chisels

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Here's my experiences on the chisel thang:
Marples Blue-handle: I bought a set 1/4-1" around 2002, before they got bought by Erwin. They're pretty good. They hold an edge reasonably well, and sharpen easily. Most flattened pretty quick, though the 3/4" took longer than the rest. The 1/8" is a bit flimsy though, and I've had some problems with poor steel. I managed to break the tip off a 1/8" cutting a 3/8" mortise in cherry. I've also had some very jagged, asymmetrical chips occur on some edges after hitting a hard knot. Definitely a bad batch of steel.
Sorby: Octagonal handle, pattern makers, heavy duty mortise, etc.: These are my favorites. They are pricey, but I've had great results with them. They make one of the best 1/8" mortising chisels I've used. Very well made and tough. They take longer to flatten and sharpen than the Marples, but the results are worth it. Definitely take some 600 grit sandpaper to any edges that your hand will contact. I've gotten some unexpected cuts just from the sharp sides during paring operations.
Japanese "Blue steel": It may be an Iroiyo or an Mistu... Don't remember. FWW had a review and this was rated the top. Mine's a 5/8" Great chisel, and very hard. Back is relieved for ease of flattening. Works well, but needs a steeper bezel than I'm used to, due to the hardness of the steel. Also, the relieved back limits the usefulness of the tool the way I use them.
Crown: I'm not a big fan of these. I own one. A 7/8" std chisel just to round out my selection. I'd rather see them put more money into the steel than the rosewood handles and polished blades. The polishing tends to round over the edges of the blade, including the back, requiring a non-trivial amount of grinding to get to flat metal. The steel is OK, but my Marples are better.
Two cherries: I have one backbent gouge. Not on my top 10 list. Everything but the bezel of the gouge was highly polished and seemed to round over the edges too much. Handle is made of laquered hornbeam, very hard and slippery. Bezel was rough ground. This is OK since I regrind all of the tools once I buy them, especially carving tools.
Pfiel: So far, the best carving tools reasonably available in the US. Just don't buy them from Woodshaft. There are some Canadian dealers that sell for MUCH less, including shipping and insurance. I haven't tried their bench chisels. My only complaint is that they tend to "buff the cutting edge into submission." They call it a microbevel, but it is more of a pain than a help. Once it gets dull, then major sharpening needs to take place. Also, I've noticed that the buffer seems to weaken/overheat the steel at the edge and cause it to fail faster. Once I sharpen past the microbevel, the edge holding is great and has a great edge.
Old tools/flea market/ebay, etc.: There can be some great finds. Older, wooden handled Marples are great. Old Buck Brothers ones are great as well, but have become a collector's item. What a waste. Sorby and Swan are others that can be found as well. Usually cheap.
As for usage, keep them sharp. As soon as you start to notice that they don't cut as cleanly, take a few passes on a strop charged with compound. My favorite is a product called "yellowstone." Woodcraft may still carry it. Awesome stuff. It is quicker to strop for 10 seconds every 1/2 hour than to spend time on a set of stones. If you do need to go to stones / sandpaper, etc., try the finest stone first to see if that will restore the edge. The further down in grit you go, the more grits you need to proceed through to get back to the strop, and that razor edge.
For sizes: 1", 1/4", 1/2", then expand according to need. The 1" is extremely versatile. I know professional custom/repro furniture makers that use a 1" for everything from paring tenons to carving ball and claw feet. I use some very small (1/32") for cleaning up the corners in stringing grooves, and I have a 1-1/2" that I use for cutting inlay and banding. For larger cutting operations, I use a blade from a plane. It works well for cutting parts for compass-rose inlays.
-- Blue Enamel
David wrote:

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"Blue Enamel" wrote in message

Good post ... good info. Thanks for taking the time!
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Last update: 7/23/05
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Sandvik cabinet scrapers are a PITA to deal with, too. I bought one and one those Veritas adjustible burnishers, and the plain-jane scraper that came with the burnisher works a whole lot better. It's just damn near impossible to roll a decent burr on the Sandvik.
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wrote:

Given that LN scrapers are like $7 each, I've sort of let the Sandviks slide to the back of the pack...
Patriarch
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I've got a set of Stanleys, and they serve me well- just keep a stone handy for occasional touch-ups. If you get an initial hollow grind going, a quick honing only takes a minute or so. They take a good keen edge- something that is not always true of the HSS or other specialty cutting tools. Those pricey ones are designed to keep the edge you give them, but not necessarily to get the sharpest edge possible. YMMV.

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I highly recomend chinese HSS chisels. They are very easy to sharpen and hold their edge extremely well. Look here: http://www.dick.biz/cgi-bin/dick.storefront/42e9ccf500364a4e273f50f336090620/Product/View/700980
Unfortunately you only get sizes larger than 1/2"
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On 28 Jul 2005 12:31:13 -0700, the opaque "gregj"

I bought the 5-pc Marples Blue Chips and like them a lot. They're not too brittle, take a good edge, and sharpen easily enough on my diamond plate. For carving, my favorite brand is Pfeil (aka Swiss Made.)

Yeah, half the time they've already been tuned for you and a bit of cleanup and sharpening is all that's needed. GREAT value!
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