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Forum topic by MidasKnight posted 06-22-2015 09:16 AM 986 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1307 days

06-22-2015 09:16 AM

Topic tags/keywords: chisel

Hi, everyone. I’m new here and looking forward to learning about using tools that are me-powered as opposed to being tethered to electricity. Especially since most of my power tools, most notably my table saw, are living with my mom in Ohio for some time to come.

So, my first question is about buying a chisel. I don’t own any. I need to know what the lowest priced chisel of acceptable (beginner acceptable, not expert-acceptable) quality, i.e. it holds it’s edge, is. I know I’m not going to get high-end quality at a low price. I need to find the balance. Are the regular Stanley chisels at Lowe’s or Home Depot decent? How about their house brands?

I’m a college student, and am dependent on my financial aid (had to change the direction of my life in my mid 30s, and my wife left me last year triggering a near total reboot of my life), so budget is super tight: I have no more than $50 budget, and that’s pushing my budget hard. The budget won’t be able to increase for quite a few months. I need, essentially the most bang for my buck. Or the least buck for the bang might be more accurate.

Like I said, I know I’m not going to get a super-awesome chisel for cheap. I just need an adequate chisel for as low as it can be had.


10 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15800 posts in 2854 days

#1 posted 06-22-2015 10:31 AM

LJ Bandit picked a chisel set (4) at Aldi supermaket for $7 that was recommended by Paul Sellers. Bandit’s first impressions were positive. Hope that’s a possibility for you.

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

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2311 days

#2 posted 06-22-2015 10:41 AM

Good morning and welcome. Smitty is giving you good advice. There are many on this site who do amazing work with refurbished tools or tools that some would scoff at. If you’re new to hand tools, then much of the advice you’ll get will likely boil down to
-learn how to sharpen
-buy the best you can within your budget.

Bandit is one of my buddies. If you check him out, you’ll see what he does with chisels etc that he picks up at garage sales and refurbishes.

The first hand plane I bought was from another LJ (Lumberjock) buddy Don W. and it’s still my favourite. It arrived sharp, and then I was able to gauge my sharpening from that.

Good luck and ask away.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2311 days

#3 posted 06-22-2015 10:55 AM

Because I’m procrastinating over my coffee, I found these on Amazon – might be worth checking out
I can’t comment on them personally. I have a set of Stanley Sweetheart chisels but I’ve heard good things about Narex.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View rwe2156's profile


3230 posts in 1716 days

#4 posted 06-22-2015 11:54 AM


You can actually make any chisel into a decent worker it just takes time to get them flattened and sharp.
The problem is the side bevels are so high they are not that great for fine joinery like dovetails.
But you can get by with them. I started out with a cheap set of Irwin Marples and successfully did DT’s with them.

Start out with the best you can afford. One way to do that is get only a couple chisels like a 1/4 and 1/2” instead of a set. Yes, you may spend just as much or more.

I have a set of Narex premiums and they are quite decent chisels.
I definitely recommend the Narex “premium” as they have a lower side bevel.
Last time I checked a set of 4 was around $50.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 1450 days

#5 posted 06-22-2015 04:10 PM

I own a set of the Narex chisels as well. The one in the lilnk above is not the same as I have, but they look to be of a good quality. If you are going to get into handtools you need to sharpen as well. A set of wetstones would push you over budget 6 times over, at least, so you may want to consider an altrnative until your budget changes. One way to sharpen on a budget is to get a piece of granite or glass, both are reliably flat and can be obtained often for free if you are resourceful. Use self adhesive sandpaper of various grits (maybe 220, 400, 1000, 5000) and get a strop to debur the blade. With a setup like this you can quickly take those Narex to a very fine edge and get to work. The sandpaper will wear out pretty quickly and can be a bit of a hassle, but overall it’s a budget friendly option. As a bonus, the hand sharpening you do this way translates very easily to other forms of hand sharpening as well. Get your gear and get going!

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View WillliamMSP's profile


1084 posts in 1840 days

#6 posted 06-22-2015 04:18 PM

The Narex chisels at Lee Valley go for $10+ each and they have sets available. Buying a set does cost less than buying individually, but there’s also the possibility that you’re not going to need each of the sizes in the set. You might want to take a little time to think about the type of work you envision yourself doing and buying only two or three based upon that – or, the even more patient route – don’t buy until you have a specific need.

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

View PatrickH's profile


51 posts in 2123 days

#7 posted 06-24-2015 11:44 AM

Has Narex improved their QC? I bought a set a while back and was very unhappy with the backs…very out-of-flat. I didn’t expect them to be perfect, but took me over an hour per chisel to get respectable flatness.


View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 2171 days

#8 posted 06-24-2015 12:14 PM

This will sound bizarre, but I have really like the buck brothers chisels I have gotten from Home Depot. They’re ugly as sin and unbalanced, but they sharpen up nicely and hold a pretty good edge. Easily accessible too.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2605 days

#9 posted 06-24-2015 12:40 PM

I have a set of the Irwin Marples chisels, and have been very pleased with them for around 4 years. They go for 6-10 bucks apiece on Amazon, and they seem to hold an edge well. I also have a handful of really old buck brothers chisels and gouges (not the HD kind), and they’re great, but harder to come across. I found mine at a yard sale for under 10 bucks. Check craigslist around your area.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View bandit571's profile


21983 posts in 2919 days

#10 posted 06-24-2015 12:46 PM

If you missed out on Aldis chisel set…Stanley sells a Bailey 5 pc. set of chisels with a leather roll. Under $70 for the set.

While a new in the box set of chisels might be ok…you still have to flatten and hone them anyway…..keep an eye out for chisels at yard sales, auctions ( and auction sites) and a few Home Improvement centers.

Usually, the sizes I use the most ( for what I make) are the 1/4”, a 3/4” and a wider chisel. The 1/4” for doing a mortise, and the wider ones for squaring the sides of the mortise. The 3/4” and wider also work to both make a tenon, and to shape and fit a tenon.

Even a “junky” set like these…

Can be flattened and honed and made to do a fairly decent job.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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