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Irwin Chisels - Upgrade

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Forum topic by Tricorn posted 02-01-2016 01:52 PM 773 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tricorn

14 posts in 311 days


02-01-2016 01:52 PM

Approximately 10 years ago, I purchased a set of Irwin chisels. I understand that current Irwin chisels are made in China and that they are regarded as a starter chisels. However, my chisels all state “made in Sheffield England” on the blade. The handles, however, are blue plastic and have seams running down the sides.

What is the quality of these chisels? Do I have anything to gain by upgrading to Stanley Sweethearts, Pfeil, or another brand? If you owned these chisels, what would you do? Upgrade? New handles? Spend the money on something else?


17 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13720 posts in 2081 days


#1 posted 02-01-2016 02:06 PM

Pictures of your chisels would be helpful. Sounds like you have good hardware, so some of the question goes back to you: are you happy with them? Chisels are fairly simple tools, so as long long as they hold a decent edge, it’s good right?

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

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 640 days


#2 posted 02-01-2016 02:26 PM

Smitty it the main question. How does your chisels sharpness and how long they remain sharp compare to others. There are scientific and engineering methods to measure sharpness but I doubt they really apply to practical woodworking. Also how do you measure how long they remain sharp? It would depend on the wood being worked and the woodworker’s style.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

1752 posts in 602 days


#3 posted 02-01-2016 03:11 PM

The Irwin/Marples chisels made in England are all regarded as being pretty good tools. Like Smitty said, are you happy with them? Why “upgrade” if you like what you have and they do the job?

Personally, I don’t mind plastic handles on chisels. Wood handles look nice and have a good feel but also have to be replaced periodically. Ultimately, my philosophy is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. On the other hand, if it is broke, you can fix it, or you can trash it and get a new one. So first, figure out if your chisels are broke. Then if they are, will new handles “fix” them or is it just time to replace them?

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

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Rick M

7913 posts in 1843 days


#4 posted 02-01-2016 04:38 PM

Starter anything is marketing speak for cheap. The Irwins were well regarded back then and last I checked, sell for more used than when they were new.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Tricorn's profile

Tricorn

14 posts in 311 days


#5 posted 02-02-2016 02:58 AM

This is my first set, so I have no real frame of reference. My complaints are (1) they are difficult to sharpen – even with an 8000 grit water stone, I feel that I am not able to get a keen edge; (2) the edges of the blades are thick; and (3) they’re heavy, almost clunky. It sounds like I answered my own question; however, this being my first set, I wanted to get some feedback.

We’re I to upgrade, what would be your recommendation? Pfeil? Sweetheart? Two cherries? LN?

Unless you feel otherwise, I want to buy high end chisels as I need them, starting with 2 or 3.

Thanks

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2193 posts in 944 days


#6 posted 02-02-2016 01:20 PM

I have a set of the blue handled Irwin Marples think I paid about $50.
They are not great for DT’s due to the high side bevel height as you noted.
I use them for cleaning up mortises, rebates, etc.
I have no trouble sharpening them so can’t help you there. Steel may be different than yours.

My other set is Narex I like them pretty well for DT’s.
If you get them, make sure you get the “premium” Narex they have a lower side bevel height.

I have one Stanely 750 socket chisel I think the Narex are better.

All said and done, if I had to do over, I wish I would have sprung for LN (when you could buy a set) instead of the Narex.

Good idea on starting with a few. A 1/4, 1/2 and 1” will get most work.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3938 posts in 1956 days


#7 posted 02-02-2016 01:47 PM

After Irwin bought the Marples brand, it took them a little while to cheapen them up and ruin a good quality chisel. The Sheffield Irwins are not the best, but they are very servicable. I wouldn’t do anything if they meet your needs.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View hotbyte's profile

hotbyte

842 posts in 2439 days


#8 posted 02-02-2016 02:41 PM

Are you only using an 8000 grit or working your way up through grits to 8000?


This is my first set, so I have no real frame of reference. My complaints are (1) they are difficult to sharpen – even with an 8000 grit water stone, I feel that I am not able to get a keen edge; (2) the edges of the blades are thick; and (3) they re heavy, almost clunky. It sounds like I answered my own question; however, this being my first set, I wanted to get some feedback.

We re I to upgrade, what would be your recommendation? Pfeil? Sweetheart? Two cherries? LN?

Unless you feel otherwise, I want to buy high end chisels as I need them, starting with 2 or 3.

Thanks

- Tricorn


View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 640 days


#9 posted 02-02-2016 03:13 PM

I have a set of Craftsman, several odds and end ones I picked up cheep, and now I am buying Lee Valley Narlex chisels. All have performed well. Of course I don’t have any of those $300 per chisel to compare against.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3938 posts in 1956 days


#10 posted 02-02-2016 05:33 PM

If you insist on buying a set of the better chisels, be sure to include the Veritas PM V11 with the others, they are very nice chisels.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 949 days


#11 posted 02-02-2016 05:50 PM

Huge fan of the LN here. Had only their 1/2” chisel for about half a year before I could afford to finish the set.

Worth every penny I tell you.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#12 posted 02-02-2016 05:51 PM

I’ve been looking at chisels as well. Have a 4 set of new Stanley Sweethearts. They’re ok but Comparing one to the next, it’s easy to see they’re not very consistent in their fabrication. Rough side edges on some, almost like a coined edge and the thickness of the edge is not very consistent. They’re serviceable, but eventually would like a finer set.

I’ve been looking at Blue Spruce and Ashley Iles Mk2 for bench chisels and Sorby for paring chisels. Any feedback on these?

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View bridgerberdel's profile

bridgerberdel

26 posts in 705 days


#13 posted 02-04-2016 02:11 AM

I really like old crucible steel socket chisels.

-- occasional musings on my blog: www.bridgerberdel.wordpress.com

View Tricorn's profile

Tricorn

14 posts in 311 days


#14 posted 02-04-2016 02:31 AM

Thanks for the advice. I think I’m going to trade up. I’ll likely go with the sweethearts; they’ve gotten good reviews, and at my current ability level, I can’t justify LN chisels.

How do people compare two cherries with sweethearts?

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

3675 posts in 1729 days


#15 posted 02-04-2016 02:33 AM

I bought a set of those Irwin -Sheffield chisel thinking they would be really good. After a few years I felt I needed to upgrade. I did my research and bought a set of Two Cherry chisels. There is absolutely no comparison. The Irwin/Marples/Sheffield are my rough work chisels. The Two Cherry’s are my fine work chisels. There is no comparison between the two brands. The Two Cherry’s far exceed the Irwin/Marples.

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