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Best Brand of Wood Chisels?

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Forum topic by jasoncarpentry posted 05-26-2017 06:10 PM 1351 views 1 time favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jasoncarpentry

140 posts in 2493 days


05-26-2017 06:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood chisels

After 40+ years of woodworking, I’m down to three wood chisels: 2” and 3/4” (both Stanley) and a 1” Tru-test (whatever the heck that is). I wanted to buy Stanleys because I thought they were still made in the USA, but it turns out that they’re made in China like the rest of them. I’ve been pricing new chisels in my locally-owned hardware store and at Home Depot (we don’t have a Lowe’s), and here are the results:

Downtown Hardware: Limited selection of Stanleys (3/8”, 5/8”, and 1-1/4”) priced from $13-$14 each. Larger selection of Irwins (1/4”, 1/2”, 3/4”, 1”, 1-1/2, and 2”) priced from $14-$25 each. They can also order a set of Irwins (1/2”, 3/4”, and 1”) for $41.

Home Depot: To my surprise, my HD doesn’t carry either Stanleys or Irwins. The main brand they carry is Buck Bros., which I’ve never heard of before. But if price is any indication, they’re similar to both Stanley and Irwin. They have a set of Dewalts (1/4”, 1/2”, 3/4”, and 1”) for $29, which is surprisingly cheap. They also have a few sizes of Nicholsons (again, never heard of them); these are interesting because they have a rasp surface on the flat part of the blade.

Brands are tricky: I’m nuts about my Irwin one-handed clamps, and about Dewalt power tools in general, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into quality hand tools.

I want quality tools and am willing to pay for them, and I realize I can go really exotic and buy European chisels. But these might be super-expensive and not really worth the extra, given the limited usage I give them.

Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

-- Jim in Tennessee


29 replies so far

View Tim's profile

Tim

3683 posts in 1800 days


#1 posted 05-26-2017 06:21 PM

What is your budget? Because if you want best you can look at Blue Spruce, Lie-Nielsen, and The Veritas PM-V11 chisels. There are also even higher end chisels such as hand made.

For around the prices you mentioned I assume Narex chisels are higher quality for the money than big box stores, the Stanley Sweetheart reissues are a little more and similar quality and Two Cherries chisels come well recommended as a good quality for the money.

View gargey's profile

gargey

862 posts in 614 days


#2 posted 05-26-2017 06:22 PM

Chisels are like cars. Lots of different kinds at different price points. A lot is subjective, too. Edge retention vs ease of sharpening, feel in the hand, etc.

If you want USA made, Lie Nielsen (expensive) and Blue Spruce (very expensive) are available. They’ll probably last a lifetime, though.

Veritas PMV-11 look mighty nice, but made in Canada. I have Stanley Sweetheart chisels, and I’m planning on replacing them soon because they suck burnt asshole. Well, not quite, but I want a nicer set.

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gargey

862 posts in 614 days


#3 posted 05-26-2017 06:24 PM

Tim beat me to it, and named all the same ones, ha.

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bigblockyeti

4698 posts in 1559 days


#4 posted 05-26-2017 06:34 PM

How do you really feel about the Stanley sweethearts?

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JRsgarage

228 posts in 348 days


#5 posted 05-26-2017 06:41 PM

buck bros are actually pretty nice and made in the USA. i would buy individual units and see which feels right to you

-- Two is One, One is None

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Rich

1984 posts in 428 days


#6 posted 05-26-2017 06:46 PM

+1 on the Narex. I got the 8 piece imperial sized set and they were pretty decent out of the box and only required minimal flattening and, of course, sharpening. For $100, that’s about what I expect. They suit my needs.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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builtinbkyn

1924 posts in 779 days


#7 posted 05-26-2017 06:58 PM



Chisels are like cars. Lots of different kinds at different price points. A lot is subjective, too. Edge retention vs ease of sharpening, feel in the hand, etc.

If you want USA made, Lie Nielsen (expensive) and Blue Spruce (very expensive) are available. They ll probably last a lifetime, though.

Veritas PMV-11 look mighty nice, but made in Canada. I have Stanley Sweetheart chisels, and I m planning on replacing them soon because they suck burnt asshole. Well, not quite, but I want a nicer set.

- gargey


I have a few different sets of chisels – Sorbey made is Sheffield England, Ashley Iles made in England, Henry Taylor also made in Sheffield England – all of which I purchased from an estate sale at a very good price. They are all excellent chisels. I recently purchased a set of Japanese bench chisels from Gramercy Tools – have yet to use them. I also have a 4 piece set of the new Stanley Sweethearts. Out of the box, they were terrible in function and appearance. They took a lot of work to get them not only usable, but also looking pretty spiffy. I love them for certain work. They have shorter handles than the others and are nice to use when using hand power (palm of the hand) vs a mallet. But they work well with a mallet as well.

