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My Favorite Chisels...you'd be surprised.

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Blog entry by reedwood posted 05-02-2014 02:30 PM 966 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch


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Every time I go to Woodcraft, I always look at the nice selection of Pheil carving chisels,
the Crown rosewood handled chisels, the Lee Nielsen and Robert Sorby lathe and bench sets,

The SW Stanley 8 pc. chisel set with leather roll case looked cool too.
Even the Wood River chisel sets in a case looked nice and seemed like a good value.

I like em all.

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I recently purchased Bailey’s new wood handled 5 chisel set online for 69.00 and free shipping.
They looked decent so I thought I’d give them a try. How can you go wrong for that price? I like them.

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And then there’s my trusty set of Craftsman chisels. Yes, I said Craftsman.

My daily users.
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They have metal caps so you can hammer on them all you want. No need to search for a wood mallet.
They have rock hard plastic handles that won’t splinter or break in the winter time.

They’re long and ergonomic … not that attractive,
but, a longer handle means, less chance of hitting the ol’ thumb’s ball sack … God, that hurts.

Won’t roll off the bench, neither.

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They’re American made and hold a sharp edge as good as my expensive chisels.

Guaranteed for life and cheap enough you don’t mind lending them out or abusing them.

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Note to wives and mothers: They make a great Christmas gift for a well deserving woodworker.
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The extra 1 1/4” chisel is perfect for remodeling and fits nicely in your nail bag.
The older Craftsman chisels had round handles that were clear and blue …. Cave men used these.

They switched to black handles in the 90s. Still has the lifetime guarantee.

I like to put a little saw dust in the chisel pocket to protect the apron from the sharp edge.

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You can sharpen it with a belt sander on the job, ... I sure wouldn’t do that with my crown chisels!

You can use it as a pry bar or use it in the rain and mud building decks.
This simple tool is an American work horse ….. You can’t destroy it.

If you do, they’ll give you another one. Hey, that works for me.

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There are other affordable chisel sets out there. The box store Stanley’s look OK, ... haven’t used them yet.
Everyone seems to like Narex which look just like the Baileys. The blue handled Irwin’s seem decent.

There’s Lee Valley and Veritas chisel sets too. But, no matter the brand, they say it’s all about the steel.

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I also have a well used set of German steel Mifer’s chisels for mortise work that you could shave with.
I don’t display them – they’re kinda beat up … and I don’t loan them out.
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I haven’t used those pricey 750 SW Stanley’s yet …. makes no sense. They do look cool in the fancy tool box.
But, these Craftsman chisels, you just can’t beat them ….. well, actually you can.

I guess that’s my point.
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Funny how after all these years, wishing I had better chisels and now that I have some,
I never use them….. afraid I might scratch em. Ha! ..... wtf

And, here I am talking about my old cheap craftsman chisels like we were long lost friends.
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Come to think of it, we did some of our best work together.

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-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.



3 comments so far

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

3990 posts in 981 days


#1 posted 05-02-2014 05:37 PM

imho, it’s all about the steel… and good steel can be found in some surprising places. Especially the old stuff.

My first “good” chisels were Marples split proofs (yellow and red handles, which were one level above the Blue Chips) bought a set of four some 20 years ago. I’ve always been very happy with them, and once I learned scary sharp, I was pretty impressed with the edge I could get.

But I lost one, and then later I wanted to add a couple sizes, so two years ago, I ordered a couple brand new individuals off e-bay. They shipped from England, as apparently Marples has changed their marketing arrangements. The Blue Chips now sell under the Irwin name, and the Split Proofs are not available on this side of the pond.

Identical handle…. BUT…. not identical steel :^(

They are now “finished” in England, from steel blanks that come from China :^(

And what should be the exact same chisels don’t hold an edge nearly as well :^(

They also have course machining marks, which the old ones do not have :^(

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3659 posts in 1817 days


#2 posted 05-02-2014 07:32 PM

My oldest chisels, mostly used for glue chisels, are a set of Craftsman chisels with Swedish steel…........made in the Netherlands. Probably purchased about 1970. I have a bunch of cheap Great Neck chisels, and with my WorkSharp I can resharpen them in a flash. I would reverse which ones are for what, but the Craftsman set was just four chisels, one has been replaced with something else, etc. But I keep my glue chisels as sharp as the rest, so sometimes I find myself doing woodwork with the glue chisels…........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2385 posts in 2090 days


#3 posted 05-02-2014 08:00 PM

I have some old craftsman chisels but I also have a mixed set of long handle ones that I purchased off a boat maker in Camden Maine back in the 70’s. He was in his 80’s then and retired and wanted to sell his tools. I bought a bunch of stuff from him then. The chisels are still being used today. I do need new handles though on some of them.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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