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Thread: Quality Chisels

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Quality Chisels

    Being completely new to woodworking, I have no woodworking tools of my own. I've already narrowed down the list of planes to the ones that will suit my needs in (acoustic) guitar building, and now I need to hone in (pun intended) on some chisels.

    To start, I wil only need a few and would like to buy quality. In reality, I could start off with just two, a cranked-neck chisel and a double-bevel carving chisel. However, I'd like to also get some smaller chisels for clean up of small routed channels and detail work (1/16" & 1/8").

    I don't like buying junk, but I don't want to pay a ton just for a name, either. An average of $50 per chisel is reasonable to me, but will pay more if it is truly a jump in quality.

    For sharpening, I am planning on going the Norton water stone route unless anyone has compelling reasons to try something else.

    Thank you all for your time!

    Josh

  2. #2
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    Josh, if I may suggest that you buy some used chisels and refurbish them. You can look around and get some great quality older chisels for not much money, you might have to make a handle or two, but by doing so they will truly become "Your" tools.

    Go and read this article >> Rehabilitating Old Chisels by Bob Smalser <<

    I think that for very little money and some work you can have some GREAT chisels.

    On the other hand, if you want/need to just buy some decent quality chisels to get started, I have heard nothing but great reviews for the >> Narex Chisels << that Lee Valley sell, $35 gets you a set of four, 1/4", 1/2", 3/4" and 1".

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    Stuart,

    Thanks for the quick response! I was actually thinking about trying to find some old chisels and refurbishing them, but I just don't know what to look for; I wouldn't be able to tell if the steel was any good or not.

    I've heard the same thing about those Narex chisels, but was wondering how good they could really be for that price. I guess it wouldn't hurt to pick some up - worst case, I will have some decent utility chisels...

    Any tips on what to look for in old chisels?

    Thanks again!

    Josh

  4. #4
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    You are welcome Josh!

    In >> THIS << article about chisels there is a list of ones to watch for that should be decent:

    From my observations, anything marked ”Stanley", ”Witherby“, ”Winchester“, ”Chas Buck“ or ”White“ is going to a collector for too high a price…along with some Swan's. Older Greenlee, older (not newer) Buck, New Haven Edge, Ohio Tool, DR Barton, Underhill, Union Hardware, GI Mix, Shapleigh Hardware, Eric Anton Berg, Dickerson, Gillespie, Dixon, PS&W or PEXTO, Robt Duke, Merrill, Butcher, Hibbard OVB, Simmons Keen Kutter, Lakeside and several other old makers are every bit as good as the collector prizes and are much less expensive. Most unmarked chisels of that era were usually made by one of the above makers for some hardware store and are also generally excellent.
    I hope this helps, happy hunting!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Duke View Post
    Stuart,

    Thanks for the quick response! I was actually thinking about trying to find some old chisels and refurbishing them, but I just don't know what to look for; I wouldn't be able to tell if the steel was any good or not.

    I've heard the same thing about those Narex chisels, but was wondering how good they could really be for that price. I guess it wouldn't hurt to pick some up - worst case, I will have some decent utility chisels...

    Any tips on what to look for in old chisels?

    Thanks again!

    Josh
    Josh, welcome to the Family.
    For what you are looking for, antique shops and flea markets are your friends. Often you can find Neander type tools very reasonably priced. With luck you can find them cheap enough to take a chance with even if you are not fully sure of their origin. Don't be afraid to dicker and walk away if the price doesn't suit you.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
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    Stuart,

    That link was great. Good info and straight to the point!

    Frank,

    I'll have to wait until warmer weather for most flea markets around here, but there are a ton of antique shops - I never thought of checking there! Thanks!

    Josh

  7. #7
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    Josh,
    Your getting great advice on the chisels now on sharping, google "Scary Sharp". As an alternative to the stones.Several of us on here use that method.
    "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

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Baer View Post
    Josh,
    Your getting great advice on the chisels now on sharping, google "Scary Sharp". As an alternative to the stones.Several of us on here use that method.
    And some of us don't! I am a water stone man myself. I won't start that debate, but one thing you will need to focus on is flattening the backs of old chisels. There is a method that I have not tried yet, but will someday, and that is a steel flattening plate (kanaban) with diamond paste.

    http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/Merchant/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=toolshop&Produ ct_Code=MS-SFP200&Category_Code=&ScWidth=javascript:ScreenWid th()

    It supposely does a quick job flattening the backs of old chisels.

    Blacky's Boy (aka Dominic Greco) over at Woodnet, uses this technique. I have tried other methods in flattening backs and none are keepers. I have messed around a little with the flattening plate and it does look promising, but I have not done enough to give a definitive response.

    As for water stones, right now I am following Stu (no, not our Stu) from Tools from Japan in his review of 1000 grit stones. I suggest you follow it. He will be reporting soon on it, right now he is teasing us with a build up. http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/wordpress/
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  9. #9
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    +1 on the Narex chisels and the scary sharp method. I bought those chisels when they were on sale at Lee Valley:

    Good morning!
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  10. #10
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    Learn to sharpen on good stones, I like water, but oil are certainly good too, leave the sandpaper for sanding,

    Don't forget when you do flatten the back of a chisel, the last inch or so is all you really need to concentrate on, not the whole back has to be perfectly flat!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

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