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Thread: can i be a neander too, please please!!?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Southern Louisiana
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    can i be a neander too, please please!!?

    hello neanders,

    not much of a neander myself, ok who am i kidding, i'm not a neander at all, but i do have a desire to learn how to use hand tools.

    my question is in regards to chisels. i need to purchase some chisels for doing some mortises work that i will be attempting. should i buy dedicated mortising chisels or can i buy a more general use chisel and use those for the mortising?

    also what are some good brands that i should look for. i know nothing about hand tools except what i've occasionally read here. so any help would be greatly appreciated.

    also would the "scary sharp" system be worth a look for keeping my tools sharp?

    thanks in advance
    chris (potential neander)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    ozarks
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    chris, i`d hold off on dedicated mortise chisels untill you decide if you really like driving sharp steel into wood ....some folks might have a fit ....but for a starter set i`d suggest getting some stanleys with the metal caps on plastic handles.....beat the heck out of `em, learn to sharpen...then upgrade.....the stanleys will teach you lots about using and caring for chisels, are short enough to be easy to control and if you mess `em up cheap enough that you won`t loose sleep over it.....
    do a search for "power strop" .....stu did a good write up on how to quickly sharpen with little fuss........tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Forest Grove, Oregon USA
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    Hi Chris,

    As regards mortise chisels, some of the best value ones out there are vintage oval bolstered mortise chisels. For new ones, Ray Iles available from Tools for Working Wood are prhaps even better. One only needs 1-3 sizes, depending on what you typically make.

    For good bench chisels at a decent price, Ashley Iles will get you a lot of bang for the buck. Lee Richmond at The Best Things has them with London pattern handles as well as the "normal" handle. I like the London pattern best.

    As for banging out mortises, I like to do it. But it isn't the only way. If you drill out the mortise with a Forstner bit, bench chisels will pare away what is left--hence one can get by without dedicated mortise chisels.

    Sharpening can be a can o' worms. My advice is to pick a system, understand and practice and stick with it before changing. There's lots of ways to sharpen and SS will work just fine. Good paper can be bought at you local autoparts store as long as it carries autobody supplies. Buy a few sheets of several grits, terminating at 1500 or 2000. More sheets for the lower grits. And practice.

    For some a guide is ideal. In most cases, the Eclipse clone side-clamping guide will work well. Available at Woodcraft among other places for cheap.

    Joel at Tools for Working Wood has a good tutorial on hand sharpening:
    http://www.antiquetools.com/sharp/

    Take care, Mike
    Wenzloff & Sons Sawmakers

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I'm with Tod on this one. Buy a cheap set, stanleys or the blue handled guys to start with. Mortise chisels are a nice to have, but don't go for a set, you probably won't make that many different widths of mortises.

    When I win the lottery, I'm getting a set of LN chisels.

    On sharpening, I recommend that you take a class or spend an afternoon with someone who is really good at it. Its not something thats easy to learn from a book. I never realized how sharp they are supposed to be till I took a short class at woodcraft. What an eyeopener!

  5. #5
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    thanks for the great replies. i kinda thought it might be a good idea to buy cheap and practice with them.

    Mike, wow that was alot of info, i'll have to check into some of that stuff later when i have time. thanks

    so tell me. what is going to be the main difference between really good chisels and the cheaper ones. i would suspect it would be some of these reasons...

    1. quality of craftsmanship
    2. better tool steel (allowing for longer edge life)
    3. better handle for more comfort
    4. much prettier

    thanks again for the replies....i'll keep ya'll updated on what i decide to do as it will need to be done soon.

    chris

  6. #6
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Jump right into the hand tools Chris

    I have a set of those stanleys tod mentioned.

    I've been fairly brutal with them. Chopping out wood and hit nails, etc.
    They have held up really well.

    I got the full set from Grainger several years ago. 1/4 to 2"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Forest Grove, Oregon USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Mire View Post
    thanks for the great replies. i kinda thought it might be a good idea to buy cheap and practice with them.

    Mike, wow that was alot of info, i'll have to check into some of that stuff later when i have time. thanks

    so tell me. what is going to be the main difference between really good chisels and the cheaper ones. i would suspect it would be some of these reasons...

    1. quality of craftsmanship
    2. better tool steel (allowing for longer edge life)
    3. better handle for more comfort
    4. much prettier

    thanks again for the replies....i'll keep ya'll updated on what i decide to do as it will need to be done soon.

    chris
    All your points apply to better tools than cheaper ones.

    The AI bench chisels are cost effective in the greater scheme of things. Certainly less expensive than say Barrs.

    In general, I don't subscribe to the philosophy of buy junk and then when one is privileged or talented enough to then purchase something "better." I certainly don't apply that philosophy to my power tools, I won't to hand tools either. So you need to take my advice for what it's worth. Always buy the best you can afford, even if it less "things" at one time.

    About the only compromise I make concerning chisels is to buy an inexpensive set and one or two good ones. Then replace the other inexpensive ones as funds are available. One then has some inexpensive chisels to bash around the house with or to loan to a neighbor.

    As an aside to anyone who reads this, it is helpful when one has made the decision to buy something to give an approximate budget. I won't mention to someone to purchase a $750 set of Barr chisels if the budget is $39.95.

    Take care, Mike
    Wenzloff & Sons Sawmakers

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Nova Scotia's beautiful south shore
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    Chris

    What sort of work do you plan to do (besides those mortises) ? And what sort of investment are you willing to make ?

    There are many paths to becoming a hand tool worker. Some have to do it on the cheap and make allowances for less than perfect tools. Others find it more satisfying to head straight to the "top of the line" tools. And there's plenty of ground in between.

    The old adage "Buy the best tools you can afford" is as true as it ever was. We have more choices, especially on planes and chisels then at any other time, I think (more choices expected very soon, too). And you have choices in how you acquire tools as well - straight from the maker or a retailer, via flea markets and auctions, from reputable used tool dealers.

    Take a good long look at what you want to build - be realistic about your early projects. I'd suggest a trip to the library or bookstore to check out hand tool woodworking.

    I could suggest a general kit of tools for a beginner, but I don't know you or what you want to do. Also, there just is no "one size fits all" answer. Once you have a general idea, you can get lots of more specific advice.
    All the best,
    Ian G

    **Now holding auditions for a catchy new signature**

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
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    Southern Louisiana
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    thanks again mike, i guess i should have been more specific, i am not out to spend a ton of money, but if i could get away with a couple of reallt good chisels i'm on board with you on the buy the best you can idea. thanks for the great info

    jesse, my closest woodcraft is in mobile, which is 3 hours away, but then my brother does live there so that wouldn't be too bad. i may look into that. i'd love to take some sort of class like that. thanks

    steve, i have a few cheap chisels i use for general beating and banging, not very sharp though.

    tod,
    how do you know if you have the correct angle when power stroppin, i did see stu's post, i don't have a lathe or a setup like yours. seems much quicker though.

    thanks
    chris

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    Chris,
    I use scary sharp to sharpen my plane irons and chisels and it is realy very easy to do. I don't have expensive chisels just a set of marples and I can put an edge on em that yout can literly shave with. You just need a very flat surface (I use a piece of marble but others use glass.) Just tape the sand paper to the flat surface and work your way through the grits. I start at around 400 on a realy dull one and work my way up to 2000. Some folks go higher but I haven't found the need. I don't have a guide, I just follow the bevel that is already on the chisel. Try it on you "cheap chisels", it only take a few minutes.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

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