Do metric chisels play well in an imperial shop?

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Forum topic by MrDan posted 562 days ago 1000 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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199 posts in 1886 days

562 days ago

Hey everyone, I’ve been thinking about purchasing a set of chisels that are measured in metric and therefore do not equate to the standard imperial measurements that we’re all used to in the states. For example 14mm (11/20”) & 20mm (39/50”) instead of 12mm (1/2”) & 19mm (3/4”).

They end up being really close to the standard fractions but are off by just a hair. Can anyone see this creating problems while performing certain chisel operations for any reason?
I can’t think of anything but just wanted to throw the question out there in case someone else has ever run into an issue with this.

Thanks for any insights you might have.

12 replies so far

View rkober's profile


125 posts in 890 days

#1 posted 562 days ago

I think there are some cases that could be an issue. For example mortises. I just ran into this myself where my “1/4” ” chisel was to tight to match a 1/4” dado. Obviously you can make adjustments or even regrind the chisel (provided it’s oversized). I don’t think it’s a deal breaker but be aware so you’re not disappointed.

-- Ray - Spokane, WA - “Most people don’t recognize opportunity because it’s usually disguised as hard work.” - Unknown

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2199 posts in 1757 days

#2 posted 562 days ago

But if its metric, it’s not made in the USA. If it’s not made in the USA, we all know it’s crap. If it’s crap, then it won’t play well in our shops.

Is this logic true? ;)

-- jay,

View Tedstor's profile


1369 posts in 1231 days

#3 posted 562 days ago

My marples chisels (sheffield, england) are etched with imperial measurements but were actually built to metric specs. It’s never been an issue for me.

View LeChuck's profile


417 posts in 1660 days

#4 posted 562 days ago

Seems to me that most chisels out there are actually metric sized even when sold and marked in imperial measurements.

-- David - Tucson, AZ

View bobasaurus's profile


1175 posts in 1782 days

#5 posted 562 days ago

You rarely use a chisel to cut the exact width of the body (except maybe when chopping mortises), so I think you’re fine either way.

-- Allen, Colorado

View bondogaposis's profile


2439 posts in 949 days

#6 posted 562 days ago

Mortises are the main problem. Just get a set of imperial mortise chisels and use the metrics for bench chisels. I don’t know about you but I really mostly only chop 1/4” and 3/8” mortises anyway so you only need them in a few sizes.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View MrDan's profile


199 posts in 1886 days

#7 posted 562 days ago

Thanks a lot guys, that’s about what I thought. I’ve got imperial mortise chisels so I’m good in that department.

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


3599 posts in 1966 days

#8 posted 562 days ago

The chips created by a metric chisel can only be picked up by a metric vacuum.

I know ‘cause I have a set of metric chisels!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Moron's profile


4666 posts in 2492 days

#9 posted 562 days ago

excuses are a dime a dozen

if you cant count a chisel will be of little use

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View ksSlim's profile


955 posts in 1488 days

#10 posted 562 days ago

Bench need to be sharp and hold an edge.
Mine were made in Germany years ago.

My mortice “pig stickers” are of English origin.
If I ever wear them out, I’d probably buy from the same companies.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Purrmaster's profile


774 posts in 691 days

#11 posted 562 days ago

As some have said, I think most chisels are actually created in metric but are then stamped with their closest imperial equivalent. I think you have to get pretty high end chisels (think Lie Nielsen) to get true imperial sizes.

I have metric mortise chisels and I haven’t had a problem.

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


3599 posts in 1966 days

#12 posted 561 days ago

Mine metric/fractional chisels are Sandvick which I got for .75¢/$ because the top of the case had some scratches but none of the chisels were effected. A good set in my opinion and they marked as both metric and fractional as follows:
6mm 1/4” and actually measure 15/64” .241”
10mm 3/8” ” ” ” 25/64” .395”
12mm 1/2” ” ” ” 15/32” .471”
18mm 3/4” ” ” ” 45/64” .708”
25mm 1” ” ” ” 63/64” .981”
32mm 1-1/4” ” ” ” 1-17/64” 1.260”

The only one that causes me any problem is the 3/8” as it is actually oversize and it is one I use a lot!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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