Do metric chisels play well in an imperial shop?

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Forum topic by MrDan posted 01-08-2013 06:47 PM 3215 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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205 posts in 3222 days

01-08-2013 06:47 PM

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


137 posts in 2227 days

#1 posted 01-08-2013 07:02 PM

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


2202 posts in 3093 days

#2 posted 01-08-2013 07:03 PM

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


1643 posts in 2567 days

#3 posted 01-08-2013 07:48 PM

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


424 posts in 2997 days

#4 posted 01-08-2013 08:31 PM

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


3396 posts in 3119 days

#5 posted 01-08-2013 08:34 PM

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 (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

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4639 posts in 2286 days

#6 posted 01-08-2013 09:56 PM

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


205 posts in 3222 days

#7 posted 01-09-2013 05:22 AM

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)


6689 posts in 3302 days

#8 posted 01-09-2013 05:31 AM

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


5032 posts in 3828 days

#9 posted 01-09-2013 05:33 AM

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


1273 posts in 2824 days

#10 posted 01-09-2013 11:26 AM

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


915 posts in 2028 days

#11 posted 01-09-2013 11:48 AM

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)


6689 posts in 3302 days

#12 posted 01-10-2013 02:29 AM

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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