Chisel help please??

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Forum topic by trice posted 09-10-2008 04:43 PM 11716 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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34 posts in 3524 days

09-10-2008 04:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tools chisels tool

Hey guys, I am putting together some tools for traditional wood working and need some chisels. Problem is there are so many out there I don’t know which to get. I also am on a budget, so I need some suggestions.Should I :

1)Get a set of the blue handled Marples, which have pretty good reviews and quite reasonably priced? Most say they are pretty good and would make good entry level chisels.

2)Get a little better set (my budget is max $125.00) For instance C.I. Falls look pretty nice at

3)Get 1 or 2 high quality chisels of say 1/4” and 1/2” to get started with and then add 1 or 2 chisels here and there as need to finally complete a top quality set.

Ok guys, which should I do. Also if you have suggestions on paticular brands of chisels that would be helpful too.

Thanks guys

28 replies so far

View 1978's profile


167 posts in 3578 days

#1 posted 09-10-2008 04:54 PM

Coming from a woodcarver of about 6 years, I would suggest starting out with just a couple of chisels. I made the mistake of buying a set of knives when I first started. I thought cool now that I have knives I can carve. Out of the set of 10, I might use 5. I would suggest buying a couple of chisels and start with that. After carving for a while, you will see which other tools you will need. As for the brand, I believe it is personnal choice.

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3683 days

#2 posted 09-10-2008 04:58 PM

You are going to get a lot of different answers than mine, and I’ll probably get pummeled… lol… but here it goes…

I bought a 5-set package of chisels from sears about 10 years ago for $20. Nothing fancy. I’ve used them in construction and pounded the heck out of them. When I want to do something fine in the shop, I sharpen them and they work terrific. I may be seriously missing out on some other “Super carbon double rolled laser guided triple titanium max epoxy bonded japanese master chisel”...(for a thousand bucks) but mine still work great- for twenty bucks.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that you don’t have to have something really expensive to have it work correctly. It’s your own confidence and practice that makes the tool work.

Just my .02cents…

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3617 days

#3 posted 09-10-2008 05:02 PM

the Blue Marples are pretty good and are not too expensive – make sure you get those that are “made in england” though!

another brand that got good reviews are the Czech Republic’s Narex – they sell them at LeeValley and Amazon

Also Rockler is having this special for Japanese Chisel Set but I wouldn’t use those on a normal day-to-day basis

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Harold's profile


310 posts in 3816 days

#4 posted 09-10-2008 06:03 PM

The Marples would be fine, think about sharpening…I have a double sided DMT 3×10 600/1200 which is a great stone ( not really a stone ) for the bench…it’s also wide enough for a sharpening guide if you wanted at some point …...for plane blades and such..
Steve also made an excellent point….if you watch the close out pages online…you can find excellent individual european style chisels at bargain prices…HT 2C and such.. After working with the marples set for some time you will have a better idea as to which chisel you reach for most often…then you can upgrade to a high quality steel chisel..just for those sizes…for example 1” and 3/8” are mine..

-- If knowledge is not shared, it is forgotten.

View trice's profile


34 posts in 3524 days

#5 posted 09-10-2008 06:23 PM

Thanks for all the replies guys. I am starting to lean toward getting a set of the blue marples. This will like you said get me started.After a while I will probably have a better idea of my needs then I can upgrade. I could still keep the Marples for backup and maybe rougher jobs that I wouldn’t want to use high dollar chisels on.

View lazyfiremaninTN's profile


528 posts in 3922 days

#6 posted 09-10-2008 06:29 PM

I love my 4 chiesel set of Marples. They hold and edge and aren’t that hard to get sharp.

-- Adrian ..... The 11th Commandment...."Thou Shalt Not Buy A Wobble Dado"

View trice's profile


34 posts in 3524 days

#7 posted 09-10-2008 06:34 PM

The again, just when I think I have made a decision I read another tool review somewhere and I change my mind. Good grief! And to think, my last relpy sounded so level headed. LOL!

