Sleeper hand tools?

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Forum topic by natenaaron posted 08-12-2013 09:57 PM 1730 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1972 days

08-12-2013 09:57 PM

I stumbled on the Narex chisels and have been plenty happy with them. They needed very little flattening and seem to hold an edge. I say seem because I do not use them a whole lot.

My question, as a poor woodworker is this: Are there any other sleeper tools out there besides the Narex. Decent tools at a not extravagant price. Yes I know all about the “you can buy used” mantra and that would is all well and good but when you don’t know what you are looking at or what to buy you just end up wasting your money, which I have done.

I seem to be set with power tools, and what I don’t have I know what to get. Hand tools are a different beast. I own a Stanley smoothing plane, and the narex chisels. I have been reading and learning. I am thinking I need a dove tail saw, maybe a tenon saw, a #6 or #7 plane, but other than that no clue.

I would appreciate the help.

23 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2662 days

#1 posted 08-12-2013 10:18 PM

My suggestion would be not to buy anything until you need it.
If you don’t have a need, why buy it other than to boast about what you own?

In your own words you said you haven’t used the Narex chisels much….. have you figured out how to sharpen them> Do you know what to do if you hit a hidden pin nail?

What my best suggestion would be is that you need to learn how to use the tools that you already own before you spend money on tools you have no need of.

Good Luck!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View shampeon's profile


1859 posts in 2358 days

#2 posted 08-12-2013 10:32 PM

The Veritas dovetail saw is a good one for this category. At $60, it’s almost half the price of the other premium saws, and cheaper than most vintage ones as well.

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

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1972 days

#3 posted 08-12-2013 10:39 PM

Yes I know how to sharpen the chisels. I know what to do when I drive the tip into something it should not be. I have not use the chisels much because without a couple other items like the dove tail saw the need to use them does not arise too often. Without a basic kit it is hard to begin to know what you need and what you do not.

Thanks Ian. I had considered the Veritas but honestly wondered what was wrong with it since it was quite a it cheaper than others. It is now on my list.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3145 days

#4 posted 08-12-2013 10:42 PM

I fully agree on the Vertias saws, and the Narex chisels as being great values.

Another sleeper bargain is the Stanley “Sharp Tooth” hand saws. About $12 with plastic handles and about $26 with wood handles. These are actually pretty good saws.

Marples/Irwin makes a nice little ~7” pull saw that I use all the time. I got mine at Home Depot for around $11.

You need a block plane. I recommend a low angle. Expect to spend about $25 to $35 for a vintage Stanley, or $75 up for new.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2662 days

#5 posted 08-12-2013 11:17 PM

Hmmm, loved the snarky comment.
To do dove tails it is not required to have a dovetail saw.
In your own words, you don’t have a lot of experience buying tools.

Good luck.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View RPhillips's profile


1233 posts in 2011 days

#6 posted 08-12-2013 11:22 PM

Nate, I’m kinda in the same boat as you, I still need to complete a “basic tool set” in order to complete common tasks such as dovetails,etc. I completely understand the point that Dallas was trying to make, but if your like me, using what you have means using nothing. lol

One tip that I might offer is to make what tools you can. Marking gauges, mallet, marking knife, wooden hand plane, work bench, etc. I went that route and have learned a bit from making those items myself. I have also bought used what I could and what I found practical, like a couple hand planes and an old Disston tenon saw.

I just bought a Narex mortise chisel for my bench build, and from the reviews I read, I’ll be picking up the Narex bench chisel set once I get to that step.

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

View EricTy's profile


62 posts in 2425 days

#7 posted 08-12-2013 11:38 PM


I’ll ask for first obvious question: what do you intend to do?

What I mean is, if you are making plywood cabinet carcasses, a dovetail saw won’t do you much good. Do you intend to make cabinets? Straight furniture? Carved furniture? Scroll work? Birdhouses? Trim? Home construction? Demolition?

Once you know which way North is, you can really focus in, research and decide what you need.

I’ve collected a number of tools in the past couple years and can offer my feedback and what I’ve learned from others. It all really depends on you and your vision.

-- Only you know the mistakes were intentional...

