number and working up to a higher grit. You can spend a small fortune on waterstones far exceeding the price of a chisel.

This what I propose to buy for this:

Mallet:

Amazon.com: Wood Is Good WD205 Mallet, 18-Ounce: Home Improvement

Chisel (1-1/4 inch big enough to remove a lot of wood but not too big?)

http://thebestthings.com/newtools/ashley_iles_bench.htm

Waterstone:

King 47506 1000/6000 Combination Grit Waterstone - Amazon.com

So I will be spending about $110 just to be able to use a chisel. Any feedback or suggestions appreciated. I don't mind spending the money if it a good investment. I guess I can also use the waterstone on my kitchen knives.
 

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I use waterstones and a jig (veritas) but there are multiple methods that work. Quite a few threads on this subject if you search. Plus U-tube has a lot of video's on sharpening. I would start out with the inexpensive chisels and then decide. make a mallet is an option- helps to hone your skills.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I use waterstones and a jig (veritas) but there are multiple methods that work. Quite a few threads on this subject if you search. Plus U-tube has a lot of video's on sharpening. I would start out with the inexpensive chisels and then decide. make a mallet is an option- helps to hone your skills.
By inexpensive do you mean Narex?
 

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Narex chisel steel is really good = hard, not difficult to sharpen and hone and holds the edge longer than for most of my Pfeil wood carving tools.

May I suggest a book? Find a copy of "The Complete Guide To Sharpening" by Leonard Lee (G.O.M. of Lee Valley). The first 6 chapters, 75 pages, should help a lot.

Absolutely the most important key point in the sharpening process is to learn to hold exactly the same bevel angle in every step of the process. I have some old Marples wood working chisels for rough outs.
They all get done up, evey year or two, at 30 degrees. 300 grit oil stone, 800 grit paper and maybe 1500 grit paper. I have a 30 x 5 x 1" strip offcut from a stone countertop business = flat enough for my purposes, which include 9 different crooked wood carving knives..

The round carver's mallet doesn't slip, you don't have to watch every strike. Polyurethane heads won't bash up a chisel handle. A 12 oz mallet (Shop Fox) doesn't have the momentum to drive a 1" chisel like a 30 oz lead core mallet (Wood-Is-Good) does.
As you go, ask me any time PM
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Narex chisel steel is really good = hard, not difficult to sharpen and hone and holds the edge longer than for most of my Pfeil wood carving tools.

May I suggest a book? Find a copy of "The Complete Guide To Sharpening" by Leonard Lee (G.O.M. of Lee Valley). The first 6 chapters, 75 pages, should help a lot.

Absolutely the most important key point in the sharpening process is to learn to hold exactly the same bevel angle in every step of the process. I have some old Marples wood working chisels for rough outs.
They all get done up, evey year or two, at 30 degrees. 300 grit oil stone, 800 grit paper and maybe 1500 grit paper. I have a 30 x 5 x 1" strip offcut from a stone countertop business = flat enough for my purposes, which include 9 different crooked wood carving knives..

The round carver's mallet doesn't slip, you don't have to watch every strike. Polyurethane heads won't bash up a chisel handle. A 12 oz mallet (Shop Fox) doesn't have the momentum to drive a 1" chisel like a 30 oz lead core mallet (Wood-Is-Good) does.
As you go, ask me any time PM
So is the 18 or 20oz Woodisgood too light?, I need the 30oz?

That book looks like it would help a lot.
 

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Just re-read your first post. Working in cedar, the 20 oz would be just fine.

I have the book sitting beside me, hence my detailed suggestion.
Like Mike1950 says, there are many sharpening methods which work.
The real deal is to pick one, any one, and learn it.

I was a BIG FAN of waterstones, still use them a lot. But for Haida style crooked knife blades, water stones are nearly useless. Sandpaper on a flat surface is a fresh new flat stone every time, yes? Gluing it down is a waste of resources. Masking tape works OK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Guess i will save some money and order the Narex chisel.
I think it will be fine for what I am doing and starting out.
 

