I have been looking at a number of chisel makers and reading any posted
preferences and I guess it's time for me to solicit your opinions on a
choice manufacturers. I guess if money wasn't an object I wouldn't need to
post this question, but I want value for my investment.
I have looked at Barr, Sorby, L-N and several Japanese blacksmiths Tasai and
Koshimitsu as well as Two Cherries.
Because the L-N's are fairly new, I am not inclined to make them my first
choice, although I have a number of L-N planes and they are simply
wonderful. The Barr's are high on my list. Not sure about the Sorby's as I
have gotten mixed reviews from other woodworkers.
As far as the Japanese variety is concerned, there is some attraction about
purchasing a chisel from someone classically trained in blacksmithing and
who can trace their lineage back to Samurai swordsmiths. The top line
makers' chisels are quite costly.
I open it up to you. What is a good chisel line for classic
furnituremaking; chisels that should last several lifetimes.
On Mon, 11 Apr 2005 18:49:58 -0400, "news.east.cox.net"
Cheap Japanese Iyoroi with the oak handles. Only ever use the
Japanese ones on the bench, with well-clamped workpieces.
Don't get anything Japanese that's more expensive than the Iyoroi
(read Toshio Odate for why). And there are no "Samurai swordsmiths"
making chisels anyway.
Sorby are flakey for quality, Crown are consistently awful. Henry
Taylor are what Sorby ought to be.
And a $10 chinese set to go in the toolbag. You _do_ need to have
rubbish chisels on hand for knocking through drywall. Be prepared.
Chisels don't last that long - they're a wear item.
I recommend Stubai. Read the review on the Diefenbacher website, as I
own a set I entirely agree with it. They hold the edge well and when I am
slamming (!) the blade into doug fir using a beech mallet, they do not*
take niks in the cutting edge, RC 60. Seriously.
I have sharpened the Stubais side by side with a Bahco/Sandvik (lots on
eBay) on Norton yellow 220 A/O and the Stuabi leaves a light grey dust,
a fast and easy to attain edge that is glass_smooth_razor_sharp. Perfect
The Sandvik (Sweden) leaves it very dark and "gummy" (so to speak) and
a harder to attain, not_as_good edge. These equalize with the cheap chrome
vanadium chisels from woodworker's supply, the older style set of which I
have (soft blue plastic handles, super cheap).
I have new Buck bros. chisels (hickory handles with leather tops) that are a
better steel that the Sandviks but they are RC 59 and did take some niks,
not hard enough. When sharpening, they leave a non gummy color that is
merely darker than the Stubais, but a powder and not as dark as the Sandvik.
I would not recommend the Sorbys just from what I have read, they add
too much silicon so that the metal is more absorbing of shock... so they
are softer and need sharpening more often, lower RC. They might take a
nice edge easily though. Great marketeers in business (what a "name").
Other folks in here recommend Two Cherries (a TON!), so here is a site
where a set is cheaper: http://www.carbide.com/ and lots of hard work
to flatten the backs from too much machine polishing.
Stuabi are cheaper and just as worth it: http://www.diefenbacher.com /
made Austria, very flat backs. Don't let the low price fool ya... and good
Alex - newbie_neander in woodworking
I know nothing of the Japanese chisels. This, in spite of the long and
noble history of Japanese woodworking in the SF Bay Area. I am humbled
by my ignorance in this area.
A year ago, I was stunned at the purity of the execution of the old
Stanley 750 design by the toolsmiths at LN, and laid my Visa card on the
table at the woodshow for a 'pre-production order' set. They arrived 3
weeks later, and have been absolutely wonderful. A number of 'name'
endorsers and publications seem to agree.
Barr chisels are made, I understand, by a New England version of the
classically trained blacksmith, and are also wonderful, but different.
There has been an excellent series of articles at woodcentral.com, with
comments by a wooden boat builder, Bob Smalser, with his long experience
and strongly held opinion laid clear. He favors old tools.
In addition to the LN paring chisel set, I have a number of specialty
chisels, most of less noble lineage, but still quite useful. And a set
of blue chip Marples, which I allow other users in my modest shop to
use. There is a set of carpenter chisels, hardware store house brand,
for whacking on tubafours and the like, and an old set of plastic-
handled Craftsman chisels that my dad sent home with me recently,
because they needed some serious TLC. They will end up in the toolbox
my adult sons are allowed to borrow, once they are reasonably
One set of chisels is a concept not unlike one handplane - not easily
grasped. Mortise chisels, sash chisels, paring chisels, skew chisels,
ad infinitum. Like potato chips.
Good luck. But I like my LN set, for showing off, and for fine detail
Every good chisel in my shop came from garage sales, flea markets or the
like. When you can get a whole handful for $10 it is definitely worthwhile.
I have old Bucks, Witherby and Swans that are as good as any new super duper
creation. The best ones came without handles. Chisel making is not rocket
science! Nor is tuning a chisel beyond anyone with a little patience.
Incidentally, all of my good chisels are socket firmers; I find the extra
length and weight helpful.
I recently bought a set of Ashley Islles American Pattern chisels from
Tools for Working Wood http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/ . They are
shorter than standard, almost like a butt chisel but really nice to
handle. The steel is excellent and the Bubinga handles are nice and
hard. I did split one during a big job on Jatoba but i will return it
and expect a replacement as I think that handle was flawed. They are a
beuatiful set. i was also considering the LN's but they didn't offer a
full range of sizes yet.
I replaced a set of Frued's which are fine chisles but a little soft so
I was sharpening more often then I like. Now I find myself using both
plus the paring chisels plus the sash morticing and the skew and the old
set of stanley butt chisels for cleaning glue and other oblgatory tasks.
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