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Thread: chisels

  1. #1
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default chisels

    Do you all have a favorite brand? I was looking at a new set and saw the wood river chisels and thought they would be nice. Any suggestions? I have an old set of Blue Chip but they have been pressed into service doing a lot of other stuff and I would like a bench set that stays strictly at the bench. Not a job site or working on floors and any other crazy stuff. Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: chisels

    I have old set of Narex chisels. That is my general use set. Mostly because they're local brand and available in every HW store around but this set with all plastic handles (black rubbery plastic that is nearly indestructible - I don't know if they still produce this kind) had proven quite adequate for general work. Not as great as some expensive chisels but OK and they are thick for heavier splitting and I've used them as fret hammer for nearly 20 years. By holding them in hand between thimb and fingers (metal side up of course) you have very good control over direction and strength of the hits and you can take lighter or heavier gauge as needed.
    But by far the best chisel I have is old "CAST STEEL" gouge that I dug out of the dirt while helping around garden of our church. Really. It was rusty as hell and no trace of handle left but after grinding off layer of rust I got to clear metal with just moderate pitting and edge clear of defects so I sharpened it and WOW that is some steel! The very edge is brittle so you should not hit nail or something but in wood it stays razor sharp forever. And it takes SUPER sharp edge. It is most likely one of the old "Sheffield" or English chisels with CAST STEEL stamped on the back. I always use it for the finest cuts in soft woods where the blase slices like knife through butter.
    You can sometimes find them on arage sales from old folks or on ebay. BTW, the blade consists of extremely hard layer (I think Tungsten steels were used for these) that takes the edge (1/16" thick on mine) and the rest is softer steel. Makes it relatively easy to sharpen even with that really hard edge.
    Adrian

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  4. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    I have one set of chisels; Freud 1/4" through 1" bevel edge. They are usable, will take a good edge though it is not a particularly durable edge, they're kind of short and the handles are not offset for paring.
    Otherwise I have an assortment of yard sale, tool auction, junk shop chisels of various descriptions, firmer, bevel edge, socket, etc. in various lengths and widths. When I get such chisels I rehab them (they're always damaged by rough use and poor sharpening) and see if they take and hold a good edge. If they do I keep and use them. If not, they become utility tools for rough work, scraping, prying whatever. Because of that approach the ones I use are all good chisels, but they certainly are not a specific brand nor are they a set.

    If getting a set of new chisels, look for offset handles like "the old days" and try to get good steel. Brand is unimportant; quality is.

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  6. #4
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    Yea it seems looking at yard sales might be a better option once this Arctic blast leaves. We won’t have yard sale season for a few months yet.
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  7. #5

    Default Re: chisels

    Like clamps, you can never have too many chisels. Since hobby-woodworker name brand ones cost 100:1 over garage sales, my strategy is obvious! What Adrian refers to, an edge of harder steel, was common on edge tools up to about 18XX because actual steel, “cast” in small batches, was expensive and forge-welded onto wrought iron or low carbon stems. You can usually see the join, or disclose it if you etch to clean up the rust. No real magic, just high carbon steel tempered a bit harder than one might dare with a whole tool. So yes, many of these are very good. It’s a little like our carbide-tooth saw blades in that regard.
    While hobby woodworkers are susceptible to all sorts of bull****, and therefore merit derision, and the expensive name brands are not what they used to be, and sharpening has become some kind of neurotic religion, it is possible to find, clean and test shapes and bevels to suit one’s intent, without either great cost or effort.
    Even for the very simple work I do, I’ll often try half a dozen shapes before settling on one for a task.

  8. #6
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    I’m dabbling in knife making a bit so maybe I need to run to the scrap yard and get a leaf spring. Give it a shot and see if I can make one I like and is durable.
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  9. #7
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Like clamps, you can never have too many chisels...
    Maybe, but you don't have to sharpen clamps!
    If I have enough chisels to just grab another and avoid sharpening, eventually I have a huge backlog of dull chisels and have to spend hours sharpening! (I think there are only 3 waiting over on the sharpening bench right now.)

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  11. #8
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    I don't like to sharpen every day but when I do I enjoy sitting down and just focusing on it. I find it very relaxing.
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  12. #9
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    Default Re: chisels

    I was lucky enough to find a set of Stanley bench chisels at a garage sale a couple of years ago. They were the 50s 60s vintage made in the USA. Brand new still sealed on their hanger cards. 1/4" thru 1-1/4". 3 bucks each total 18 bucks. That USA steel sharpened up scalpel sharp. I accidentally brushed my finger across one while reaching for another tool. Didn't feel a thing. Then that red stuff started dripping on my project. Hate when that happens. Band aids please!
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  13. #10
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    Look for early to mid 20th century chisels at garage sales and flea markets; anything from back when common people used their hands to work. The old Buck Brothers are always reliable.

