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Are Expensive Chisels Worth the Money?

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Blog entry by WoodWorkLIFE posted 02-08-2017 11:03 PM 1929 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently had the opportunity to have chisels from most of the major North American brands; everything from Harbor Freight, Irwin Marples, Stanley Sweetheart, Narex, Lie Nielsen, Veritas, even ALDI workzone. I put them all through there paces: ergonomics, sharpening, flattening, pairing, dovetails, mortise and tenons, even had cut dadoes. I put this video together to sort of sum up the experience, I sort of buried the lead in the video but here are the cliff notes.

Veritas is on it’s own planet in fit and finish, edge retention, utilitiy – all of it

Lie Nielsen is close behind

Modern Stanley Sweetheart 750 – Does almost anything you would ever need it to do, the only thing that would let you down is it is not a true bevel edge.

ALDI – Amazing utility and quality, ash handles, good steel, and great ergonomics, and they are practically free. If you see them, buy them, all of them.

Here is the video I put out about this.


View on YouTube

Thanks for watching,

Rick

Wood.Work.LIFE

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com



4 comments so far

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

1324 posts in 660 days


#1 posted 02-09-2017 07:58 AM

W’W’LIFE, Expensive is ”usually” better than bargain basement... but then again a Rolls Royce with bald tires is not worth a pinch of shite in wet weather.

A mediocre set of chisels well sharpened will serve you better than a well honed chisel out of the shop that is not sharpened/honed regularly.

Invest in a good ”sharpening methodology” is a MUST and you will find that most chisels will serve you well.

However, I will add… with regular sharpening… a good set of chisels will not need to be so regularly….

PS. The magic word is ”honing” (on both sides)...

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Kelster58's profile

Kelster58

298 posts in 379 days


#2 posted 02-09-2017 12:07 PM

That is a great video. Thanks so much for sharing.

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

View WoodWorkLIFE's profile

WoodWorkLIFE

72 posts in 409 days


#3 posted 02-09-2017 12:44 PM


W W LIFE, Expensive is ”usually” better than bargain basement... but then again a Rolls Royce with bald tires is not worth a pinch of shite in wet weather.

A mediocre set of chisels well sharpened will serve you better than a well-honed chisel out of the shop that is not sharpened/honed regularly.

Invest in a good ”sharpening methodology” is a MUST and you will find that most chisels will serve you well.

However, I will add… with regular sharpening… a good set of chisels will not need to be so regularly….

PS. The magic word is ”honing” (on both sides)...

- LittleBlackDuck

You’ve got that right, I found it hard to really differentiate the steels objectively, it really depends on your sharpening methodology. If you like to just keep your chisels sharp, some of the cheaper chisels are actually less of a pain in the dick to sharpen. If you are more interested in edge retention with less frequent sharpenings, then the better steel of the more expensive chisels have you. To me the biggest differentiators were: how much of a pain are they to flatten, the edge geometry, and ergonomics. I think the Veritas wins all of those categories, but since I at least strop a chisel every time I use it, I almost wish the steel was a smidge softer. With regular tasks though, pairing, light chopping, carving it holds a razor edge throughout a whole project.

The cheapy new Stanley Sweetheart 750s are like a Lie Nielsen chisel without the bananas cryo steel. The thing was easy to flatten and held an edge well enough. If your system dictates taking you chisel to the stones more regularly it seems like a great fit for 35$.

I agree on the honing part, I just posted another blog post about my sharpening system. I use a hacked together work sharp system, out of a harbor freight belt sander and some leather disks I lovingly call “Ze FrankenStraup.” The system gets my chisels and irons sharper than they need to be really quickly, the key is always honing and polishing; and getting to a great edge quickly and easily so you can get back to work.

“Remember, to keep your tools sharp, and your mind even sharper”
Rick
Wood.Work.LIFE

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

View WoodWorkLIFE's profile

WoodWorkLIFE

72 posts in 409 days


#4 posted 02-22-2017 04:20 PM



That is a great video. Thanks so much for sharing.

- Kelster58

Thanks,

Glad you liked it!

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

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