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Narex Classic Bevel-Edge Chisels

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Review by Roswell posted 03-01-2013 07:22 PM 9137 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Narex Classic Bevel-Edge Chisels No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

First off, let me qualify everything I say by mentioning that this is the only proper set of chisels I’ve owned, and I’m a newbie, sorta.

I picked the Narex brand because FWW liked ‘em for the price. So did Wood Magazine, and a few blogs. I like them too, with a few noted shortfalls:

-The metal is definitely NOT hardened to Rc59 in mine. Moderate prying when chopping (chip removal) will bend the tip out of plane with the back on the standard 25 degree bevel. Using a 30 degree micro-bevel seems to have helped. Despite this, I chopped the mouth for a transitional plane body out of Bubinga with mine, and they held up pretty darn well. I’m actually fortunate they’re soft: My 4yo snuck out into the shop while dad was out of town and several of them got dropped/smacked on the floor. I’m glad they didn’t break!

-The backs take some serious work to flatten. It took me an average of 20 minutes per chisel on a 300 grit diamond whetstone to get them reasonably flat. That means I still may have a dime-size low spot at least an inch away from the tip.

Overall, I’d buy the set again. For a guy whose trying to find the 80% solution with a 1% budget, they’re worth the price and the work to flatten them. I can get them sharp enough to shave with pretty quick, and now that I’ve built a little bit of skill with them, I find myself reaching for them to clean up slop/mistakes I’ve made with other tools quite often. With them and a $30 Crown Gents saw, I was finally, FINALLY able to cut a good dovetail. For $70, it’s hard to go wrong with this set.

-- _Never argue with an idiot. They'll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience_




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Roswell

70 posts in 1288 days



16 comments so far

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1256 days


#1 posted 03-01-2013 09:30 PM

Fair and accurate review, in my opinion. Mine also required the same amount of effort to flatten, but you only need to do that once. I noticed some edge deterioration when chopping out dovetails in white oak, and like you I increased the angle via a micro bevel which helped a lot. For heavy chopping, like big mortises I use their mortise chisels which I like even more than their bench chisels. These tools are definitely a good value for the money.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Roswell's profile

Roswell

70 posts in 1288 days


#2 posted 03-01-2013 10:36 PM

Hmm, I’ve seen several good things about the mortise chisels now. Perhaps I can put that dusty Amazon gift card to use…

-- _Never argue with an idiot. They'll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience_

View Arminius's profile

Arminius

304 posts in 2773 days


#3 posted 03-03-2013 08:58 PM

I own both sets, and I agree with your review. The mortise chisels are also superb value, and mine at least came with cleaner backs that the bench chisels did.

View jmos's profile

jmos

682 posts in 1339 days


#4 posted 03-28-2013 10:26 PM

Good review. I bought a set of larger sizes, 1” through 2” and they took a lot to flatten. Work pretty well now, hold an edge pretty well, I’m happy with them.

-- John

View cagenuts's profile

cagenuts

36 posts in 1190 days


#5 posted 04-27-2013 07:36 AM

Hate to break this to you guys but the backs are deliberately concave from the start.

-- Weekend Wood Wrecker

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1256 days


#6 posted 04-28-2013 11:42 PM

Hate to break this to you guys but the backs are deliberately concave from the start.

Why would you think this?

-- John, BC, Canada

View crank49's profile

crank49

3825 posts in 1941 days


#7 posted 04-29-2013 01:50 AM

The backs of all Japanese chisels are concave also.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1256 days


#8 posted 04-29-2013 03:05 AM

Yeah, but the Narex chisels aren’t Japanese.

Japanese chisels are very obviously concave on their backs, as opposed to the Narex which appear to be designed like most other western style bench chisels—i.e. with backs that are (supposed to be) flat.

-- John, BC, Canada

View cagenuts's profile

cagenuts

36 posts in 1190 days


#9 posted 04-29-2013 10:52 AM

According to a seller in the UK, they are not completely flat so that you don’t have to spend an eternity polishing the back. It’s only the front cutting edge that does all the work anyway.

-- Weekend Wood Wrecker

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

18072 posts in 1836 days


#10 posted 04-29-2013 12:56 PM

Narex chisels did very well in a Fine Woodworking performance test of about a dozen or so different brands of various chisels.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Roswell's profile

Roswell

70 posts in 1288 days


#11 posted 04-29-2013 01:49 PM

Ever get the feeling that there are people out there that get change back every time they put their two cents in?

-- _Never argue with an idiot. They'll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience_

View hammer6048's profile

hammer6048

10 posts in 787 days


#12 posted 03-26-2015 02:14 AM

Would like some feedback, received a set as a Christmas gift from my son’s and was chopping mortices in some Southern Yellow Pine, the edges don’t hold at all. A real disappointment. Hope Lee Valley will give me a credit against something better, or is it buyer beware?

View cagenuts's profile

cagenuts

36 posts in 1190 days


#13 posted 03-26-2015 04:09 AM


Hope Lee Valley will give me a credit against something better, or is it buyer beware?
- hammer6048

Neither actually. Most non-mortise chisels will chip out on the first 1/32nd or 1/16th. Just grind the edge back a bit and you won’t be disappointed. Even their V11 chisels throw up this characteristic.

Keep at it, you’ve bought a good set there.

-- Weekend Wood Wrecker

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

969 posts in 1608 days


#14 posted 03-26-2015 07:04 PM

I have the mortise set – haven’t used it alot, but have no problems with it. My mortising skills are not good enough for me to worry about the backs being exactly flat.

This is the first negative thing I’ve heard about Narex.

-Paul

View xjsv12's profile

xjsv12

1 post in 110 days


#15 posted 04-13-2015 06:27 AM

“In order to learn one must do”
I encourage everyone of you to watch Paul Sellers, Steve Hay, Frank Klausz,…. just to name a few. They all can do more with a cheap chisel (Irvin, in case of Frank Klausz) then you and I. Which tells me, its rather insignificant what chisels I own. Btw, as a trained Tool and Die Maker, nobody can detect without laboratory equipment if the Rc (Rockwell scale) is higher or lower. On the assumption it’s a bit lower and therefore frequent sharpening is required, guess what, you’ll become good at it and free hand I hope…..“In order to learn one must do”. And lets not forget what previous craftsmen where able to do with far less quality chisels or sharpening equipment. Yes, I own Narex chisels and enjoy the furniture I can make without buying the Ferrari. Honestly, the Ferrari wouldn’t make me a better driver anyway. I’d go as far as buying Ashley Iles chisels, knowing in advance that if something didn’t turn out perfect, the problem is found attached to the hand not what’s in the hand.
Final note: The spark test for Rc on a grinder is a wild guess at best and therefore useless. Secondly, more damage is done to a chisels Rc by using too fine of a wheel on an electric grinder, therefore creating too much heat, then actually using it and striking it like you mean it.

Punny or not: Just chisel away on your skill, with properly sharpened tools….in order to learn one must do.

Enjoy the process!!!

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