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Respectable starter set

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Review by lysdexic posted 07-20-2011 04:27 AM 3546 views 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Respectable starter set No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Purchased this set about a year ago to get me started woodworking. The set is currently on clearance for $76 at Woodcraft. I realize that these are not a set of Lie Nielsens, Ashley Iles, or vintage 750’s. Therefore, my expectations were guarded. They lived up to my expectations but they certainly did NOT exceed them.

Now, I do not have any significant experience with any other chisels except a couple a Stanley’s that I got from Lowe’s in the distant past.

They come on a box that has a pretty cheesy glossy spray finish. The handles are nice enough. I can’t really speak to the balance or feel.

My biggest problem that have had is getting the back flat. Right out of the box I flattened the back on a reference piece of granite and sandpaper. I spent a long time doing this starting at 60 grit and working my way up. The problem lies in the fact that most of the backs are milled slightly concave like a Japanese chisel but the concavity extends all the way to the edge. Thus you can never achieve the theoretical 2 intersecting planes. I could remedy this with the ruler trick which will jeopardize the reference back surface. Secondly, I could continue to grind the surface but I have better ways to spend my time than rubbing inexpensive chisels on a rock. I’ve already spent several hours on the set already.

In the end I’d say that I got them pretty darn sharp. They have been performing the basic tasks that I ask of them. They don’t hold their edge as well as the generic Stanley’s that I have.

I don’t want to be too hard on these chisels. They have done exactly what I want from them—- to get me started.

The following pics are from my cell phone about a year ago. These are from the flattening process. I did hone them to 8000 grit but these pics show how I couldn’t get rid of the concavity at the edge. It is not present on all but some.

Here is a look at all them during the flattening process

These look OK because the scratch marks go all the way to the edge

I would have to remove alot of steel to get scratches all the way to the edge

Notice the difference between these two.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali




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lysdexic

4871 posts in 1289 days



15 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9947 posts in 1285 days


#1 posted 07-20-2011 04:33 AM

It appears that you could grind away about a 16th” from the tips and get to the flats. (don’t hit me for saying that, given the amount of time you’ve already invested…) :-)

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

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lysdexic

4871 posts in 1289 days


#2 posted 07-20-2011 04:36 AM

Not until I get a grinding wheel. I have had enough off grinding these on sand paper and a honing jig. Sounds like a good excuse to buy a tool.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1321 days


#3 posted 07-20-2011 04:38 AM

Let’s see a pic of the side of the chisel. I am curious about the lands.

One other question, is the steel blue on the tip in this pick or am I nuts? They may need better heat treatment (explaining the issue with edge retention)

Getting started is important I just wish good chisels were not so uncommon (modern toolmakers: shame on you…well most of you).

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

9947 posts in 1285 days


#4 posted 07-20-2011 05:17 AM

I’m going to sound like the one trick pony I am re: chisels, but Stanley is making some pretty respectable chisels these days in the form of the 750SW re-issues. Today’s company seems to be one that many love to hate though (present company excluded).

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

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12290 posts in 2764 days


#5 posted 07-20-2011 06:11 AM

Looks like they are working for what you do now. I’m currently using some blue marples. After buying some Ashley Iles carving chisels, I am going to save my nickels set of their bench chisels when I feel my skills have outgrown the marples.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

14978 posts in 1855 days


#6 posted 07-20-2011 10:01 AM

I have these and did not have the same problem on the back as your having. I don’t do alot of work with chesil’s, but once I sharpened them, they work great. The box is a pain though. Good deal and they work well but not Lie Nielsens like you mentoined.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1306 days


#7 posted 07-20-2011 10:22 AM

Nice review. Brutally honest. I would have to lose one start for the backs not flatter out of the box.

I believe I’d have to do whatever it took to get the edge concavity resolved. Its okay if there’s a depression even a little further back, but not on the edge (imho).

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View funchuck's profile

funchuck

119 posts in 1723 days


#8 posted 07-20-2011 03:02 PM

I have the previous generation of these chisels (they were called Pinnacle chisels). I had the exact same problem with the concavity all the way to the edge. I spent SO much time flattening the back. Something I figured out is, instead of holding the chisel with your fingers, use the palm of your hand and put your weight into it when flattening the back. That worked very well and I was able to get all 8 flat. Even the 2 incher was flattened.

One other problem with these chisels is that the cutting edge folds over very easily. After about 5 to 10 paring cuts on poplar end grain, the tip would be folded over. I am not exaggerating, it really only was 5 to 10 cuts. Do you have the same problem? I know some people said that new chisels might do this, but I have had these chisels for ~7 years.

-- Charles from California

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Tedstor

1369 posts in 1299 days


#9 posted 07-20-2011 08:20 PM

Forgive me if my interpretation is wrong, but my takeaway from your review is that these are crudely milled and have lacklaster edge retention. If so, you’re an easy grader :LOL:)

RG- Narex, Marples/Irwin, and even Craftsman offer chisel sets that many notable tool gurus will regard as “pretty good/not bad/great for the money”. So luckily, good tools for the beginner are available at realistic price points. But I do have to concede that there are plenty of sub-par tools floating around too.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3443 posts in 1637 days


#10 posted 07-20-2011 08:42 PM

I have that set as well. One had a very bad chip out of one of the edges when I first opened the box. Woodcraft just handed me a new set. As for flattening, that’s what belt sanders are made for. Two minutes, several dunks in a bucket of water and you’re done. Then go to the wet paper on glass or granite.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

2471 posts in 2408 days


#11 posted 07-20-2011 10:43 PM

Iam wondering for the 5 star rating it seems you had to do an awful lot of work. So what grade would/should the Lee Nielsons get being flat right out of the box but 3x the cost of these?

-- "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." Edison

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4871 posts in 1289 days


#12 posted 07-20-2011 11:36 PM

I apologize for the oversight. I thought that I had given these a 3 star rating. The rating has been changed to the appropriate and intended level.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1321 days


#13 posted 07-21-2011 04:44 AM

Tedstor. I use Irwins myself at the moment I am never impressed with their edge retention, but I do concede they are a good “starter”.

I would have preferred to spend the money on high ends in the first place and then never deal with the issue again.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View rance's profile

rance

4135 posts in 1827 days


#14 posted 07-21-2011 05:49 AM

I too have this set. I’ve not had the problems with curved backs either. Been satisfied with them so far after initial sharpening. I have to add though, that I primarilly use the 1/4” & 1/2” ones. I can’t see myself ever using the bigger ones. It is nice having them on hand if I ever need them though. Nice handles, cheesy box.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View DantheWoodworker's profile

DantheWoodworker

18 posts in 1186 days


#15 posted 07-23-2011 01:32 AM

I was lucky I got this set on sale at woodcraft for $45

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