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wood chisels

Discussion in 'Tools and Materials' started by mark1a, 28 Dec 2018.

  1. mark1a

    mark1a

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    Ive been after some decent wood chisels for some time. Im the sort of person that only likes to buy once so looks for quality. Ive seen the Irwin's

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marples-Ir...1873&sr=8-3&keywords=irwin+marples+chisel+set

    and

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Irwin-High...926&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=irwin+marples+ms750

    Was out the other day and as I was looking a guy who said he did a lot of wood working recommended Stanley

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stanley-Dy...545992066&sr=8-7&keywords=stanley+chisel+sets but from a high street shop for only £20!

    Personally id love the MS750 for the through tang and Irwin quality


    so the guys who know their tools, which would you go for and why?
     
  2. wgt52

    wgt52

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  3. EddieM

    EddieM

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    pfiel :D
     
  4. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    Irwin quality? That's a joke these days. IMHO they are trading (falsely) on reputation. Modern Irwin (Marples) blue chip and lollipop (red/yellow handle) chisels aren't a patch on the ones once made in Sheffield so recommending them based on Sheffield-made ones you bought 30 years ago just doesn't work. Having moved Irwin chisel production from Sheffield to Italy circa 2002/03 when they shut down Record's Parkway Works, Irwin have since moved production to China. TBH whilst the Italian ones weren't that good, the Chinese ones are terrible.

    I bought a couple of MS750s this summer. The first one just wouldn't hold an edge, the second chipped every time it was used on hard oak. To my mind that indicates sloppy hardening and/or poor quality steel (but then Irwin is all about profit before quality - just look at their crappy tape measures). So a complete waste of time. I still do better with (modern) Stanley Fat Max through tang chisels on site work. At least I can chop oak with them, although TBH they aren't as good as some of my older chisels. And the Fat Max through tang chisels are still made in the UK (in Sheffield). My "best" chisels are a partial set of Ashley Iles mk.2 bevel edge cabinet maker's chisels from Workshop Heaven. I retain them for work where I'm not smashing out mortises or using a hammer (in other words I baby them), but they don't chip and they do hold an edge, unlike any other modern chisel I've used
     
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  5. Notch7

    Notch7

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    For a set of chisels with really good steel, have a look for stanley 5001 (black) or stanley 5002 (blue).

    These are old, so only available second hand, often available on ebay.

    Of course old chisels will need the primary bevel re grinding.

    Even new chisels will need fettling to get them razor sharp.
     
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  6. mark1a

    mark1a

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    Thanks guys. I understand what people say by quality.

    JoK I was on they very site as i was typing on here and I think I will getting some Ashley Iles but will have to save up. they will probably last me the 40 or 50 years i got left hopefully. so for this year got the fatmax and will then use them for rough.


    whats the general thought on Stanley products? i know its Dewalt, MAC with B&Dwith the first 2 making good quality again from what i read or seen
     
  7. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    I started out in the early 1970s building up a set of Stanley 5001s which at the time were much derided by the older joiners who by then tended to use Marples lollipops out on site (with some of the workshop wallahs preferring Blue Chip chisels for cabinet work). Over the years, however, the 5001s proved to be good chisels, if perhaps a tad on the soft side. The one thing they won't take, though, is being hit with a hammer (and who the heck carries a wooden mallet to site these days?) Stanley stopped making them something like 25 or more years back which makes building-up a full set now quite difficult. It's easy enough to find the narrower chisels (up to 1in/25mm), but above that they have become increasingly rare in good condition. And frankly there's no use buying a chisel which is already 75% used up (and yes having 1-1/4 and 1-1/2in is very handy indeed when chopping in hinges and locks, 2in less so I find). So I finally caved-in and went to Fat Max through tang chisels a few years back simply because they are designed to take all the abuse that site work can mete out; smacking them with a hammer won't shear-off the handle on a very cold day like it can do on a 5001 or a Marples lollipop (seen both done). I've tried out other chisels over the years, too, for example I still have a set of Bahco 424 chisels - they look good, are well machined, but the handles are a bit brittle (chip when cold and struck with a hammer) and the tool edges on mine chip out far too easily (suspect that they are too hard), but they take a good edge.

    A couple of points about Fat Max chisels: they have 10, 15 and 20mm sizes in the range which are ideal for cleaning-out intumescent strip grooves after the decos have filled them with gloss paint, they do 16, 18 and 22mm sizes which match a lot of sheet materials, they go up to a full 50mm should you need it, the backs (of mine) were reasonably flat out of the box (against the Irwin MS750s I had which were bent like bananas), but the smallest Fat Max is 6mm so you may need a narrower chisel from another range (e.g. Bahco 424) if your work requires a 4mm chisel, and they are really a firmer bevel edge design meaning that you aren't going to be able to chop out dovetails with them. They can't be such a bad design. After Irwin saw fit, belatedly, to make a copy of them (in the MS750) which may indicated that they have an increasing market share