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I bought a pair of 1/2" Narex skews from LV, mostly for the price.
My but they did come up "carving sharp" in a hurry!

But, 25 degrees is a big angle to push wood open by hand in carving a wide and deep V-groove. So, I began with oil stones and scrubbed them back to 20 degrees, like most carving gouges. After finishing on a 4K waterstone, I honed them with chrome green.
They were so good that within a week, I ordered a second pair. No regrets at all.
 

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I have several different Narex chisels and would recommend them as well.

I also have that exact water stone and I use it for everything. It doesn't take hours to flatten the back of a chisel unless you try to flatten it with the 6000x water stone.

When I have needed to flatten the backs of chisels/plane irons I started with 220x paper on a piece of glass (use anything that is good and flat) and then proceeded up to the water stone to remove most of the scratches from the sandpaper. If you have some or want to get some - you can speed up the process by using some 400x or 600x after the 220x and before the 1000x.

You could also save a lot of money by just making your own mallet. Here is a thread from an earlier mallet swap that many members participated in: http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f6/mallet-swap-part-deux-pictures-47414/

You can see there are many different types/styles of mallets and a mallet doesn't have to be fancy. For a long time I just used a piece of oak 2x. I just smoothed the edges with some sandpaper to make it easier to grip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Is there any consensus for a beginner if a honing guide should be used or would be helpful?
Most of the videos I watch of pros doing it are using a guide instead of freehand.
I didn't realize using a chisel was going to be so involved, maybe i will just do it all with the router after all, but I know chisels are really useful.
I am saving a lot of money by building this myself so spending $35 on a mallet doesn't bother me in the least, i have other things to do with my time than making tools.
Woodworking isn't really a hobby for me I just need to learn enough to get by.
 

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As a beginner, I think a honing guide is important - especially if you are only occasionally going to be sharpening chisels, etc.

IMO the best honing guide out there is the Veritas MkII guide from Lee Valley.

If you are only going to sharpen one or two chisels occasionally, you might consider the much cheaper side clamping guides that just about everybody sells. I used one for years before I bought the MkII and it did a very satisfactory job on everything except my narrowest chisels (1/8" and 1/4").
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
As a beginner, I think a honing guide is important - especially if you are only occasionally going to be sharpening chisels, etc.

IMO the best honing guide out there is the Veritas MkII guide from Lee Valley.

If you are only going to sharpen one or two chisels occasionally, you might consider the much cheaper side clamping guides that just about everybody sells. I used one for years before I bought the MkII and it did a very satisfactory job on everything except my narrowest chisels (1/8" and 1/4").
Thanks for the tip on the guide. I can't justify spending the money on the Veritas if the cheaper one will do.
But I think I just contradicted myself by saying I could spend money on a mallet, oh well.
 

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While I don't have any Narex chisels I don't see very much difference in any brand. I have some Harbor Freight chisels that hold an edge as long as some of the more expensive carving chisels I have. I like to use the waterstones to sharpen them.
 

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At this stage of your journey into woodwork , don't buy a mallet or new chisels .
Put that money towards buying basic sharpening equipment .
Then use that to sharpen the tools you already have .
Next , get your hands on a lump of wood , and carve yourself a mallet .

Something like this will do




After that , if you feel the need , you can put your newly learnt skill into carving a better one .

Keep in mind that the fanciest , most expensive tools in the world does not make anyone a better manual worker than they already are .
Practice does that
 

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SN: I see a difference in the time line for keeping a tool "carving sharp" for hand carving. It's really easy to tell when I have to push "just a little harder" to get the same cut. And, I might make hundreds or more of the same cuts in a session. Narex steel is good.
MJ: I have two of those log mallets! One for log busting in the mountains and one for clean-up with a froe when I get home.
JNBROWN: I have drawn "angle cards" for every tool angle that I need. I lock my elbows to my sides and match the tool shank to the angle on the card. Pull strokes only. At the end of each stroke, STOP. Lift the tool straight up and back to the top, down again, another pull stroke.
= = =
I'll never buy a sharpening jig because I may need to hone a wide variety of tools from 28 degrees to as little as 6 degrees. Plus, a jig is totally useless for crooked knives.
 

