I Read a Review
I did! It was a review on some chisels a person bought. The commenter said it took her or him four hours to flatten the back of a chisel on a diamond sharpening plate. I thought to myself, ‘Is that really true or even possible? Can fine-grained, chrome manganese steel hardened to 59HRC be so hard it takes four hours of constant abrading on something as aggressive as diamonds to flatten a single face say 1″ wide by 4″ long and if it is is it even a viable chisel?‘ I mean, wouldn’t it be too brittle to boot? Every overly hard chisel I have ever owned has been to fractious along the cutting edge and needed tempering which alters the steel to a practical level of hardness, toughness, strength and then too its structural stability. It made me conscious of how any review can be in danger of substantially exaggerating the reality; unfortunately it ultimately becomes misleading as was indeed the case in the two reviews I did read. I have or am learning that to edit your own comments or review can discredit you even though it can be a grossly inaccurate and unfair version based on perhaps the inexperience or abject inability of the person reviewing. It’s also unfortunate that when someone thrashes out a quick statement they will generally go unchallenged because, well, it can be anonymous, perhaps seem that you are being defensive or offended. But the reality is, some things you do can be worth defending and also reflect the reality that the comment or criticism is intended to be offensive for whatever reason. Unfortunately your protestations can fuel additional fury from elsewhere as people add weight to the cause or take over your comments section or your review allowance and tolerance. I often think that generally people will use the phrase, “Why are you being so defensive?” or, “Don’t be so defensive!” or “Why are you being so precious about this?” The truth is that some people are indeed just mean spirited, arrogant or worse still ignorant in its negative sense. What really counts is truth. A review should be based on reality and if a novice finds a struggle flattening a chisel it can make a difference when they say it took me four hours to flatten a chisel. I have yet to find a chisel, unless it is severely neglected and, AND, badly abused, that took me longer than 20 minutes to get respectably flat. Respectably? Yes, I meant respectably and that’s because in most cases chisel backs, the big face, do not at all need to be dead flat and certainly not within a thou’. Getting flat is just something to aim for but does not improve your woodworking quality or ability unless for a particular one-off task you might need such a thing. Remember that some people indeed have an obsessive compulsive disposition that’s often referred to as a disorder. It’s a condition. That’s not always what we are dealing with. Some people self declare themselves to be “perfectionist.” This too is often a bit self delusional and seldom much more than a bit of pride. Mostly it’s a way of saying that they are not like ordinary people. Sometimes people are told in magazine articles and videos that they MUST get the chisel or plane iron dead flat otherwise it will not do the job well at all or it may not even work. Codswallop to them! Absolute rubbish.
My advocacy for the wooden handled Aldi chisels came to an end last year when some twerp in the buying department shifted to buy in some of the ugliest, clunkiest plastic handled, steel capped versions in place of them. It sent me on a search and actually the other brother in the German supermarket chain, Lidl, stocks the same chisel but with an ash handle instead of the hornbeam Aldi bought in. I’ve used my Aldis every single day since 2010 and they have proved as perfect as any chisel can get. I have tried other types and they all work mostly but, well, the Aldi’s (and the Lidl’s) equal the best if the rest for me. That said, what’s the point in recommending something that is only available twice a year or not now available at all?
Last week at a woodworking presentation in London there were some vendors selling their wares so I picked up a few bits and pieces including two chisels I liked the appearance of. These chisels made for or by Axminster under their own Axminster brand of Rider brand I suppose to their specifications. The price is middle of the road and very fair for the quality and they did look nicely made chisels for around £16 for the 1″. I bought their 1″ and a 1 1/4″ bevel-edged full sized versions.
At the shop I bench tested them and fortunately I was working on a bookcase with 20 housing dadoes made from redwood pine. Pine is one of the best woods for testing chisels on because the growth rings divide into extra hard and extra soft side by side Most hard woods don’t have this and the wood is evenly dense across the whole. Softwoods like Redwood pine or vintage longleaf pine from the virgin forests of the USA are often extremely hard. I have had longleaf pine from old beams have growth rings 1mm apart. Not that is some hard wood. But mostly it is the closeness of the hard and soft growth periods that sets the challenge and the too the knots themselves. In my project I had several knotty areas ideal for the bench test. Whereas I did not beat on the chisels I did push them to their limit and they held up well. One of the chisels did edge fracture but that often happens with a new chisel. After a second sharpening the chisel held its edge as well as any other chisel including my Aldi’s and every high end chisel I own including Lie Nielsen, Veritas, Sorby, Ashley Iles and all the rest.
Over the next weeks I will extend the trial and update you. My only modification is that I put a shallower dome on the end of the handle. This improves the matching of the chisel hammer blow to the handle and makes every blow economically effective.
OK, I’ll say it here. You certainly do not need to spend £70 on a single chisel by one of the more bijou makers nor even as much as £40 by the more mediocre makers. Not unless you want to of course, which is fine by me. Most of us can’t do that because cost makes £70-90 a throw prohibitive at £420 on up for half a dozen chisels. My Aldis will do everything these chisels will do at £8 a set of four, Yup! £2 a piece that is. Looks are not everything so don’t think that owning the upper-class chisel types will particularly improve your game stroke. It’s skill and the development of it that does that and nothing more. I just hate to think that anyone might think these will make any difference to your woodworking or that indeed you need them beyond just liking their looks. For the cost of just oner of the so-called premium chisels you can buy the whole set from Axminster but as per Axminster’s usual they also sell these high end versions alongside their own brand so they’re onto a winner either way.
I popped the handle off to see what’s inside and the square tang is very substantial and driven into the hornbeam handle tightly encircled by an equally substantial stainless steel ferrule; it’s definitely there to stay and unlike the socketed versions that do often turn loose at the wrong minute.
Is the chisel worthy of my name stamp? I don’t always put my name on tools I own. Sometimes because they are too fancy for me to want to own and sometimes because the quality is questionable. These are indeed users not posers, but they look good too so, yes, I stamped my owner name on two of them so far. I will update you on the other sizes shortly but in case you want to go ahead and order your own, remember if they do turn up with an adverse problem you can and indeed should always return them for a full refund and the tools are warrantied for twelve months too.
I got some Lidl chisels last year and once sharpened (I use a veritable guide and abrasive on glass that I got from Woodworkers Workshop (scary sharp))
They have been excellent. I love nice tools like Veritas but these work for what I need. I was taught to buy the best tools you can afford, it’s nice when they are affordable and work like the Lidl chisels. I hate that B&Q sell a No4 size plane that is pretty useless until seriously fettled. Better buying 2nd hand. Thanks for another great article Paul.
I have some old chisels and plane irons that, when I go to flatten them, show abrasions everywhere on the back except for a corner running to about a third of their cutting edge. Even when I run just the front half inch of the chisel or iron along the plate, these untouched (or barely touched) corners remain. I’ve been flattening for well over twenty minutes on a handful of these using heavy duty 80 grit belt sander belts cut and flattened onto plate glass. I’m making slow progress. In two of the cases, I can visually see the deflection of the back in these areas. Is there anything I can do to speed this process. Would a dia-flat plate be quicker?
You may be over working. You just need the cutting edge and sides polished for a flat back. A hollow back is not a bad thing. A bulged back were only the middle is polished can be a problem as it can hold the edge above the wood.
I know exactly what you mean. That dreadful, light diffracting corners near the cutting edge. Some previous owners wanted a edge quick and took a short cut. I would factor in 1-2 hours for such chisels, just to dress the back. Unless they are very desirable chisels selling very cheaply, I generally avoid them.
Often there is a build up of particulate that exacerbates the issue as you continue working to get the most from your abrasive. Better to use sandpaper minimally and change out or switch to wet and dry and keep wet so that the particulate of abrasive and steel is floated away from the surface as you work.
Aldi locally released wooden handle chisels again this year a couple months before the newer versions. They weren’t ash or hornbeam, I’m pretty sure they’re beech handles. They flattened easily and seem nice, I’m not experienced enough to tell the quality of the steel, but I hope it’s still as good as the originals you use Paul.
I won a set of Narex chisels at a club raffle a couple of years ago and though the 1 1/4 and 1 inch were dished on the back enough to need to use the extra coarse diamond plate it still only took about 30 minutes or less each to flatten the backs and sharpen them. They take an extremely fine edge and retain it as well as my Lie Nielsen A2 steel chisels. After using them for about six months I liked them enough to buy a set of six for a grandson for Christmas.
A set of six in a presentation box currently runs about $85 on Amazon. Great present for some one or just treat yourself.
I just got a set of Narex chisels from Amazon. On a cursory inspection they appear to be ready to go out of the box after a wipe with a solvent to remove the coating.
The backs look pretty flat, and they feel quite sharp.
Mike Pentecost said that the Narex chisels he won were “dished” in the back and required flattening. Mine don’t exhibit that, but my understanding is that a concavity on the back isn’t a problem as long as all of the high spots lie on a plane, as the reason for flattening the back is to ensure that things like the walls of dovetails are square and straight, Japanese chisels have concave backs for this reason.
Maybe it was a gouge hahaha
Problem with lots of tools there are as many false reviews claiming rubbish is a good. Really help to have yourself and others as our trusted guide
Thanks for everything you do Paul
I also have been using my chisels from Aldi for several years. They are the hardest working and actually the best chisels that I own. My $45 – $50 a piece chisels that I used to use stay sharp because they sit in their rolls, unused.
I’m the same as you Mario, except mine are in the roll blunt! Love the ALDI ones so that’s all I bother sharpening now and they sharpen quicker and stay sharp longer than my Lie Nie’s. Not to mention safety. The last thing you want on a hot summer day is a chisel slipping out of its handle onto your bare feet in thongs. I know I should have steel caps on but the really hot days I don’t. And those are they days it will happen!
Please comment on Narex chisels
Paul, assume you already know this but the Aldi/lidl chisels can be had at all times on Ebay under the Powerfix brand, just type in powerfix chisels they are £15.49 so double what they are/were in the supermarket but still clearly good value! Cheers and all the best.
Do you find the leather washer aid in striking in any way? Maybe less reverberated shock? Better COP? Or just fluff?
I purchased my Aldi’s based on your recommendation back in 2015. I patiently waited close to a year for them to show up at my local Aldi. Snagged 2 sets of them. I compliment the first set with an old set of Bucks to take care of the Imperial. Thinking of reshaping the second set to address additional widths.
Good idea, lucky you got two sets! I bought two sets, gave the second set to my Dad so I guess it’s jist a matter of time befire they are mine again. 🙂
Reviews can be unduly harsh. I have seen chisel and plane reviews which say “ avoid- arrived blunt”
With that sort of review any supplier can find themselves with a poor rating. However, I can see the reviewer’s point. I we bought a hammer with a loose head we would take it back as unfit for purpose. I did note that Faithfully put sharpening instructions on their chisels which seems like a step in the right direction.
I did buy a set of Aldi chisels. They were very good. Like a muppet I sold them when I bought some Irwin Marples ones. They were fine until I sharpened them a few times. It seems the steel is only hardened at the tip. The rest is toffee.
I did have a Lidl’s one snap when cutting a mortise but that can happen with posh ones.
I went to town on an old Craftsman #7 joiner plane blade(30-40 yrs old) this morning( flattening the back) . It seemed super hard in comparison to many other irons i’ve sharpened. The blade had never been sharpened! I think it had a belly in it, took me a while to get there , maybe 10 min but then it went as usual, polish back, work on bevel, coarse, medium, fine, strop on the green buffing, surgical sharp..!
Thank you for teaching me the methods of sharpening by hand and countless other skills. I have been following your methods for about 3yrs and have made many of your projects from 25+ dovetail boxes, tables, multiple benches, cabinets, chests. My sharpening has developed over the last three years, as well as my sensitivity as to when to sharpen.
In closing i think defining, and removing the waste from the want is the most valuable lesson you have taught us, in tools, joints, and time.
” […] fortunately I was working on a bookcase with 20 housing dadoes”
Very glad to read this. I will need to start building a bookcase (rather: something covering much of a wall) in about half a year and was thinking I should be using sliding dovetails instead of housing dadoes, to keep the sides from giving way and bending outwards. But if housing dadoes are good enough for you then they’re good enough for me too. ‘Normal’ dovetails are still hard enough for me, let alone sliding ones (never tried those). Housing dadoes I’ve made plenty of, with good results.
Incidentally, do you have a video explaining how to make sliding dovetails? I have never found one of you.
I’ve never bothered with buying new chisels; used ones are plentifully available. I buy a local Dutch brand, ‘Nooitgedagt’ (lit., ΅who’d have thought it”. Yes, we have some peculiar family names). The company has been out of business for about a decade now, after 100+ years.. Most non-woodworkers think Nooitgedagt was the top brand, most woodworkers consider them mediocre/average. They’re good enough for me though, and plentiful available. I’ve never considered myself a tool snob. My father used that brand chisels (and planes) to build his house. If he was able to build his house with it then they must certainly be good enough for my hobby projects.
Incidentally, my favourite screwdrivers (apart from the Stanly Yankee 130B pump-action) are the Lidl ones (with grey and orange handles). Very cheap but pretty good and comfortable to handle. And they last, at least if you use the matching screwdriver for the screwhead (PZ1 for PZ1, PZ2 for PZ2, etc., same for PH1, PH2). Using the wrong screwdriver is a great way to damage both screws and driver.
