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View Jonathon Carrell's profile

Bench Chisel Recommendations?

by Jonathon Carrell
posted 12-13-2016 07:36 PM


25 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

10385 posts in 3645 days


#1 posted 12-13-2016 07:53 PM

People seem to like the Narex chisels, made
by Czechs I think.

I like Japan chisels too but they are a little
more expensive from reputable dealers. You
can’t really tell much about the quality from
appearance so you have to take the dealer’s
word. Grizzly sells a set that’s pretty inexpensive
compared to others but I don’t think they
are likely as good as the ones sold by Lee
Valley, for example.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

4996 posts in 1136 days


#2 posted 12-13-2016 08:06 PM

If I were going to buy new, I think I’d go for a set of the Narex. Lots of people love them and I haven’t heard many complaints about them. That’s assuming my budget didn’t allow for a set of Lie Nielsens.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View WillliamMSP's profile

WillliamMSP

1084 posts in 1602 days


#3 posted 12-13-2016 08:06 PM

Narex are one of the favorites ‘round these parts for decent budget chisels. The WR chisels feel pretty nice (I’ve only fondled them in-store), but reviews seem to indicate that initial set-up (flattening and sharpening) can be a bit of a chore. No idea on the Stanley set, but I have a new Stanley 750 chisel that’s pretty decent – I see that Amazon has the 4-piece 750 set on sale for 83 bucks – I’d probably do that instead of the other Stanley set.

Now, because someone else is going to say it: do you really need a set? You might be better served by a couple of appropriately-sized (depending on your work) high-quality chisels. Many start off with a 1/2” LN chisel and go from there.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View bigJohninvegas's profile

bigJohninvegas

448 posts in 1459 days


#4 posted 12-13-2016 08:19 PM

I took some classes at a woodworking school that had these Narex chisels. Wound up with a set of my own..
They hold an edge very well. Had the set of seven for about 4 years now.

http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=67707&cat=1,41504

-- John

View jayseedub's profile

jayseedub

127 posts in 1963 days


#5 posted 12-13-2016 08:24 PM

I have the 1/4”, 1/2” and 1” Narex chisels, and they’re solidly good. I don’t really like the material the handles are made out of (hornbeam, I believe—picky, picky, actually)—it seems kind of light-weight—though they’ve stood up to my mallet well.

I will say that the Narex chisel I used last night, and casually put down on my bench, happened to roll off and landed point-down on my concrete floor, which really made me wish I had gotten a non-round, non-rolling handle. A small detail, but something to consider.

The bevel edge is so sharp that I’ve cut my fingers on the side of the chisel, too.

I also bought the Aldi chisels ($10 for four?), sharpened one, and they are surprisingly great (though quick to need resharpening).

I have three Stanley chisels with the yellow clear urethane (?) handles, and those served me well for a long time. I liked that the handles were grippy, that they didn’t roll—but I never felt like I could sharpen them terribly sharp (not sure why that is). They also seemed to rust easier than my other chisels and they’re longer than I want them to be. But they do the job.

I don’t think you need to be too worried about what you get—just keep them sharp.

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

1232 posts in 1992 days


#6 posted 12-13-2016 08:24 PM

The Stanley 750s are way better than the Baileys. That 4 piece set is nice for the price. I would go that way.

As others have suggested, you may not need every size, or 6 sizes, or even 4 sizes. So I’d go with a smaller set of higher quality over a lower quality set with a larger variety. I currently have an Aldi 4 piece set, and two LN chisels. I got the two LN first, a half and a quarter, and they are my work horses. I only really use the widest chisel from the Aldi pack, unless I am really going to beat on something and don’t want to risk the LN.

The only thing I really need is a 1/8” chisel. That, the quarter, the half and a 1” would be all I use regularly, plus a quarter inch mortise chisel.

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

15351 posts in 2616 days


#7 posted 12-13-2016 08:25 PM

+1 on a set of Stanley SW re-issues. Love mine. Edge retention excellent, feels good in the hand, socket design is classic.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View eflanders's profile

eflanders

299 posts in 1848 days


#8 posted 12-14-2016 01:22 AM

Surprisingly, there are some halfway decent chisels sold by a grocery store chain called Aldi. For under $20 for the set, they do really well. Be prepared to spend a lot of time flattening and sharpening them though. However, most new chisels need this work except the really high-end stuff.