  14. #11
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    I am a whittler, not a luthier. So, FWIW:
    I bought a set of Wood River hand chisels about two years ago. I have used the 1/4" chisel a lot and the 1/2" chisel some. I haven't even sharpened the 3/4" and 1" chisels. I find that they take a good edge and hold it well. I don't have experience with older chisels, so I can't compare.

    I have no reason to believe the larger chisels are any different from the 1/4". I can say they are esthetically very nice - easy on the hands and well put together. I am happy with the one I use but I kind of laugh at myself for having bought the whole set.
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  15. #12

    Default Re: chisels

    Two Cherries, good quality German steel. Actually, American made chisels from the earlier part of the 20th century can sometimes be found cheaply at flea markets. Some were of good quality carbon steel. If you get blue sparks off the grinder you're in business.

  16. #13
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    Default Re: chisels

    I bought an 1/8" dental chisel off ebay that is really handy because it's only about 6 in long. I have to assume it was originally used for plaster casts and not oral surgery...

  17. #14

    Default Re: chisels

    Quote Originally Posted by SBJ View Post
    I bought an 1/8" dental chisel off ebay that is really handy because it's only about 6 in long. I have to assume it was originally used for plaster casts and not oral surgery...
    At the other end, I have a thing called a slick. About a 3” wide x 8” blade on a two-foot long handle. Used for paring mortise and tenon joints in timberframe. And another half round in-cannel one big enough to carve wooden rain gutters. Neither one meant to be hammered! And then the scorps, adzes, sunplanes and...

  18. #15
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    I too have gotten almost all my had tools from flea markets, yard sales, etc., and like John, I just use them for a while to see if they hold an edge well, and get rid of them if they don't. They're cheap and abundant (at least in certain parts of this country). If they don't have handles I buy the socket handle style and make new octagonal handles for them.

  19. #16

    Default Re: chisels

    Mine are all old, made in the USA, Keen Kutter, Eversharp, Stanley. The older the beter. Sometimes found on eBay, at flea markets & farm auctions. There are also very nice imports from Japan and Germany, Dunlap, MATSUMURA, etc.

  20. #17

    Default Re: chisels

    I like my Lakeside and my homemede ones too. The little xacto is suprisingly helpfull.
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  21. #18

    Default Re: chisels

    Here is another small town antique shop find. An unfamiliar brand, Kress made in Germany. It has the dreaded mushrooming from being struck with a hammer without its wood handle.

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  22. #19

    Default Re: chisels

    Quote Originally Posted by MrMoe View Post
    Here is another small town antique shop find. An unfamiliar brand, Kress made in Germany. It has the dreaded mushrooming from being struck with a hammer without its wood handle.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I would stay away from the chisels at the big box stores. Inferior metal and handles that just don’t fit the hand. For general use I like the old Stanley’s with the amber handles, or better yet the Stanley’s with the black handles if you can find them. I’m of the camp that searches yard sales and flea markets to find such tools. I was given a set of socket handle chisels and those are used for finer work. Keep you tools sharp and let them do the work.

  23. #20

    Default Re: chisels

    My Marples set is from the early 80's and have never let me down.
    I made the mistake of loaning one out once, and the guy chipped a corner off trying to chisel a hole in 1/4" Masonite.
    Never again.

  24. #21
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    I found all my marples blue chip chisels and although the big one needs a serious reshaping and sharpening they are working very well. I used them mostly for construction not done work but after a clean up and sharpen they will work well.
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  25. #22
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    The old wooden handled Marples that I've used are great chisels. The ones with the blue plastic handles have been some good and some less-than-good. Maybe it depends on the age... don't know.

  26. #23
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    Mine are from lately 90’s or early 2000’s, honestly I don’t remember. They hold an edge well enough although I do have some steel blades that hold a better, these aren’t terrible. Considering they were inexpensive box store chisels they are much better than I expected.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  27. #24
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    Default Re: chisels

    My set of Marples is from the late 70's or so. The steel is really good and going strong. You can get a mirror finish and they hold an edge for a long time. They'll be around after I'm gone.

  28. #25
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: chisels

    Hmm, since mine have been abused doing home construction and such they won't hold up like bench chisels that only see wood. I have seen people including me take mine to scrape construction adhesive off of boards and concrete in a pinch. That is one big reason the largest is really used. But now I have other tools for that and these are becoming bench chisels and it seems the blades are actually pretty nice. and They are polishing up nicely as well. I will be curious to see how they hold up to Black Walnut, Cherry, Spruce, Cedar and such.

    Kind of off on a tangent but does anyone else take old handsaw blades and cut them into scrapers? I have one I am thinking of doing this with. In my mind, it seems like a good way to get shapes I want to need.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

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