Looking for some opinions on chisels

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by cdaulton posted 04-13-2016 05:43 AM 968 views 2 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View cdaulton's profile


25 posts in 1889 days

04-13-2016 05:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: chisel hand tools advice opinion

I am in the market for some new bench chisels. I am currently using some Footprint chisels that I got a couple of years ago on clearance at a Sears tool store but it is not a complete set (missing 5/8” and 3/4”) and they really don’t hold an edge very well. I have narrowed it down to two choices, this set of Narex bevel edge from Lee Valley,41504 and this set of Two Cherries from Amazon I was wondering if any one had any experience with these specific chisels, especially the Narex. They are about a hundred dollars cheaper than the Two Cherries and if they will hold an edge then I am inclined to go that way. So, any opinions?

19 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile


2116 posts in 901 days

#1 posted 04-13-2016 11:27 AM

I have a set of Narex and like them well enough. Be prepared for a good session flattening the backs, though. I think I had a couple hours invested for the set of 6. But once commissioned, they have been good performers for me. I only use them for joinery and have a set of Irwin Marples for “rough” work, although, I have to say the Irwins are not horrible chisels! I have one Stanley 750 and I have to say the Narex is a better chisel IMO (holds and edge better and the handle fits my meat hook hands better).

I would definitely check which kind of Narex before you buy. They make line they call “premium” and it definitely is different than whey you are looking at with LV. It has different handles and most importantly, a lower side bevel height (probably the second most important feature of a chisel besides the steel IMHO). See the difference here.

I don’t think you can go too wrong with the Narex for the money. FWW did a very good review a while back this is what I based my decision on. I believe it is available for download in a nice PDF chart that compares all the most important features.

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

View ScottStewart's profile


119 posts in 1553 days

#2 posted 04-13-2016 12:22 PM

I’ve got the Narex, and my experience was the same as you will find in other spots. It took quite a while to get the backs flat, but once I did the chisels have performed very well. SMC i think has multiple threads discussing the Narexes as well. The advantage to getting them from LV is that they are true imperial sizes, if you get them elsewhere, they will be metric approximations.

View knotscott's profile


7146 posts in 2796 days

#3 posted 04-13-2016 01:25 PM

My Narex chisels hold an edge pretty well, but I don’t find that handles to be as comfortable as my Irwin Marples handles….but it’s subjective.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2998 days

#4 posted 04-13-2016 02:07 PM

I’ve had good service from my Marples chisels,I don’t see any reason to spend huge amounts on chisels when reasonably priced chisels like Marples give you.

-- Custom furniture

View JayT's profile


4680 posts in 1632 days

#5 posted 04-13-2016 02:30 PM

I have some of the Two Cherries and absolutely love them.

My review of them is here Make sure to read the others’ comments and you will see I’m not alone in those feelings. In fairness, I haven’t used the Narex to make a comparison.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View jmartel's profile


6467 posts in 1571 days

#6 posted 04-13-2016 03:08 PM

I’d get 3-4 chisels that were the best you can afford. The Narex are good starter chisels, but the steel is much better on nicer chisels.

The Stanley 750s are a good moderate priced chisel. A 4 piece set is $90.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5955 posts in 1749 days

#7 posted 04-13-2016 03:55 PM

There are a couple different flavors to the Marples chisels Jim refers to. Most common are the Blue Chips with the blue poly handles. There’s also the Split Proof line with the yellow and magenta poly handles, and now there’s a line with blue poly handles with a rubber overlay and a steel cap.

BUT…. what’s on the market today is NOT the same as 15 years ago when I bought mine. They are now “assembled” in the UK from “global” parts. That means the steel blade comes from China.

I REALLY like the Marples Split proof chisels set I bought 20+ years ago. But 2 years ago I ordered a couple individual chisels to fill in some sizes I didn’t have and to replace a lost chisel, and what I received, when compared side by side with my older ones, was not at all as good. The steel doesn’t hold an edge as well and the machining was quite a bit more course.


If I was starting today, I’d get a set of Sorby Registered and consider it a once in a lifetime purchase.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View HokieKen's profile


1523 posts in 559 days

#8 posted 04-13-2016 07:37 PM

I don’t have either but have been considering the Narex as well. Check out Taylor Tool Works ebay store. They have the premiums that RWE was talking about and have several different sets in true imperial and metric sizes.

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

View CharlesNeil's profile


1602 posts in 3291 days

#9 posted 04-13-2016 07:50 PM

Im with Jim on this one for the $, Marples are hard to beat, I have the fancy ones, but they dont beat the Marples.

My other favorite because they are so nice and thin, are Ashley Isles.. not cheap but really sweet

View Mosquito's profile


7925 posts in 1713 days

#10 posted 04-13-2016 08:21 PM

I quite like my Ashley Iles chisels as well but like Charles said, they’re not anywhere near as cheap as Narex or Marples.

I’m going to preface this by saying “I don’t have any scientific research behind it”. To the best that most of us will likely be able to tell, I think the biggest difference between cheap and “premium” chisels will be a combination of two things. 1.) How ‘work ready’ they are out of the box. How much flattening and sharpening they need. 2.) Frequency of sharpening. That is to say the different tool steels need resharpening at different rates given similar use.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Ocelot's profile


1459 posts in 2059 days

#11 posted 04-13-2016 09:04 PM

I just yesterday or so ordered the odd 1/8ths Narex “premium” set from Taylor toolworks on ebay. I have a 1980’s Stanley set (possibly even bought at Walmart) on the quarters (1/2, 3/4, 1”) and just for no good reason wanted to fill in with the 1/8, 3/8, 5/8 and 7/8.

I have a set of Narex mortising chisels and like them alot.

Maybe I’ll write a review if I ever get any shop time to use them.


View Tim's profile


3031 posts in 1382 days

#12 posted 04-14-2016 11:04 PM

I had the Narex premium set and they were fine, but didn’t hold an edge nearly as well as the vintage chisels I’ve assembled so I sold them. My Narex set actually took very little time to flatten the backs, that’s either because they where the premium ones from Highland or I just got lucky. The Narex are a good value, but you can do better, especially by buying a higher quality chisel and just buy one at a time as you need them. A few LJ’s have mentioned they had no idea how good chisels could be until they bought the Lie Nielsens. Pricey, but if you buy one as you need it, it’s manageable.

View eflanders's profile


84 posts in 1271 days

#13 posted 04-15-2016 02:41 AM

I’ve got the 2 cherries set. They needed flattening upon reciept but I think it only took an hour for the whole set. I also have some vintage Stanley sweetheart and Buck brothers chisels. The 2 cherries hold their edge better than those old ones do. The Narex set is decent but not in the same class as the 2 cherries are for function, hand fit or edge hold. But there others that are even better and a lot more expensive. If you will be using your chisels often, consider the 2 cherries over the Narex.

View Lumberpunk's profile


323 posts in 1758 days

#14 posted 04-15-2016 02:38 PM

I like my Narex… not much to compare to… they were awful to flatten until I got my DMT diamond plates.

Having worked with PMV-111 now with my Lee Valley planes I would consider slowly collecting their bench chisels as well. Really fast sharpening and great edge retention.

-- If someone tells you you have enough tools and don't need any more, stop talking to them, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

View cdaulton's profile


25 posts in 1889 days

#15 posted 04-15-2016 05:59 PM

First off, let me say thank you for all the replies. At this point I think I am leaning towards the Two Cherries. I am really looking for a set of chisels that have excellent edge holding ability while at the same time not breaking the bank. As much as I would like to have a set of the Lee Valley PM-V11 chisels, $529 is just more than I can afford to spend on chisels right now.

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics