Author Topic: Chisel advice needed  (Read 2969 times)

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Offline travisj

  • Posts: 363
Chisel advice needed
« on: March 29, 2019, 06:10 PM »
I need some advice on bench chisels.  I picked up a five piece set of Robert Sorby bench chisels (along with the full compliment of their Firmer chisels) about a decade ago off of Ebay.  They were all new and ridiculously cheap (IIRC $250 for 5 bench, 9 Firmer, and 3 Corner).  Long story short, my father thought he was doing me a favor and sharpened the bench chisels on a WorkSharp 3000 about 6 years ago.  He cooked the blades on several of the bench chisels and they no longer hold an edge.  I have made do with my old set of Craftsman chisels (which hold an edge extremely well), but it is time for some proper bench chisels again.  My questions would be what brand or style do you prefer and why?  I have begun my research process and plan to investigate Lie-Nielsen, Blue Spruce, and Veritas.  I have not found a vendor for any of these locally so seeing them in person is, unfortunately, not a valid option.  My question would be what brand/style would be the recommendation and why?  Is there a brand other than those three that I should look at/for?

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Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1667
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2019, 06:44 PM »
Can you grind them back past the section that got cooked?  It’s a bit of work, but I think they could be serviceable again.  If you don’t have a grinder, I could do one for you so you can judge for yourself.
-Raj

Offline derekcohen

  • Posts: 322
    • In The Woodshop
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2019, 08:52 PM »
Hi Travis

It may not have been your father ... modern Sorbys have a reputation for being softer and not holding an edge as well. It is possible to re-heat treat them and, if they were mine, that is what I would do. But then I have done that kind of stuff before and do not find it daunting (it is really easier than it seems).

Of other chisels, I am sure that any of the three you mention would satisfy. However, Veritas stand out as they offer PM-V11 steel, and this really is head and shoulders above A2, which is what LN and Blue Spruce use. In my tests .... http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/FourChiselSteelsCompared.html. .... PM-V11 were many, many time more durable than A2.

But chisels are not simply about edge holding. The comfort of the handles is very personal. My preference is the Blue Spruce, closely followed by Veritas, and the LN/Stanley 750 handles bringing up the rear. Your boat may float differently.

Here is some further information, taken from a review of the Veritas O1 chisels:  http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/FourChiselSteelsCompared.html

Regards from Perth

Derek

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 2607
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2019, 09:04 PM »
I have a set of LN and a set of Blue Spruce chisels.

Both are of extraordinary quality. I tend to always pick up the LN chisels. They seem to fit my hand better.

Either brand will serve you well. I bought the water stones LN sells. I also made the sharpening jig described on the LN web site and I bought the LN sharpening guide. After a lot of practice, I can create an incredibly sharp edge.

I know some really expert people advocate sharpening free hand. I am only a novice and the jig/guide/waterstones produce a truly sharp edge quickly every time. The LN jig allows setting the exact bevel angle every time.

I’m surprised the WorkSharp fried your chisels. I had one and never managed to burn a chisel. The machine does produce a sharp edge but tends to leave ugly swirl marks.

My dad did manage to fry my really nice pocket knife once using a high speed grinder. I  bit my lip and thanked him for sharpening my knife. I tossed it when I got home. I never told him.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 09:08 PM by Birdhunter »
Birdhunter

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 2607
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2019, 09:06 PM »
Derek is a super expert so listen to his advice.
Birdhunter

Offline mkasdin

  • Posts: 122
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2019, 01:38 AM »
Look at the Narex. They are made in Czech Republic. It’s a good bang for the buck. I would get them in a box? I’m not sure what set has the plastic protectors for the tile. I would buy that set to protect the blade edge. Narex also has a leather roll you can buy separately. The Veritas is very nice. But they are $$. So if you have lots of money buy the veritas if you’re a broke woodworker with a systainer collection, the Narex should be fine as a daily driver where you need to hog out a mortise. The. You can get a veritas or a japenese chisel to do the final pairing.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 2607
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2019, 05:20 AM »
Be careful of storing chisels in a leather roll long term. Rust is a possibility. Short term for transport is ok.

I bought the Narex and I was disappointed in their edge holding. I’ll probably gift them to a young friend who is entering woodworking.
Birdhunter

Offline derekcohen

  • Posts: 322
    • In The Woodshop
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2019, 08:02 AM »
BH, thanks for the kind words.

Your warning about leather is accurate. I have found the rolls from Lee Valley are safe and well made. I have used them for a some years. I think that these are vegetable dyed, which I believe is the safe option.

Regards from Perth

Derek

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 6286
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2019, 10:14 AM »
I purchased and use a set of Pfeil chisels. They're Swiss made and reasonably priced. For example a 6 piece set will run $230 while a 6 piece set of LN will run $350.

Woodcraft on Lyndale Ave has them in-stock so you can see how they feel.

