Should I buy the Stanley Sweetheart 750 chisel set?

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Forum topic by jtm posted 06-13-2014 07:12 AM 12630 views 0 times favorited 38 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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230 posts in 1636 days

06-13-2014 07:12 AM

He folks,

I currently have the $5 set of chisels from Harbor Freight.

They work okay, but I’d really like a fairly decent set.

Not $300 decent, but not the $20 Kobalt set at Lowes either.

Right now, the standard 4 chisel Stanley Sweetheart set is on sale at Amazon for $85 with free shipping. (you need to go to checkout to see the discount). Seems like a good deal considering everyone else sells these for $130.

Is this better than the Narex or Woodriver set?

Also, I assume this is a decent step up from the Harbor Freight chisels, correct?

Keep in mind that I’m not a sharpening expert, nor do I have hundreds of dollars worth of waterstones.

38 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10401 posts in 3648 days

#1 posted 06-13-2014 07:16 AM

Is this better than the Narex or Woodriver set?


View jtm's profile


230 posts in 1636 days

#2 posted 06-13-2014 07:21 AM

Thanks Loren.

I know that the Narex, Woodriver, England Marples, and Stanley Sweethearts all get lumped into the “decent mid-grade” category.

My question is whether or not the Sweethearts are a tier higher than the others.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


264 posts in 1494 days

#3 posted 06-13-2014 09:34 AM

Chisels are a very personal thing. Lots of opinions and even a magazine test if want to believe the data.

Like you I have the same question on the Stanley 750’s, and wished they were in the magazine test.
I started buying 1-2 chisels in the sizes I always use and gathered my own opinion.
My issue with most all the “average” chisels is edge retention (as I dislike having to stop work to sharpen):
- The newer Irwin Marples get wicked sharp, but fracture the edge if you don’t stop to sharpen as it gets dull. Once it breaks, it’s back to 80 grit to reshape the edge. They dull quickly, but will still cut even with fractured edges. They drove me crazy, and don’t get used anymore in my shop.
- Bought a Narex to test it out. Nice chisel. Edge retention is only average.
- Have both an old garage sale Stanley 750 and new 750. Edge retention on the old chisel is better than the new one, the new 750 durability is only a slight bit better than Narex.
- Have some 40yr old Greenlee’s (USA), and Dunlap (Germany) that are good, with edge retention equal to the older Stanley 750.
- I took my (2) 750’s to LN hand tool event for a direct comparison with some very hard maple that was killing my chisel edges quickly. I like the LN in all aspects, except edge retention. My old chisel 750 held an edge longer, even when sharpened by LN staff and tested side by side with an expert. Needless to say, I didn’t take home a set.
- Recently bought a set of 4 Foot Print (Sheffield steel, wood handled) chisels at a local store on sale for $50. These have the best edge retention I have seen in an “average” standard bevel edge chisel to date. Bought them for a set of beaters in portable tool box, and was surprised on the edge durability. They are my regular use shop chisels now.
- If you don’t need to cut narrow side bevel for dovetails, I also really like the Grizzly Japanese chisels. Have only sharpened the test pair I bought than a few times, but so-far the edges are proving just as durable than my Foot Print chisels.

As with all chisel opinions, YMMV.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View ChefHDAN's profile


1062 posts in 2849 days

#4 posted 06-13-2014 11:57 AM

Captain, thanks for a great bit of info, I just peeked and saw some pretty wide price variences in the Footprint chisels, can you specify which series you’re impressed with, I just saw a ridiculous deal for a 6 piece set and want to be sure the 88 series is a good buy

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View LJD4662's profile


35 posts in 1700 days

#5 posted 06-13-2014 12:00 PM

I have the new sweetheart 750’s. I would say they are worth the money. The edge retention is average. What really surprised me is how light weight they are.

View mramseyISU's profile


534 posts in 1545 days

#6 posted 06-13-2014 12:05 PM

I’ve had my eye on a set of pfiel chisels from woodcraft for a while now. They might be a little more than you want to pay but I’ve been using some of their other tools and have been impressed with them. If you look at that article posted above they ranked second best overall.

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

View bbrown's profile


230 posts in 3552 days

#7 posted 06-13-2014 01:08 PM

The Marples Blue Chip chisels are an excllent value for good quality chisels. Buy a set for the best price. I’ve used these exclusivley for years and even got a nod of approval once from Mario Rodriquez who ought to know.

I’m assuming that the quality has not changed significantly in the past few years.

-- Bill Micah 6:8

View waho6o9's profile


8191 posts in 2577 days

#8 posted 06-13-2014 01:17 PM

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1869 days

#9 posted 06-13-2014 01:27 PM

I suggest a look at some old 750s. Sometimes pricey, but sometimes you get them for a song.

