Trouble with chisel edge retention

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Forum topic by Dave11 posted 07-14-2013 08:12 PM 1802 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 2535 days

07-14-2013 08:12 PM

I recently bought a set of the new perfect-pattern chisels from LV, because they looked really interesting. In fact they are nice to see up close and feel nice in my hand. They seem to have been ground at 25 degrees.

The first chisel out of the box though had a damaged corner, as though it had hit the milling machine wrong. I normally sharpen now freehand, but since the edge was going to need so much work, I pulled out my MKII and used that.

After a lot of work, I had a proper edge. Took the chisel to some end grain pine, and it pared nicely. Then chopped a shallow mortise in pine, about a minute’s worth, and looked at the edge. It was very damaged, looked like the edge of a serrated knife.

I had not put a micro/secondary bevel on it with the MKII, I just didn’t think to.

I resharpened the edge using my normal freehand way, which normally makes a very slight convexity. Sharpening the damaged chisel this way, the edge holds up to chopping just fine.

I tried a second chisel from the box, and with no secondary bevel, it became damaged just the same.

So are these chisels poorly made? If a chisel edge is easily damaged at 25 degrees, just because it has only a primary bevel, is that a defect?

They are not described as paring chisels.


12 replies so far

View Wally331's profile


350 posts in 1992 days

#1 posted 07-14-2013 08:25 PM

The chisels are made of a type of stainless steel, their not quite as hard as high carbon or a tool-steel chisel. I don’t think that they are poorly made, just made of a slightly softer steel. I would think that a 30 degree bevel would hold up fine.

View Dave11's profile


33 posts in 2535 days

#2 posted 07-14-2013 08:35 PM

What you say about the softness makes sense, but at the same time, for any chisel to become visibly damaged by one minute of chopping in soft pine? That would seem like the wrong choice of steel.

View Loren's profile


10274 posts in 3615 days

#3 posted 07-14-2013 09:44 PM

25 degrees is a bit shallow for chopping, but you seem
aware of this.

Sometimes in regular tool steel chisels, the better
steel is back a bit from the factory edge, so grinding
them back 1/8” or so may reveal a more durable
steel for edge retention.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2938 days

#4 posted 07-15-2013 01:47 PM

They are beautiful chisels, but I’m afraid they might be, in cowboy terms, all hat and no rope.

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3544 days

#5 posted 07-15-2013 02:02 PM

I saw a special on these chisels(beautiful) but I was very concerned about LV using stainless steel for chisels. You might try mortising a harder wood after resharpening. If you can’t get them to hold an edge I would get in touch with LV and see if they will give you a refund .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Makarov's profile


102 posts in 1773 days

#6 posted 07-15-2013 02:14 PM

It doesn’t matter what the steel is, if it isn’t heat treated properly then it wont hold an edge.
My guess is they slipped through the cracks of quality control. Call LV and ask them to fix the problem.

-- "Complexity is easy; Simplicity is difficult." Georgy Shragin Designer of ppsh41 sub machine gun

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15283 posts in 2586 days

#7 posted 07-15-2013 02:37 PM

I wouldn’t keep them either. Replace or refund would be top options, as you’ve given the tools a complete opportunity to work and they just don’t. I love Crank’s comment, and agree.

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

View Dave11's profile


33 posts in 2535 days

#8 posted 07-16-2013 02:13 AM

Thanks for the input everyone. I’ll call LV tomorrow and see what they say.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2657 days

#9 posted 07-16-2013 02:31 AM

“All hat and no CATTLE” is the quote and I have to agree. I have never had anything made of stainless that held an edge. There is a reason they don’t make scalpels from stainless!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Woodbum's profile


806 posts in 3033 days

#10 posted 07-16-2013 12:39 PM

I second gfadvm. As a fellow Okie, I am sure that this vet has seen a lot of broomstick cowboys in his time. All hat and no cattle is a great expression that we use all of the time here in the land of cattle F5s and every other adverse weather event that you can name.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View Dave11's profile


33 posts in 2535 days

#11 posted 07-16-2013 03:10 PM

Called LV today. They just shrugged (over the phone) and said: “Well, you can send them back, or sharpen them at a higher angle.”

I said: “You might want to make it clear ahead of time that the chisel edges will chip if they’re used at the angle ground at the factory.”

Just got the shrug again.

In all fairness, they offered to take them back even if re-ground, and even down the road. Guess that’s what I’ll do.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2938 days

#12 posted 07-17-2013 03:14 PM

Actually I got the “All hat and no ROPE” quote from a friend who runs about 500 head of cattle here in Tennessee and also drives a “Bull wagon”. He told me he first heard the saying in the Rodeo circuits where he hauls sometimes. That is probably where the rope vs. cattle difference came in. Rodeos don’t have as much to do with cattle as they do with roping skills.

Either way, I was referring to stainless chisels as being “More show than Go.” That’s just a fact. It is possible to get a sharp edge on some alloys of stainless, ones in the 400 series, but the tools will not hold that edge as long as high carbon tool steel in my experience.

The sharpest tools I have ever worked with are not normally used in wood working, they are surgical scalpels. Now those things are truly “scary” sharp. And I can get them in carbon steel or stainless steel. When they are new, they are both perfectly sharp. Can’t tell the difference in sharpness. After cutting rubber molds, however, a stainless scalpel will be dull after one mold. A carbon steel scalpel will still be going strong after 5 or 6 molds.

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