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 352
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2019, 11:09 AM »
I agree that Derek’s assessment is spot on. For me personally I do not use my chisels so often or so hard that I am super particular about edge holding. My LN’s hold their edges just fine for my needs. I have micro bevels on all of mine and I am pretty diligent about touching them up as needed. What I do REALLY CARE ABOUT is the comfort of the handles in my hand. I like my LN’s (probably applies to any socket chisel) because they can accept short handles for chopping or long handles for paring. In the case of the LN’s I find both handles to be very comfortable for me. I am lucky that I am able to have collected two full sets over the years but I really like that for those on a budget you can just buy one or two long handles and you are set for paring as well.

Offline demographic

  • Posts: 501
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2019, 03:10 PM »
Lots of interesting stuff.

That's a great site you have there, lots of good information. Nice one.

Offline travisj

  • Posts: 363
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2019, 05:34 PM »
thank you for all of the advice.

I took the advice of @RKA and used my Tormek to remove a fair bit of material off of the 3/4" and then sharpened it traditionally with water stones.  I briefly pared some hard maple and it still held the edge for now.  I will keep an eye on it. 

As to a possible eventual upgrade/replacement, my understanding of @derekcohen is that the fit in the hand is as important if not more so than the steel in the blade.  As @Birdhunter stated, Derek's reputation definitely preceded him as I have come across his comments several times in various forums when researching vices and hand tools.

@Cheese my grandfather had a set of Pfeil chisels.  He passed several years ago and I know the chisels are still in his shop.  The items in his shop are mine should I want them, I just haven't been comfortable removing anything.

I think the best course of events should I get new chisels, would be to order a few different single chisels and take them for a test drive.  That would be a much better proposition than buying a full set and not liking them.

Thank you again for all of the input.

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 352
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2019, 07:49 PM »
@travisj - I almost suggested the one of each chisel approach earlier. If I was in your situation that is what I would do. I would buy them all in my favorite sizes so once I decide which way to go I have extras in my favorite sizes.

Also, we don’t know each other and I don’t know anything about you but your comment about not being comfortable taking the tools that are apparently yours to have from your grandfather resonated with me. I am 60 and I have lots of really nice tools. My wife always used to worry about what will happen to my tools and what she would need to do with them if I was gone from this world. I don’t think that she worries any more because now she knows what is important to me. I LOVE my tools and if I am gone all I really want is that they end up in the hands of someone who will love them too. Having that person be family and have that tool and the love of craft continue within my family would be the greatest thing that I would think could ever happen to my tools (much better than them sitting and collecting dust)! If and when you decide to take those tools just treat them with love and respect and think of your grand dad! He will be smiling!

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2019, 08:32 PM »
@travisj

I would suggest that you really consider collecting and using those tools left to you by your grandfather.  There is a lot of love and memories stored  in those handles.  And the experience of using them for the first time will be one memory that will stay with you forever.

Peter

Offline grbmds

  • Posts: 1906
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2019, 09:08 PM »
I won't give you any advice on chisels, but I would be surprised if the chisels got "cooked" on a Worksharp. It is a slow speed grinder and I have never been able to make a blade heat up significantly. I suppose it's possible he held them on the wheel for many minutes at a time, but it would have to be a very long time.
Randy

Offline travisj

  • Posts: 363
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2019, 09:43 PM »
I won't give you any advice on chisels, but I would be surprised if the chisels got "cooked" on a Worksharp. It is a slow speed grinder and I have never been able to make a blade heat up significantly. I suppose it's possible he held them on the wheel for many minutes at a time, but it would have to be a very long time.

He might not have.  As @derekcohen stated earlier, the steel quality may be lesser in those Sorby's.  I had another issue today with a block plane blade where the edge rolled almost immediately after working with some hard maple.  In hind sight, he may have sharpened them at too shallow of an angle (as he sharpened that block plane blade last at the same time).  The one chisel he sharpened did have the color change in the steel as if it were over heated. 


@travisj
I would suggest that you really consider collecting and using those tools left to you by your grandfather.  There is a lot of love and memories stored  in those handles.  And the experience of using them for the first time will be one memory that will stay with you forever.

I do have a few of his tools.  His Stanley 60 1/2 block plane and an old Stanley "Handyman" wooden level are both sitting on a shelf in my shop.  That plane has a lot of sentimental value (which is a long story).  I also have his Stanley 71 router plane (complete in its box) in one of my cabinets.  I won't use the block plane (I have enough of my own), but even though I have a router plane, using his is different.  It's not as refined as my Veritas, but it is more enjoyable.

@Alanbach I agree that tools collecting the wrong kind of dust are, in a sense, worthless.  I'm 43, but my wife asked me years ago what she should do if something were to happen to me.  I now have two daughters so my tools will go to them if they want them, otherwise I told her to donate them to a worthwhile charity or school.  She asked me once for a list, but I have held off because she would kill me if she knew what I spent on some of them.

And yes, I should just go up there and go through what is left (my uncle removed the items he wanted, mostly power tools).  I remember "playing" with some of his old saw vises and sawsets when I was little and it would be neat to see if they are still there and whatever else I may come across.  The chisels included.  It will just be a bit emotional dismantling his shop, but it is inevitable.  He also had a couple of thousand board feet of lumber that he had milled 30 years or so ago, still stacked and stickered in his shed, but no one can remember the species.  I am most curious about that.  I can think of a few special projects that I would like to make for my daughters with that.  Hopefully it hasn't all rotted or gone to the insects.

Again, I appreciate all of the input.  If/when I make it up there to go through things, if I come across anything interesting, or if I end up purchasing a brand(s) of chisels, I will update this post.

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 352
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2019, 10:20 PM »
Haha! I agree, no lists😊! My wife is very supportive of my tool addiction (otherwise known as woodworking). It is me that has no desire to see it all added up on a list ... I can’t even imagine!

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 6286
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2019, 10:26 PM »
I support Peter’s point of view. My father was a commercial HVAC installer. They were called “tin benders” at the time. He passed in 2012 and he left me a few tools of HIS trade. One of the items was an Estwing tinners hammer with multiple layers of tape and all sorts of wrapping. That’s the way the old timers did it at the time...use the item until it was toast and then wrap some cushioning around it and continue to use it. Once it was dead, bring it back from the abyss and continue to use it. They experienced a different life style and I can understand that. They just desired a better life for their sons & daughters.

 Now, when working on HVAC stuff I’ll always grab pop’s Estwing even though I have a new one on the tool rack. In the past I used the new Estwing all the time until my dad passed...now I just use his...it seems like the prudent thing to do.

Offline travisj

  • Posts: 363
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2019, 10:30 PM »
Had an interesting twist to this today.  I mentioned to my father that I wanted grandpa’s chisels and he replied with a quick “nope”.  I looked at him funny (mostly due to the concise and quick way he answered) and he started to laugh.  He said I would have to wait hopefully 20 years because he grabbed them for himself.  So now back to square one (which is fine).  Another unfortunate turn is I have a Lie-Nielsen order showing up tomorrow, now I wished I would have ordered a chisel to save on shipping and give it a shot.  Lee Valley has free shipping right now so a Veritas or two may end up in my cart...


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Offline travisj

  • Posts: 363
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2019, 10:33 PM »
I like my LN’s (probably applies to any socket chisel) because they can accept short handles for chopping or long handles for paring. In the case of the LN’s I find both handles to be very comfortable for me. I am lucky that I am able to have collected two full sets over the years but I really like that for those on a budget you can just buy one or two long handles and you are set for paring as well.


To clarify, you would have one set of chisels and then a separate set of the longer handles that you would add or remove to the chisel as needed?


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Offline GoingMyWay

  • Posts: 859
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2019, 10:37 PM »
I'm a bit late to this thread.  Have you looked into IBC chisels?  I bought 2 from Rob Cosman so I could cut dovetails.  He's got a couple of videos explaining why he thinks they're the best (he of course sells them so there is a slight conflict of interest).

They seem great to me, but I don't have much experience with chisels.  I've only ever used cheap chisels for just general woodworking.  This is the only really "high end" chisels I've ever owned.
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Offline RustE

  • Posts: 375
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2019, 10:56 PM »
I like my LN’s (probably applies to any socket chisel) because they can accept short handles for chopping or long handles for paring. In the case of the LN’s I find both
To clarify, you would have one set of chisels and then a separate set of the longer handles that you would add or remove to the chisel as needed?

Probably only need one or two paring handles though.

The design a light press fit between the socket on the chisel and the handle. The positive is you can change handles without damaging anything. The negative is that sometimes you have to re-seat the handle before use because of temperature / humidity changes.

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 352
Re: Chisel advice needed
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2019, 12:39 AM »
@travisj - So yes, the handles are interchangable so you could have one set of chisels with the short handles and then have a few long handles around for when you are doing paring. I would just start with one or two and buy more if you feel you need more. You really only need as many as you think you would use different sizes at one time on a given project. Initially I would just buy one extra so you can see how both handles feel to you. I would recommend waiting until you try your first LN in your chisel comparison and decide if that is the direction that you are going to go.

I do know that a lot of people get annoyed by the fact that socket chisel’s handles do get loose occasionally or even fall off from time to time. That did bother me for the first month I owned them and that was like 15 years ago😊. I just developed the habit of handling the chisel by the socket and the very first thing that I do when I grab one is pound it 2-3 times against my bench to reseat the handle. When you want to remove the handle to switch handles you just grab the chisel by the socket again and tap the end of the handle against the edge of your bench and it falls right off (into your other hand, hopefully).