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MJ: I have two of those log mallets! One for log busting in the mountains and one for clean-up with a froe when I get home.
yep , they're great eh , one for every occasion .

I have turned carving mallets for friends , some of whom are amongst the top of their craft in the world .
They still prefer the ones that they knock up out of scrap .

Mine get a bit of a knock now and again , out of politeness I reckon :laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
At this stage of your journey into woodwork , don't buy a mallet or new chisels .
Put that money towards buying basic sharpening equipment .
Then use that to sharpen the tools you already have .
Next , get your hands on a lump of wood , and carve yourself a mallet .

Something like this will do




After that , if you feel the need , you can put your newly learnt skill into carving a better one .

Keep in mind that the fanciest , most expensive tools in the world does not make anyone a better manual worker than they already are .
Practice does that
Maybe I should go find a large tree and carve my 37" x 55" gate out of that instead of using 2x6s :laughing:
 

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I have almost no experience with chisels. I have an old what i think is a Stanley butt chisel with a translucent yellow plastic handle. I had it sharpened a few years ago but now the edge is dull and nicked up.
I am going to be doing some large lap joints in some 2x6 cedar and was planing to use a router but would like to most of the wood removal with a chisel to avoid the noise and mess of a router. I will use the router for the final cut. My research so far turned up the following:

A 1 inch wide chisel can vary in price from $11.40 (Nerax) to $70 (Lie Nielsen)

You can't use a brand new chisel out of the box, you have spend hours getting the bottom flat and then putting a sharp edge on the bevel. Doing this isn't trivial and you can buy a honing guide to hold the chisel at the proper angle, but many people seem to prefer doing it freehand.

You don't simply use a hammer or rubber mallet, a special chisel mallet is needed and people seem to prefer the round ones. There are also ones with a rather huge wood block as the striking surface that look like the first hammer ever invented by man.

To sharpen the chisel you use something called a waterstone starting with lower grit number and working up to a higher grit. You can spend a small fortune on waterstones far exceeding the price of a chisel.

This what I propose to buy for this:

Mallet:

Video Link: http://www.amazon.com/Wood-Is-Good-WD205-18-Ounce/dp/B002LVUWQ8

Chisel (1-1/4 inch big enough to remove a lot of wood but not too big?)

http://thebestthings.com/newtools/ashley_iles_bench.htm

Waterstone:

Video Link: http://www.amazon.com/King-47506-1000-Combination-Waterstone/dp/B001DT1X9O

So I will be spending about $110 just to be able to use a chisel. Any feedback or suggestions appreciated. I don't mind spending the money if it a good investment. I guess I can also use the waterstone on my kitchen knives.
While I don't have any Narex chisels I don't see very much difference in any brand. I have some Harbor Freight chisels that hold an edge as long as some of the more expensive carving chisels I have. I like to use the waterstones to sharpen them.
There is quite a bit if difference in chisels. Steve's statement only amounts to not using chisels much.


Narex are pretty good but I find them a bit brittle. It's a trade off - chromium to reduce rusting also reduces the durability of the steel.

The best, and by best I mean bang for buck, out there is, I believe, vintage chisels. Old iron. Pretty much anything with a socket will be a decent chisel so long as no one has previously destroyed the temper with imprudent grinding - still better than a HF chisel though. HF chisels are about as useful and and soft as a cheap egg turner. And for the record, yes I tried them and I tried properly hardening and tempering them but no improvement - it's low carbon steel.

If you are willing to do some grinding and have the means I would suggest vintage, otherwise Narex is not a bad second choice. If you plan to only use / sharpen them very rarely (a shame) you might consider abrasive paper for sharpening as a cheaper alternative to stones.
 
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