What kind of chisels are these?

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Forum topic by stroml posted 04-08-2012 09:02 PM 2035 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 1676 days

04-08-2012 09:02 PM

Hey everyone,

I’m just wondering if these are specialty chisels, or just older bench chisels.

Are they for paring, mallet work, etc? I’m pretty new to chisels, but just taking a look around at all the different options for making dovetails and other joinery work.


-- Strom

10 replies so far

View davidroberts's profile


1025 posts in 2908 days

#1 posted 04-08-2012 10:00 PM

Not sure of the maker, but by all appearances, they are bench chisels used for paring or mallet work, if mallet work is light, as in not mortising. A mortising chisel will be thicker with flat sides, and have a higher bevel angle.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2756 days

#2 posted 04-08-2012 10:08 PM

Old Marples chisels and very good quality to boot from the looks of them. Bench chisels can be used for mortising, but not ideal and best for softer woods. I use them for mortising all the time because I can’t get hold of mortising chisels here in Norway.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Loren's profile


8165 posts in 3070 days

#3 posted 04-08-2012 10:16 PM

Those are general purpose bench chisels for paring and
can take light pounding with a mallet. Heavy pounding
will split the handles. Those are good for dovetails but
not so good for mortising.

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 3175 days

#4 posted 04-09-2012 12:06 AM

Looks like they would be nice for small work. They look well made too.

View stroml's profile


21 posts in 1676 days

#5 posted 04-09-2012 12:33 AM

Thanks for all the replies.

I got outbid on my potential first set of chisels. Hope it wasn’t because of this post…that would be laaaaaame.

-- Strom

View Loren's profile


8165 posts in 3070 days

#6 posted 04-09-2012 12:55 AM

You’ll pay more for matched groups of chisels. Marples
are decent and I have a bunch of them, but prices
they are going for are sometimes a bit high if the chisels
come in good-looking sets.

I think the Freud chisels may be undervalued in online
auctions…. the finish is kind of rough but the carving
chisels I have are well-forged. Stands to reason the
bench chisels would be too. Made in Italy.

View BubbaIBA's profile


383 posts in 1799 days

#7 posted 04-09-2012 11:54 PM

Funny you bring up Freud chisels, I’m in the process of re-grinding the bevel on a set because at 25 degrees they will not hold an edge. One of the reasons I would guess Freud Chisels are cheap, I wouldn’t go so far as calling them undervalued. The set I’m working on, if I remember correctly, are from the mid 70s. The steel is not a high carbon steel but is a chrome vanadium alloy and it will not take a fine edge, and what edge they take dulls very quickly. I’ll try a 30 degree bevel but fully expect they are eBay bound.

View stroml's profile


21 posts in 1676 days

#8 posted 04-10-2012 02:29 AM

I ended up getting a single Jas. Swan Co. 1/2 inch chisel to work with. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m guessing if I learn how to sharpen properly, it should suffice for now.


-- Strom

View BubbaIBA's profile


383 posts in 1799 days

#9 posted 04-10-2012 03:15 AM


Shame you didn’t get those Marples, they were good chisels but Swan chisels are as well. BTW, chisels are like peanuts and chips….one is never enough.

Go to the Tools for Working Wood Site it has a very good article on sharpening iron.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 2704 days

#10 posted 04-10-2012 03:50 AM

The Swan is a better chisel than the Marples. Marples did make some very good chisels a long time ago then they switched to a chrome vanadium steel that’s just too soft. You can tell the early Marples by the hand forged octagonal bolster. Those with the round drop forged bolster. I’ve got a lot of Record Marples chisels from the 1970’s and 80’s and they’re the chrome vanadium steel. Their carving chisels from that period had good steel but the grinding is incomplete and clumsy.

I’ve been watching eBay for a long time looking for Sheffield made tanged chisels in good condition and near their original length. So far, I’ve only seen two of them come up and I got them because I’m willing to bid at the price of the new high-end chisels on the market which aren’t nearly as good. I’ve pretty much given up and am planning on making my own chisels.

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