Chisels...Where to start?

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Forum topic by RPhillips posted 06-25-2013 02:52 AM 1969 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1110 posts in 1673 days

06-25-2013 02:52 AM

I’m looking for some advice on purchasing my first real set of chisels. Where do I start? Below are a few that I have found. I would like to get a good set under $100, but I am willing to go up to $200 if it’s worth the extra coin.

Here are a few that have caught my eye:

Sorby Sheaf River Series

Stanley Sweet Heart 750 series

Wood River 6 Piece Bench Chisel

Irwin Blue Chip 6 Piece Chisel

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

29 replies so far

View Buckethead's profile


3193 posts in 1705 days

#1 posted 06-25-2013 03:04 AM

I am a n00b as well. I just got my fourth Stanley Sweetheart and I have no complaints. I did try to get just a single chisel (1/2”) but having different sizes was recommended, and the recommendations were spot on.

I’m sure more experienced people will chime in, but I did want to say that my new chisels seem pretty sweet to me.

I did jab myself in the thumb by not having my workpiece properly secured to a stable surface in addition to attempting to use a chisel as a plane.

Yup… They’re sharp.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

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8027 posts in 2413 days

#2 posted 06-25-2013 03:20 AM

One can learn a lot in the above thread, and shorten the learning

curve as well.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


14847 posts in 2455 days

#3 posted 06-25-2013 04:00 AM

I’ve done a review of the SW re-issues, and after 18 months or so of use, they’re still a five-star. Good stuff, FWIW.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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9627 posts in 3484 days

#4 posted 06-25-2013 05:23 AM

I hit them with a steel hammer so I prefer bench
chisels with butyrate or hooped wood handles.

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921 posts in 1947 days

#5 posted 06-25-2013 05:52 AM

I’ve had the Narex chisels for a while now and they seem to be holding up all right.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2020 days

#6 posted 06-25-2013 06:48 AM

IMO, the chisels aren’t really as important as the sharpening method. There are a couple good ones, both mechanical and manual, and it’s up to you to figure out which one you’ll use more. Choose one and get really good at it, and whatever chisel you end up buying will do its job.

Oh, and there are a ton of great, unloved vintage chisels out there that need just a little upfront time to get back into working order. Some that I like are: Union/Samson, Pexto/PSW, Butcher, Greenlee, Herring, Challenger, Buck Bros.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View knotscott's profile


7786 posts in 3212 days

#7 posted 06-25-2013 08:53 AM

Find a set that feels good in your hands, and learn how to sharpen them.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View HorizontalMike's profile


7658 posts in 2750 days

#8 posted 06-25-2013 12:16 PM

+10 on having a good sharpening routine.

PLUS, have a good easily accessible ‘honing’ routine while you are actively using them. I use the heavy brown contractor’s paper that I cover my bench with. A few swipes every few minutes while chiseling makes all of the difference, IMO. And the resulting mirror finish tells me that I must be onto something. ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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1643 posts in 2469 days

#9 posted 06-25-2013 01:06 PM

Of the given choices, I’d go with the Stanleys. I have a SW 1/8”. It’s well made and performs nicely.

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17024 posts in 2843 days

#10 posted 06-25-2013 01:11 PM

Id also vouch for the reissue 750’s. They don’t chop as good as my vintage firmer Witherby’s but it’s not really an apples to apples comparison either.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View RPhillips's profile


1110 posts in 1673 days

#11 posted 06-25-2013 05:35 PM

I’m going with the scary sharp method of sharpening for now, and may consider water stones sometime down the road.

I like the type of handles on these chisel, which one of the primary reasons I picked them. I’m going to make a trip out to Woodcraft and see how the feel. I wanted make sure that none of these I should avoid.

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8487 posts in 1819 days

#12 posted 06-25-2013 11:12 PM

Sounds like a plan. You can totally get a decent set of chisels in the $100 range. Stanley Sw, sorby, narex, and I would throw in Ashley Illes (which I have). No need to go with Chinese made marples or wood river when you have those options.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

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1309 posts in 1771 days

#13 posted 06-26-2013 02:05 AM

I went with Paul Seller’s advice and got a 6 chisel set for $75 including shipping. They are only around over in England, but they can ship them over here. I have been pleased with them and they were cheap.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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Paul C.

154 posts in 3082 days

#14 posted 06-26-2013 02:11 AM

Narex chisels are very good value for money. I have bad arthritis and neuropathy in my large hands, and these chisels work great for me. Get the small set, and buy a honing guide and a 1000/4000 combo stone. Add an 8000 when you can.
Set for life.

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1782 posts in 2400 days

#15 posted 06-26-2013 02:30 AM

i find typically narex get a lot of love on this topic around here

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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