View trice's profile


34 posts in 3524 days

#8 posted 09-10-2008 06:48 PM

I have considered getting 2 cherries chisels. Seems like from what I read these were really good quality. Maybe start with a 1/4 and a 1/2 inch pair. I don’t know. I am just trying to be careful. I have bought tools before that ended up being junk and a waste of money and am determined not to do this. I have also bought cheap tools before only to end up upgrading very soon afterwards which was also a waste of money. Obviously with money getting tighter and tighter and everything costing more and more I want to be careful about what I spend my hard earned money on. I definately don’t want to end up with cheap, low quality tools. That being said, I don’t want to buy anything just cause its expensive.

Ok guys, I’m done rambling.

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 3523 days

#9 posted 09-10-2008 08:31 PM

I suggest learning to sharpen the chisels before buying something expensive.
For a long time, I was frustrated with chisels because they never seem to be sharp enough. But I learned this was because I was sharpening them incorrectly. Buy some good sharpening stones and a sharpening jig. There are several sharpening tutorials out there online.
Two Cherries are a good brand, I have their scrapers and chisels. I also have several Ohio Tool Co chisels, which are excellent. I got these at an estate sell for $1 – $2 a piece. For most of my hand tools, I go to estate sales and look for the old stuff. They are usually very cheap and high quality. Just make sure they have enough life left in them.

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 3776 days

#10 posted 09-10-2008 08:51 PM

I have Pfeil Swiss Made chisels and I love them. Check out you can order them ala cart or as sets. They hold an edge and have a great feel to them. FFW just did a chisel review in the SEPT/OCT 2008 issue and the Pfeil came in runner up (best overall was Lie-Nielsen). A set of 4 cost $110

View trice's profile


34 posts in 3524 days

#11 posted 09-11-2008 12:55 AM

Thanks guys. I think I am gonna go with the 2 Cherries. The Pfeil chisels do look nice as well. If you were gonna buy say 2 to get started with, what size would you recommend? I was thinking 1/4 ” and mayybe 1/2” or 3/4”. Any suggestions. I guess I am asking if you could only have 2 chisels, what 2 sizes would you get?

Appreciate all the info.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3723 days

#12 posted 09-11-2008 01:30 AM

1/2” is a for sure, then you need to decide if you are going to work in to very small places (ie dovetails/narrow mortises) if yes then 1/4” will be great other wise look at somethinging wider….

While learning to sharpen the 1/4” is a big challenge as it is very easy to rock side to side and put a camber on the blade….

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View laflaone's profile


59 posts in 3649 days

#13 posted 09-11-2008 01:45 AM

You have had some good advice on the posts. I will just reinforce what several have said. Even the most expensive chisels need some work. First, always flatten the back. I mean down to where it shines like a mirror. then the bevels. (plural). Whether its scarey sharp, waterstones, whatever. I have a Veritas MkII jig, and I love it. I don’t believe those who say they can get a consistent bevel by eye alone. As to size, I would get a 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1”

-- "non illegitimis carborundum"

View trice's profile


34 posts in 3524 days

#14 posted 09-11-2008 01:55 AM

I agree withyou that there is alot of good advise here. This is why I love this site. Everyone is very helpful and kind. Alot of sites would just give you alot of flaming and very little info. I will definately need to look into a good system for sharpening. Also with the steel being so hard, the 2 cherries will probably be more work to sharpen but should also hold an edge very good.

Thanks alot guys

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 3607 days

#15 posted 09-11-2008 02:01 AM

Trice, since budget is a concern for an entry level set, I’m going to chime in with SteveKorz, but toss my hat in for the $25 basic set of Stanley Fat Max chisels. ( Individual pieces run from $8 to $18 up to 2”) I have the full set from 1/4” to 2”.

The Fat Max with the full through tangs are made in both China and in England, ,but typically the sets are of Chinese origin, and the individual pieces are from Sheffield England. Look closely at the package if the source matters for you.

My initial surprize was that the Chinese set had a very useable edge fresh from the package. seemingly better than the English versions.

They’re readily available at the blue ‘borg store’.

They’re inexpensive enough that you won’t be afraid to use them.

They have an edge guard that snaps in place to protect the individual chisel.

I like the handle size with combo plastic and rubber grip for a better fit in my medium / large and sometimes sweaty hands.

Take the money you’ve saved and follow cmadea’s advice on a good sharpening jig and stones. I honed a couple of sizes that had the misfortune of falling on the concrete floor, they take a good edge and seem to hold it well.

Good luck with your journey.


-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

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