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

5491 posts in 2263 days


#9 posted 12-14-2016 01:41 AM

I spoke with a wood carver in Germany this past spring. He told me the best steel on the market today is from a company called Stubai in Austria. We spoke at length about tools and wood working. He told me, buy a cheap toll and you buy it many times, buy the best tool and it lasts you for a lifetime. I find great commonsense in that attitude.

View ColonelTravis's profile

ColonelTravis

1769 posts in 1891 days


#10 posted 12-14-2016 02:22 AM

Harbor Freight sells a chisel set that, from what I can tell, seems to be the same as the Aldi ones. They sell for $10 right now! I’ve got both sets, they are an incredible values. Yeah, yeah, Harbor Freight. Seriously. If you are just getting into chisels I’d buy a set from one of those places and see which sizes you use the most, then upgrade those sizes vs. dropping big money on a nice set. I’ve also got several vintage T.H. Witherby chisels, very nice to use. I wouldn’t get the Stanley Bailey set (not talking about the 750s, but the cheaper ones) based on JayT's review and I trust that guy.

There are so many nice hand tool makers out there, but the really good stuff is $$$. I think the investment in a nice collection of chisels is a good thing, but my advice is that before you do, figure out what you’re gonna use them for. I use 3 sizes 90% of the time.

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

321 posts in 617 days


#11 posted 12-14-2016 02:25 PM

I have an older set of Marples that served me well for many years. I added a full set of Narex when Lee Valley had them on sale. 1/4 through 1 1/2”. One of my best new tool buys. They hold an edge well and having the full range of sizes makes it easy to get just the right cut. I’ve been using them for a couple years now and couldn’t be happier. One caution, like mentioned by another poster, the bevels are so sharp you can cut yourself with the side of the chisel.

After an unfortunate incident with these chisels that resulted in 9 sutures to my thumb and a lot of harassment from my wife, ,I’ve taken to wearing cut resistant gloves when I’m doing a lot of chisel work or working on small pieces.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Marn64's profile

Marn64

295 posts in 783 days


#12 posted 12-14-2016 02:32 PM

Aldi chisels are nice, they do dull quicker than others, but they’re incredibly good for their price. They are made in China by a German company and I have heard from a few sources that they adhere to German manufacturing standards.

-- Benjamin, Milwaukee

View Marn64's profile

Marn64

295 posts in 783 days


#13 posted 12-14-2016 02:35 PM



I spoke with a wood carver in Germany this past spring. He told me the best steel on the market today is from a company called Stubai in Austria. We spoke at length about tools and wood working. He told me, buy a cheap toll and you buy it many times, buy the best tool and it lasts you for a lifetime. I find great commonsense in that attitude.

- BurlyBob


If you are willing to put some money into a bench chisel set I would second Stubai, both new and antique Stubai’s are great chisels.

-- Benjamin, Milwaukee

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2605 posts in 645 days


#14 posted 12-14-2016 02:55 PM

Jonathon, I may get shot for this, but given your budget … why not pick up the 6 pc set of Windsor Design wood chisels from Harbor Freight for $9.99 and then buy yourself $40-$90 worth of lumber! I have these chisels and think they are great! Once flattened and honed they seem to hold an edge quite well. No chisel will hold an edge if used improperly, and a $10 set of chisels will draw blood as well as a $200 set. I’ve compared these to the Aldi chisels and the few Narex I have … can’t say I see/feel/tell a difference, except in price. It’s your shop!

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

View KelleyCrafts's profile

KelleyCrafts

2828 posts in 736 days


#15 posted 12-14-2016 03:41 PM

Don’t forget to budget for a sharpening method!!! Get any chisel you want and they all suck if they can’t be sharpened.

.02

-- Dave - http://kelleycrafts.com/ - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View JayT's profile

JayT

5627 posts in 2208 days


#16 posted 12-14-2016 04:25 PM

ColT already pointed it out, but I was not happy with the Stanley Bailey set. I think you can do better for the price.

Here’s my advice on chisels. It’s been posted often and probably ignored more often than not, but comes from experience. Do not buy a prepackaged set of chisels. Instead, spend the money on two or three good quality individual chisels in the sizes you will use.

Every set comes with the same sizes (usually 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 & 1in) and you’ll find out that you never use at least one of them. When I look at what chisels get the most use, a 3/8 is by far the most used in my shop. It’s just the right size for so many tasks. Try to find a “starter set” that has a 3/8, not gonna happen. After that, the 1/2 & 1/4 get about equal use and one wider chisel. Most sets include both a 3/4 and 1in and I’ve yet to talk to someone that needed both.

