Aldi’s four-chisel sets are out today
[lightbox link="http://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0051.jpg" thumb="http://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0051.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0051" frame="true" icon="image"]I was shocked four years ago when I first picked up and fettled a set of four bevel-edged chisels from the supermarket chain Aldi. So good were their Aldi- brand Workzone chisels that we equipped the school with a set and we’ve been using them ever since.
These ash-handled chisels are fully shaped and very comfortable in the hand. The handles hold up to the mallet and chisel hammers we use at the school and though they have steel ferrules top and bottom that I don’t like, they do work and work well. None of the thirty or so sets we’ve used has ever bent in mortise chopping or under heavy blows and not one of them has ever broken either. I can’t say that for some of the chisels with a ‘better’ reputation, but then many if not most of them are made in China too. When I first picked the Aldi chisel up those few years ago I was surprised how well balanced they felt in my hand and one thing I have not found to beat them pound for pound and dollar for dollar is the price. At £7.95, £2 per chisel, these are the best value chisel on the market. If you need a good working chisel, this could be exactly what you need. They are not particularly pretty chisels, they beat the socks of some of the higher-end and better known chisels for edge retention and hardness. Some British makers crumple or fracture in the first few minutes of use. These don’t.Even if you bought them as a second set, you’d more than likely pick them up over your first. I have used them for fine chisel work such as paring and cutting dovetails and tenons and then for chopping mortises and just about everything else needing chisel work in the woodshop.
Buy your set today
[lightbox link="http://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0052_1.jpg" thumb="http://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0052_1.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0052_1" frame="true" icon="image"]Today the Aldi chisels made their annual return to the supermarket shelves and they won’t last long when this blog is pulled up around Britain this morning. I bought several sets as presents and for my demonstrations at the school. Comparing the sets I have bought in the past with other makers, they are comparable for flatness, which generally means you will indeed need to flatten them if they are bellied. Most of the ones I have bought in the past have been slightly hollow and that’s the best way they could be. With a slight hollow you get straight to the cutting edge in seconds and as long as the flatness on the flat face is developed to around 3/4” from the cutting edge the chisel will perform perfectly.
Macro-camber not micro-bevel
[lightbox link="http://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0053.jpg" thumb="http://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0053.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0053" frame="true" icon="image"]This tradition continues and so it should. Look at any old chisels from the past and you’ll most likely see that the bevels were indeed cambered and not flat or hollow ground. That doesn’t mean they were not hollow ground periodically, just that once they were reground to correct flaws, they were then cambered in hollowed stones that remained hollowed and were never flattened. Arghh, is this some kind of heresy?!! Not at all. Grinding was done on stone wheels but these wheels were not the rinky-dink wheels with electric motors we know and love today, but any size up to two feet in diameter and often four inches wide passing through a bath of water for cool grinding. Sometimes they were water driven by power transfer from line shafts and others were hand cranked by a farmhand or apprentice. Subsequent to grinding they were further honed and sharpened on 2″ wide whetstones that were mostly natural stones. These stones hollowed and that is what gave them the ability to create their perfect and natural macro camber. The method was and is fast and effective. No more than a minute to sharpen a 1″ chisel. The system was cutting-edge technology of the day and we for certain should not discard what has proven the most effective method a craftsman at the bench could ever use for maintaining the edge on his competition.