Irwin Chisels - New to Wood Working

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Blog entry by Muhamad Sara posted 09-09-2010 02:03 AM 19357 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello Everbody,

I’m brand new to wood working and new to lumberjocks and so far everybody on here has been wonderful and welcoming and I just have a quick question.

I’m planning on buying my first set of chisels and I’m thinking about an Irwin 4-piece chisel set. I’ve read many reviews about Irwin Marples Blue Chip chisels but non about this set of Irwin Marple chisels. Are these good chisels? Heres a link:

These are perfect for my price range for now. I know there are a lot better chisels out there but I can’t afford any of those right now. I was also thinking about a set of Craftsmen chisels but I read some reviews on here and decided to stay away from them. I know Irwin makes good/ affordable chisels so I just want to know what you guys think and if anybody knows of any other deals like this in this price range. Thanks!

-- -Muhamad, Chicago,IL

13 comments so far

View jcontract's profile


86 posts in 3325 days

#1 posted 09-09-2010 02:20 AM

Bose. My take. I bought a set of Irwins first as well. They are a decent starter set I think. But mostly for a reason you might not be thinking. If you’re new to woodworking I assume you’re new to sharpening as well. One of the big differences between a set of Irwins and a set of top end chisels is how much work you;re going to need to put in to get the backs flat. Youre gonna need to remove the machine grind marks from the Irwins. A good set will come almost ready to use. I recently took a woodworking course with a master, and he wasnt a big proponent of expensive tools under all circumstances. Good tools dont necessarily need to be costly. Take a look for a swiss made set named pfeil. That’s what he uses. Myself. I’ve moved on to Lie Nielsens and am perfectly happy. But as a starter set, these seemd to be a good choice.

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3886 days

#2 posted 09-09-2010 02:34 AM

I have a 3/4” irwin marples chisel that I use for rough work – it’s a decent chisel, but it’s an older chisel and the blade was made in England, the new ones are made in china – and I don’t know how good the iron is. aside from how quickly you’ll get the chisel up to sharp, another big difference between chisels is how long they’ll keep that edge.

If I were you – I’d look at the Narex chisel set. and leevalley sell a set of 6 for ~50-60, for the added 2 chisels, and the higher quality its more than worth it.

don’t forget you also need to account for the expense of sharpening materials.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3160 days

#3 posted 09-09-2010 02:42 AM

Chisels… I don’t look for brands. The secret is how you sharpen the chisel and how you use it. I both from a store only $2 a 3/4 inch and it is marked CrVad (Meaning chromium vanadium alloyed steel.. same as the tools for car.). I rehardened and tempered it the way I have learned in making plane blades. Now it is my favorite chisel and the sharpest one I had. The tip was really hard to be sharpened but I am too careful on this chisel because I know it is too brittle because of its hardness. I don’t put pressure on sideways that will tend to break the blade.

-- Bert

View Muhamad Sara's profile

Muhamad Sara

29 posts in 3057 days

#4 posted 09-09-2010 04:25 AM

I took a look at the Narex ones but thats twice the price for only two more chisels. Yes I know that its also higher quality but really that is too much for me especially because of shipping, it comes out to be 70 dollars. I will definitely keep them in mind for my next set. I’m gonna go with what Jcontract said and learn to sharpen and take proper care of my new tools. Also, I don’t want to practice sharpening my chisels and be inexperienced when it comes to higher quality ones haha. Thanks guys.

-- -Muhamad, Chicago,IL

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3886 days

#5 posted 09-09-2010 04:31 AM

they’ll do just fine to start with – and at $30, you can always then later use them as beater chisel without having to worry much about them.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View swirt's profile


3558 posts in 3210 days

#6 posted 09-09-2010 05:20 AM

For that price range you might want to look at the Stanley FatMax line. They have ergonomic handles that feel pretty good, but they also have a steel tang that goes all the way through the handle and to the cap. This means that if you eventually get a better set of chisels these will still hold up great for heavy grunt-work and severe pounding. You have to be careful though, not all of them have the solid steel core. The handles are transparent so you can see through them. Only the ones where you can see the steel go all the way through are the ones you want. (I think these are new this year)

I have a couple and they hold up well and sharpen up nice. Not as much fun to use as my vintage Stanleys but they aren’t bad.

-- Galootish log blog,

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3209 days

#7 posted 09-09-2010 05:33 AM

While you are looking in HD at the Irwins you should look at the Buck Brothers chisels right beside them. They are made in the USA and look like knockoffs of the old Stanleys. If you want to go cheap, Harbor Freight has a set of 4 that looks just like the Buck Brothers on sale right now for $5. I bought a set of these for my beater chisels and was shocked to find they are really pretty good. Woodcrafter has an 8 pc set of Woodriver chisels on sale ocassionally. They are around $100 regularly, but on sale they are about $60.

View Muhamad Sara's profile

Muhamad Sara

29 posts in 3057 days

#8 posted 09-09-2010 06:17 AM

@Swirt, I’ve only seen those at Ace and I don’t like Ace…long story. @Crank49, I’ve used the buckbros, the ones that are sold individually,and they are pretty decent but the only ones that I’ve seen come in a set from BuckBros is very poor quality. I think once I go home for the weekend (I’m at my university) I will buy the Irwin chisel set. Thanks again everybody. Now I know what to look for once I’m ready to take my skills to the next level. I’m going to make another blog later on asking about proper care of chisels and hopefully I should be set for a while with my new Irwin chisels and knowing how to properly hone the edges and flatten the back.

-- -Muhamad, Chicago,IL

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 3172 days

#9 posted 09-09-2010 07:15 AM

Take a look at the woodriver chisels (Woodcraft). They are prety much ready to go out of the box.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6349 posts in 3432 days

#10 posted 09-09-2010 04:18 PM

Greetings Bose0225,

Chisels…...Six of one, half a dozen of the other…...the choice is yours…....there are excellent to good to
poor quality… have to decide for yourself…..noone can do it for you…..If you like the Irwin Marples,
go for it…....I bought a set of those a long while back when they were still made in Sheffeld, England, and
they were the 6 pack and box….1/4”—1”. They do for me, but I’m not a hand tool person..I’m power…..

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4552 days

#11 posted 09-09-2010 04:25 PM

There is nothing wrong with used chisels. That rusty thing with the crusty handle for a quarter might just have the best steel around.

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3473 days

#12 posted 09-10-2010 03:06 AM

I have the blue chips, love them. They hold an edge and sharpen well enough for my needs – but I’m not using them 8 hours a day every day. I’ve heard good things about the Narex chisels, the only ding being they’re in metric sizes only, not imperial – but that’s a minor difference.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View Muhamad Sara's profile

Muhamad Sara

29 posts in 3057 days

#13 posted 09-11-2010 10:34 PM

So I bought the Irwin Marples and they are made in China which I don’t like because I would rather have all my tools contribute to our economy and plus, things made in China usually aren’t the same quality as something like these once were. I bought them anyway because i heard good things (I know I went against what i said). I took a look at them and took the 1/4” chisel out of the packaging and it was already damaged so that was a good sign of quality. On a different post, I told PurpLev that they were really dull and he said that is to be expected but the ding in 1/4” chisel didn’t sit to well with me. I returned them and instead got the Craftsman 5 piece set. They are 5 dollars more but you get another chisel (1 1/4”) and they are proudly made in the U.S.A. These also have Sears’ Forever Warranty so if they ever get chipped or the handle gets banged up, the package says I am guaranteed to receive a replacement chisel free of charge. They are decently sharp so now I’m going to learn how to sharpen my new chisels.

-- -Muhamad, Chicago,IL

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