What sizes would you really use? Don’t limit yourself to the sizes the manufacturers want you to think you need. While I have a complete run of chisels from 1/8 up to 2in wide, I could very easily do the same work with just five (1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 and one wider in the 3/4 to 1in range) and not feel limited, but would never be able to find a set that includes those sizes.

In the long run, you’ll save money and frustration by buying one or two really good quality chisels in the sizes you will use and will serve you well, versus spending the same amount on a set of lesser quality tools and not using half of it. Then, as you find a need for a different size, you can buy that size by itself to add to your set of users.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View eflanders's profile

eflanders

299 posts in 1848 days


#17 posted 12-14-2016 04:31 PM

I’ve got some very expensive chisels and some cheapo ones. BUT the ones I use for my rough carpentry work are the cheapo ones from Aldi. Once sharp and flat, they cut as good as any and feel good too. If I lose one or damage it on a job, it is an easy to handle cost replacement. I might reaffirm that spending good money on sharpening stuff, learning from this and then get the chisels of your dreams.

View Jonathon Carrell's profile

Jonathon Carrell

13 posts in 533 days


#18 posted 12-14-2016 07:36 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys.

I’m going to give Narex with oval Beach handles a shot.

-- Jonathon Carrell, Alabama

View Marn64's profile

Marn64

295 posts in 783 days


#19 posted 12-14-2016 07:40 PM



Thanks for the feedback guys.

I m going to give Narex with oval Beach handles a shot.

- Jonathon Carrell


Good choice, I don’t own a Narex set but I have borrowed them before and they are nice! One of the things I do with all of my chisels is refinish them, I find that refinishing provides a better grip and looks more attractive. Put on a VERY light coat of linseed oil, wipe off immediately, let that dry for 12-24 hours, then I put 5 or so layers of dewaxed blonde shellac.

-- Benjamin, Milwaukee

View hotbyte's profile

hotbyte

991 posts in 2973 days


#20 posted 12-14-2016 07:42 PM

I bought set of the Narex after only having a few Buck Brothers from HD and Ace Hardware chisels. I really like them but don’t have a big comparison group. I did have the narrowest roll off bench. It landed pointy end down on a 4” flex DC hose :( I guess that is better than my foot! I saw where someone flattened the handles slightly to prevent the problem and might try that.

View Jonathon Carrell's profile

Jonathon Carrell

13 posts in 533 days


#21 posted 12-14-2016 08:50 PM



Don t forget to budget for a sharpening method!!! Get any chisel you want and they all suck if they can t be sharpened.

.02

- ki7hy

Thanks, I have a couple of wet blocks on hand.

-- Jonathon Carrell, Alabama

View BenjaminNY's profile

BenjaminNY

130 posts in 1400 days


#22 posted 12-14-2016 08:51 PM

If you are on a real budget, the buck brothers made in USA chisels are dirt cheap and sharpen up fine. If you have a medium budget go Narex or Stanley SweetHeart. If you are feeling flush go Lee Valley Pm V11.

I have a mix of all of them and any will work if you sharpen them

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

524 posts in 746 days


#23 posted 12-15-2016 02:56 AM

I’m with JayT. The OP probably doesn’t need a full ‘starter set’ of chisels. I’ve got some LN socket chisels, some Pfiel, and a couple of Lee Valley PM-V11 chisels (and some Marples and Craftsman). Based on using the good ones, the PM-V11’s are really special, and behind them would be the Pfiel and the LN chisels. As for good value for price, I’d suggest that the OP buy a few Pfiel chisels. Probably a 3/4 and a 1/4 would do. Or step up and get two of the Lee Valley PM-V11’s and use them forever. Those things hold an edge wonderfully and sharpen easily.

View BrettLuna's profile

BrettLuna

47 posts in 560 days


#24 posted 12-15-2016 08:58 PM

Late to the party but I’m also satisfied with my SW 750s. I bought the full set because I got a good price but the advice to start with select sizes is fair. While I’ve used every single one of mine, there are definitely work horses in the lot.

-- Brett — Peters Creek, Alaska

View Lemwise's profile

Lemwise

74 posts in 614 days


#25 posted 12-18-2016 04:53 PM

Another vote for the Stanley Sweetheart 750 chisels. The steel is great, it sharpens easily and holds an edge very well. The blades are nice and thin which makes them light weight and the shape is very ergonomic.

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