    The Ashley Iles chisels I have, including a couple of their dovetail chisels are very reminiscent of the old wooden-handled thin bevel edge chisels that some of the old-timers had when I started work. Nice and light and work into small spaces well

    Some of their stuff has always been good and well-regarded by the trades, e.g. Fat Max tape measures, Fat Max spirit levels (apparently still made in the UK at what used to be Rabone's in Brum), mobile tool boxes, hammers (I prefer their all-welded hammers over Estwings), utility knives (like the Titan), chalk lines, etc. Some products, like the hand planes, are still pretty ropey, but Stanley in Sheffield is being used to manufacture the Sweatheart range of chisels which are well regarded in the USA. I don't think that Stanley has ever gone away, just that the range of hand tools we use has diminished over the last 40 years, but every tradesman I've ever met has at least a couple of Stanley tools in their toolbox.

    Oddly enough Stanley Black & Decker actually bought Irwin, Lenox and Hilmor brands from Newell Brands (Rubbermaid) in 2017 - and the Irwin range includes former Record and Marples products (which are often rubbish these days)
     
    Last edited: 29 Dec 2018
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  8. foxhole

    foxhole

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    Make sure you have a mallet, waste of time buying quality then hitting them with a hammer.
     
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  9. mark1a

    mark1a

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    My very old wood work teacher was very old school. One of the things I took from him was never use metal hammer on wood unless it's for destruction. So know that a mallet is one of the few tools I was allowed to take from my grandfather when he passed. Cheers
     
  10. Notch7

    Notch7

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  11. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    FYI through-tang chisels with metal striking caps are specifically designed so that they can be struck with a hammer. They are the only type of general woodworking chisels I know of which are designed to withstand this type of abuse, although there are some solid steel chisels made for the timber framing trades (i.e. green oak) which are made to be struck with a club hammer if needs be
    Stanley Fat Max through tang chisel 001-01.jpg
    AFAIK the Stanley Fat Max and Irwin MS750 designs are the only two chisels available on the UK which have this feature. It stands to reason, though, that any chisel with a wooden or all-plastic handle iusn't designed to be struck with a hammer - although many real world situations often result in just such abuse being necessary
     
  12. foxhole

    foxhole

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    If you need to use a hammer on a wood chisel its blunt.
     
  13. EddieM

    EddieM

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    You could of course consider Japanese chisels, they can be eye wateringly expense, especially as a lot of the best ones aren't generally exported. NOTE: I have only read about them, I don't own any.
     
  14. mark1a

    mark1a

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    cheers for the all the info guys. i will be saving up and when i can afford a quality set on discount, i will sure to post a photo

    Thanks again
     
  15. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    Oh, really? On new softwoods, MDF or the average softwood-lipped flush door when making a paring cut you are, of course, quite right - when having to chop pockets into 150 year old pitch pine, or chop-out hardware recess in (new) solid oak, or even just defining the edges of a hinge or lock face plate recess (where you are of necessity severing cross grain fibres) you are just so wrong. Even chopping out a lock mortise in a chipboard core door cannot be done without either a hammer or a mallet to drive the chisel especially when working at the bottom of the cut - hitting the end of a chisel handle with the flat of the palm as some joiners do is asking for permanent and painful hand injury. Hence the use of driving tools - and the need (at least in site and fitting work) for a chisel which can be struck and driven with a hammer or mallet. I've even dug old registered chisels out of walls on refurbs which have been walled-up for 150 years or more - and they always seem to show signs of heavy use and of having been driven by a hammer (spelched timber fibres within the steel ferrule at the top of the handles)

    In the late 1970s there was a lot of interest in these with Roger's Tools (he later of VBM lathes fame) selling them in the UK. I tried a couple of them at the time. For general site work and carpentry I found that they are just far too brittle. You need to realise that most are made to work with softwoods and the relatively mild hardwoods they use in Japan (e.g. Japanese oak, Japanese birch, meranti, luaun, etc) and not the much harder and knottier hardwoods we often work with here. Whilst they take a good edge, thanks to their laminated structure, they need a lot more work to keep them tuned because they all have a hollow ground back. The ones I bought back then also required the backs to be completely flattened (lapped on a stone) before first use which was a time-consuming labourious task. In addition they require the use of relatively quickly wearing waterstones to sharpen them properly - which can add considerably to expense of ownership (and again because waterstones are far softer than Western stones they, too, need to be lapped out flat periodically). There's quite good explanation of the sharpening methods over at Dieter Schmid Fine Tools if you are interested. Note how Japanese chisels are specifically designed with a metal hoop at the top so that they can be driven by a specialised metal (steel) hammer.

    Actually, used in the right environment on the right materials they can be a delight to use, but they are a high maintenance tool IMHO. I'm not opposed to exotic tools, for example I use some really neat Japanese saws where there really is no equivalent made here in the West, but in general they have a steeper learning curve (in usage and sharpening) and I find that in most of the environments I work in they are just too fragile for a long life (same goes for the saws, sadly)
     
    Last edited: 1 Jan 2019
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