Irwin chisels - fettling fresh from the box

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So I've taken on the task of getting a set of 6 Irwin brand chisels in working order for a friend of mine. These must be the former Marples, as they're pretty much identical. But not totally. I have a 10 year old set of Marples, and I don't recall the factory grind being quite so poor, especially the primary bevel. It's practically toothed. Not so sure about steel quality. The backs aren't flat really either, but this I recall was the same with the Marples. The 1.25" took some fairly serious effort even with fresh 120 on a granite surface plate.
Just as an aside, I wouldn't say I'm a big fan of my Marples. They're quite top heavy, and I actually drilled out a bunch of holes in the handle of my 1" to improve balance. And they are also in reality metric, not imperial. Which is not the system we use at work. And since I've been acquiring good quality antique chisels I've noticed that I'm not real impressed with the edge retention.
Just my two cents. JP
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I bought six sets of those Irwin chisels for my club's shop... I used a Makita horizontal, water cooled, blade sharpener to do all but the final polishing of the primary bevel and micro bevel. I followed up with my Arkansas stones. It took a while to sharpen 36 chisels but it wasn't terrible. They weren't as nice from the factory as my 25+/- year old Marples set but they most weren't as rough as what you described. A few did have course grinder swirls on the backs that took a while to remove but most smoothed up quickly. These chisels have proven serviceable and hold an edge pretty well for "class" purposes.
John
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I bought the marples about 15 years ago, the quality was good, not great.
I did notice the IRWIN's were crap compared to what I got. The machining looked awful. Lots of work to get those babies in shape, glad I have older marples. I too have other old stanleys some very old. The quaility is hard to tell, they have been quite used. Some quite ground up and short. But all seem to work well. Wish I had good handles for a few, they are no longer holding into the sockets.
If I had to recommend a set of chisels today, it might be the Narex for the price. If someone could afford it the LN seem to be nice.
On 3/3/2012 9:46 AM, John Grossbohlin wrote:

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On Saturday, March 3, 2012 8:46:59 AM UTC-6, John Grossbohlin wrote:

After the Arkansas stones, would a strop and compound have made them any sharper? Or is that overkill?
Thanks,
Mike
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No... probably the contrary!
I have a large black Arkansas bench stone on which I do the final polish and micro bevel. From a practical standpoint I don't think you can really do any better than that stone when it comes to polishing and taking off any remaining wire edge. After running through the soft and medium stones it only takes a couple swipes on the black stone to finish the job... it's very fine but it cuts.
John
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On Saturday, March 3, 2012 8:23:16 PM UTC-6, John Grossbohlin wrote:

Ok, thanks. It sounds like I need to work on my technique.
Mike
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On Sat, 03 Mar 2012 04:55:48 -0800, JayPique wrote:

That's one of my long standing complaints. Even some heavy duty Sorby mortise chisels are marked as 25mm and 1". Grrrrrrrr!
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Speaking of chisels... Sharpened my collection of two chisels on a belt sander today. Used a felt marker to color them first. Easy as pie to get the edges perfect using a belt sander.

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On Sunday, March 4, 2012 9:06:49 PM UTC-5, John Doe wrote:

Oh my, that's a marshmallow and a worm together on that hook. JP
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Yea, I think if we are smart we stay away from that one. If he's happy who are we to tell him otherwise.
On 3/4/2012 9:34 PM, JayPique wrote:

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I have no idea why you're suggesting that my post is a troll or that using a belt sander to sharpen a chisel is a bad practice. I have a good eye for detail and I do plenty of precision work, sometimes dwelling on it. I couldn't build my stuff otherwise. If you are a chisel using guru, you should easily explain why using a belt sander is a bad thing. I'm not a woodworking guru, but I can probably counter with enough Internet citations. So go for it.
tiredofspam <nospam.nospam.com> wrote:

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John Doe wrote:

It's probably good enough for the chisels you are using. Just go with it.
I'm not a woodworking guru, but I can

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I too was curious as to the reason, and to boil a 3-page Sawmill Creek Google search result down, it's heat and rounding the edges. Belt sanders can create heat quite quickly that might cause the chisel to lose the temper. Also, the flexible nature of the belt makes it easy to round over the edges.
As a final note, some people like a hollow grind on their chisels, so honing is easier. An ideal belt sander will give a flat surface instead.
Puckdropper
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On 3/5/2012 1:29 AM, Puckdropper wrote:

Bull!!!! I have plenty of tools and plenty of years and plenty of experience. I can give you a better hollow grind on the hard wheel of a belt sander than you can get from most anything else. I will put my chisels and edges up against anything you have, let's start installing locksets in hardwood jambs and doors.
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"DanG" wrote in message

Bull!!!! I have plenty of tools and plenty of years and plenty of experience. I can give you a better hollow grind on the hard wheel of a belt sander than you can get from most anything else. I will put my chisels and edges up against anything you have, let's start installing locksets in hardwood jambs and doors. ===========================================================Belt grinders are standard in the knife making trade due to low heat generated and quick grit change.
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On 3/6/2012 8:32 AM, CW wrote:

And maybe better suited to putting the very small angled bevel you generally want on a knife? Just a guess.
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says...

They aren't just used for sharpening, they're used for shaping as well. Many turners also use belt sanders for sharpening their turning tools.
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On 3/4/2012 9:29 PM, John Doe wrote:

Typically a factory sharpened chisel is belt sanded. Using sand paper to sharpen with is a great way to accomplish a great edge and quickly. But typically sanding belts do not go a fine enough grit to accomplish a desired sharpness, smoothness/mirror finish that most seasoned woodworkers try to achieve. It is a common practice to resharpen even high quality new chisels to get that mirror finish before ever using them.
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John Doe wrote:

That is because like most things in wood working - it is all opinion based on what the individual likes best.
Christoforo wrote that belt sanders are a great way sharpen items. He pointed out that because of the long surface area (probably in conjunction with the thin media) it dissipates heat faster than a stone. He also pointed out that the plate may be removed for convex surfaces.
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Michael Joel

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Michael Joel wrote:

That would be DeChristofor of course.
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Michael Joel

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