If you’re willing to put a little work into the Stanleys, then I can recommend them. They are like many WW tools and need tuning. If you want chisels that look and function really well out of the box (save some fine tuning) then go with another brand as mentioned above.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn & Steel City :)

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jonah

1471 posts in 3137 days


#8 posted 05-26-2017 07:18 PM

Narex chisels are made in the Czech Republic and are excellent. I wrote a review of mine here.

They’re relatively reasonably priced, too. Buck Bros, Irwin (now that they’re not made in England), and Stanley chisels are garbage.

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gargey

862 posts in 614 days


#9 posted 05-26-2017 07:19 PM

The most incredibly irritating thing about the Stanley Sweethearts is that they come with a coating of lacquer on them, all the way up and down the blade.

So I had to waste time and effort plunging them into acetone and scraping it off. What a pain in the ass.

And this, of course, is after I tried sharpening them on my waterstones and got the stupid lacquer gunk all over them. Makes them seem like un-serious tools. I suppose its so they can prolong shelf life with no rust.

View Loren's profile

Loren

9633 posts in 3486 days


#10 posted 05-26-2017 07:24 PM

Only some models of Buck Bros. chisels are
still USA made.

http://www.craftsmanstudio.com/Buck-Bros-Bench-Chisels-p/c007301-base.htm

I’ve found most chisels can take a fine edge
but only relatively pricey ones keep a fine
edge very long.

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

1924 posts in 779 days


#11 posted 05-26-2017 08:27 PM



The most incredibly irritating thing about the Stanley Sweethearts is that they come with a coating of lacquer on them, all the way up and down the blade.

So I had to waste time and effort plunging them into acetone and scraping it off. What a pain in the ass.

And this, of course, is after I tried sharpening them on my waterstones and got the stupid lacquer gunk all over them. Makes them seem like un-serious tools. I suppose its so they can prolong shelf life with no rust.

- gargey

Yeah the lacquer was a pita to remove. It took me an entire day to remove the lacquer, remove the coin edge (not sure why it was that way other than the manufacturing process), flatten the backs and sharpen them. That was just four chisels. I too was very disappointed and thought of just moving on from them. But after doing the work, I have to say, I really like them. I purchased other sets because of the limited sizes and well, we all love tools and I’m no exception LOL

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View brtech's profile

brtech

1006 posts in 2761 days


#12 posted 05-26-2017 09:22 PM

There’s always the Aldi set. Yep, THAT Aldi. They aren’t in stock all that often, but if you find them, they have to be one of the all time best bargains in hand tools. They aren’t Blue Spruce, but they are very serviceable. You will have to flatten the backs and sharpen them out of the bag (no box!). Google “Paul Sellers Aldi”

I splurged on a set of Ashley Iles this winter. MMMmmmm, very nice. Not all that expensive, seem to hold an edge a long time and are very comfortable in hand. Beautiful tools.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1856 posts in 2477 days


#13 posted 05-26-2017 09:43 PM

Aldi usually has them in June. $8 for a set of 4 is a great buy. It’s worth a try. I’ve got two sets. That british woodworking teacher promotes them as sensible chisels for everyday use.

I have several Narex – including the set of imperial mortise chisels and 3 pair of skew chisels, one 2” Irwin, an old 2” Reliance, 2 sets of Aldi, 2 sets of HF wood-handled chisels, etc. Unfortunately, I rarely do any woodworking.

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Ocelot

1856 posts in 2477 days


#14 posted 05-26-2017 09:44 PM

See the chisel talk thread here.

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/25043

Oh, for Narex, look on ebay at Tailor Toolworks. They often have 10% or sometimes even 20% sales.

And Grizzley carries a line of Japanese chisels) that have been well reviewed. I have one of them. Can’t say much about it except it came sharp. Don’t have time to do much woodworking.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8328 posts in 1325 days


#15 posted 05-26-2017 10:46 PM

I’ve used vintage Stanley 750s (solid user. Took a lot of work) marples pre-irwin (made in Sheffield, worked great look like poo) HF (dirt cheap. Lotta work. Serviceable.) had a set of Narex Mortising chisels. The milling was trash on my set. Sent them back and got 1 LN chisel.

I have a set of Lie Nielsens now. Fanfreakingtastic all around. Except for the price. Great tools usually cost money though.

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

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