I picked some up by happy accident recently. (Mine are actually 720s which are longer) and they hold the edge longer than the new 750 sweethearts I have. I’m thinking about collecting a full set of 720s and/or 750s then selling my sweethearts. It’s also easier (to me) to put the old blades on a piece of sandpaper or stone. I’m way to gentle on my new chisels.

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

View vbraddy17's profile


11 posts in 1447 days

#10 posted 06-13-2014 05:31 PM

I would personally suggest the Narex chisels. I can’t imagine any set outside high end chisels would be significantly better. i sold a set of pfeil a couple weeks ago and am about to sell some crown chisels because I simply like the Narex better. I’m going to eventually get some lie nieslens or Veritas. Just haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

View JayT's profile


5632 posts in 2211 days

#11 posted 06-13-2014 05:57 PM

Here’s my first question. Do you need a full set?

If not, you might be ahead to purchase a top quality chisel or two in the sizes you use most and add other sizes as they are needed. I can definitely recommend Two Cherries and there are others as good, but I haven’t tried them to make a recommendation.

If you decide you really want/need all four sizes, that price on the new 750’s is pretty decent and there are a couple LJ members I know of that like them.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Loren's profile


10401 posts in 3648 days

#12 posted 06-13-2014 06:17 PM

I’ve seen it written that sometimes you need to get back 1/8” or more
into the chisel to get to the good steel. I have some Sorby’s
that I think may have this issue. I’ve tolerated their uninspired
edge holding because they are heavy firmer chisels used for
chopping, not paring.

So, if you think a chisel set should be better than it is turning
out to be, consider grinding one back to see if edge holding

View ColonelTravis's profile


1772 posts in 1894 days

#13 posted 06-13-2014 06:32 PM

$85 for those 750s is a good deal. Like Captain said, edge retention is what’s going to sell chisels (or drive you nuts.) Not everyone gets to test all sorts of brands out personally, including me, so I just go by what the expert consensus seems to be. Had a bunch of amazon gift certificates and ordered a set of three Narex mortise chisels. No clue how they’ll hold up but I thought they’d be worth a try.

Captain – Interesting you said the L-N’s didn’t impress you in holding an edge. Not disagreeing with that viewpoint, I’ve never used them. But I wouldn’t have given that A2 a second thought.

Loren – thanks for that tidbit.

View JohnChung's profile


408 posts in 2074 days

#14 posted 06-13-2014 06:59 PM

I would keep the money to buy stones first. No point to buy good steel when the edge cannot be kept sharp. If you are cash strap go with scary sharp method first. It would not provide the best edge as the paper
is easily torn and hard to keep flat with glue itself.

I went with pretty decent gear first then invested on stones. After reflecting on it. Go with stones first as
standard carbon steel as pretty good for a day except with hard wood. I mixed by gear with higher end stuff
with cheaper steel from China.

Marples chisels are pretty decent. Can last depending on the working wood. If hard wood then each day requires sharpening on any chisel grades.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


264 posts in 1494 days

#15 posted 06-14-2014 01:34 PM

I also heartily agree with others recommending you master a sharpening method before you buy more/better chisels. You need to become very proficient with a sharpening method of your choice (making your HF chisels capable of shaving); before you will notice much difference in the cutting performance in various chisels.

Scary sharp works well for those starting out, and is relatively easy to master.
I’ve slowly started switching to water stones and trying them out didn’t cost me hundreds of dollars. While it is not the best stone available, a cheap (<$40) starter stone is the King 1000/6000 combo. After setting the course angle with 100-220 grit paper (or a grinder), it works pretty well. The 6K will create a reasonable polished edge on your chisels. I am sure the “stone must be perfectly flat” purists will ban me for suggesting this, but you can also get a medium sized (2X3) coarse diamond plate to use for stone flattening for <$35 as well and have a fairly low cost beginners water stone setup. You can always add to your collection as I did; I recently added a 10K stone to get my 25 degree paring chisels and plane blades a wee bit sharper.

FWIW – Here is a pic of one of the beech handled foot print chisels that work ok for me. There isn’t any PN, or many identifying marks.

Don’t get me wrong when I say they are good, they are still only an “average” chisel. The Sheffield steel was the key reason I bought them. They needed typical tuning of any cheap cutting tool; new 30 degree edge, flatten and polish backs, and the oval handles were unfinished hardwood that needed finish sanding plus a few coats of BLO. After getting them tuned, they work well. I am sure if I could afford some high end Japanese chisels or the Veritas PM11 chisels, I might be saying the Foot Print are so-so? :)

Best of luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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