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1972 days

#8 posted 08-12-2013 11:58 PM

Hey Dallas, Nothing Snarky in my comment at all.

Good question. I should have put this in my OP. Aside from the big projects, I will use the power on, I also want to make smallish projects like small cabinets, and boxes completely with hand tools so I can learn how to use them. I have always been intrigued by hand cut joinery and figure why not learn. I have also learned, in my time owning a boat shop and getting greasy, that the right tools for the job save a hell of a lot of frustration and time, especially when you are learning. Dallas is right dove tails can be done without a dove tail saw. On the other hand using the correct tool means a lot less frustration in the learning curve.

It was the block plane experience that caused me to make this post. I bought a used “Stanley” plane off Ebay and, well, lets just say it was in a stanley box and buyer beware.

Making tools is a good idea and something I plan on doing, in time. I was looking for products like the Narex chisels, and apparently the veritas saw So I can get to crossing off projects. Right now I have two jobs and not a lot of time. I fit woodworking in when I can. I hope that makes sense.

View poopiekat's profile


4384 posts in 3909 days

#9 posted 08-13-2013 01:05 AM

For a bargain in planes, I’m impressed with “FootPrint” brand. They take an edge well, and for the money they perform quite well. I’ve found a couple of them at antique shows, now I’m seeing them retailing at HD in Canada. I could be wrong, they were once made in England, now probably Asia somewhere, not really sure where mine are from. They perform nearly as well as my SW planes.
I’ve bought lots of chisels on the second-hand market. I have a wide variety, and truly the chisels I like most are bargain brands. My ‘Great Necks’ have performed extremely well for 25 years, I’m not so happy with my Eskiltunas at ten times the price. Even Marples can be a crapshoot, but British tools are generally a good choice. Dunno, maybe it’s my methods of work, my approach to sharpening, or whatever, but you’re on the right track in your quest for high quality bargains. You’ll find tools over a period of time, that compliment your own personal style, without bankrupting you. You just have to look for them.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View bobasaurus's profile


3539 posts in 3359 days

#10 posted 08-13-2013 01:17 AM

I gotta say the woodriver v3 planes are amazing for the price. Also, for some layout tasks, my $15 digital calipers can’t be beat.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Andre's profile


2138 posts in 1980 days

#11 posted 08-13-2013 01:23 AM

Picked up a set of Husky Chisels from Home Depot real cheap and not bad for a tool box chisel.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3533 days

#12 posted 08-13-2013 01:38 PM

IMHO, if you’re looking to learn joinery you’ll need a couple of decent back saws. One filed rip for dovetails and tenons and the other filed crosscut (to finish the tenons), decent marking/mortise gauge, and a bevel gauge. The other suggestion I would offer is to see if there is anyone here that is close to you so you can “test drive” some tools. A local woodworking club would be another good source to try some tools and get some education.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Ray's profile


126 posts in 2177 days

#13 posted 08-16-2013 05:40 AM

++ on the Veritas saws. I bought my first one about 2 years ago and was very pleased. I now have 5 different ones, some purchased on sale and one purchased as a defect/second. I have less into these 5 saws than the cost of one premium saw. I am very happy with the performance of all of them.

Most of my planes are vintage and cost somewhere between $15 and $35. It will take some work, but they seem to perform as well as quality new planes.

Best of luck with your journey.

-- Creating less fire wood every day

View bondogaposis's profile


5054 posts in 2526 days

#14 posted 08-16-2013 12:53 PM

I’m with Dallas on this, if you don’t know what you need, you don’t need it yet. The best way to go about this is to tackle a project, use the tools you have and acquire the ones you don’t have but are necessary to complete the project. Over time your tool collection will suit your needs for the projects you build.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BacktotheWood's profile


125 posts in 3196 days

#15 posted 08-16-2013 01:17 PM

I find it very frustrating to start a project only to find out that I have to stop and find a tool at a price I can afford. I’d rather get the tools I think I’ll use when I find a great deal, and learn how to use them, so I can start projects that I would like to do that need them. Believe me, I’ll find a project to use any new tool I get.

-- Bob, --Silence & smile are two powerful tools. Smile is the way to solve many problems & Silence is the way to avoid many problems.

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