As for opinions/reviews, a few years ago I was sitting in the garden reading a book. The neighbour boy was telling his mother that he’d soon be going on a vacation trip and that he left a positive review (i.e., review before going on the trip….) so he’d get a 20% discount. Overhearing that remark only confirmed for me what I had already thought about online reviews (or, in older days, reviews by magazine editors, totally unbiased by the fact that they were reviewing products of their advertisers). Reviews are very often bought. Whose money you take, whose language you speak, as the saying goes.
The value of a review depends entirely on the person who wrote it. Everyone has an opinion but not all opinions are of equal value. The opinions of people who have done their research and have experience (i.e. something to compare against) is much more valuable than that of someone who hasn’t. Your website and reviews are a breath of fresh air in that respect.
I just watched the shaker stool video that has sliding dovetails, neat project. Also, yeah for a bookcase I don’t see anything wrong with dados and screws.
Thanks for the reply, I’ll look into the video you mentioned.
Would the screws be really necessary, wouldn’t the glue be enough to hold the sides together? I don’t want to use screws for that bookcase. If dadoes also require screws then I’ll have to resort to sliding dovetails. Curious whether mr. Sellers is/was/will be using screws with his dadoes in his bookcase.
Dave Ring, yep, the ones with the translucent (or sometimes opaque) red handles, those are the ones. Actually, I have one Nooitgedagt chisel with wooden handle that I explicitly reserved for duty as paintcan opener… Heresy, I know, but it’s the best opener I’ve ever used. The chisel came covered in some black goo, I suspect tectyl, pitch or something similar. Was quite a bit of work to clean it, I remember.
My first woodworking chisel was a 3/4″ Nooitgedagt with a translucent red plastic handle that I bought from a surplus tool dealer over 40 years ago. I was working as a bus mechanic at the time and I used it for many years as a gasket scraper. I had the best gasket scraper in the shop. Years later as I got interested in woodworking, I sharpened it properly and still use it occasionally for its intended purpose and, despite years of abuse, it works very well as a wood chisel.
Um, …..I used to spend a day or more trying to sharpen a set of four chisels, I obviously didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. When I finally got them sharp I wouldn’t use them because it took me so long to get them in shape!
I certainly would never have given any reviews to show how ignorant I was!
Ironically the only chisels that gave me troubles was a set of Lie Neilsen , the tips would fracture until I got down to the “good” steel, now they are fine. At the time though I was certain it was my fault and I was upset for spending so much money for tools I couldn’t get to work.
Thanks for showing me how to sharpen tools by the way! Now I retouch them in seconds while a nick in a blade might take me a few minutes at most.
This whole sharpening thing reminds me of an elective course I took in college. It was “A History of Western Technology”. One of the things covered was a detailed old English manuscript on hardening steel by quenching in goat urine, I can just imagine the smell of that. It went into great detail on the type of goat you had to use, the construction of the pen to constrain the goat and facilitate collecting the urine, the exact menu to feed the goat and how long to wait before collecting the urine, etc. I have read several web pages on sharpening and the detail of the stones you must use, the precise angles you must achieve, the flatness of the back and the ridiculous level of fineness you have to go to sounds just like the ancient art of hardening steel to me.
When I was very young my Dad worked for the MK&T railroad in Texas as a telegrapher (that should date me) and when he worked nights he had a lot of idle time. He had a good Case knife. I don’t know the model but it only had 2 large blades, one with a sharp point and one with a rounded point. He carefully ‘sharpened’ the round ended blade on an oil stone to a constant taper from the rear of the blade to the edge. It was SHARP, but it was useless. If you cut anything more substantial than the hair on your arm the edge would fracture. My point is that just being sharp doesn’t mean much. An edge must be usable too. I think Paul’s edge with a camber is a better option.
I bought 3 sets of Aldi Chisels to have a spare set of rough workers and to make skews out of a couple. The first chisel I chose to sharpen is somewhat banana shaped and I noticed with a lot of overlap on the stone it cleaned up right at the edge and about 60mm back with no contact in between.
Next sharpening I had over lap of maybe 30-40mm and the stone wouldn’t remove the burr because of the slight back bevel.
I can’t argue that these chisels are not worth the $2 each that I paid but to endorse them for beginners who are unfamiliar or inexperienced with sharpening may be a bit much.
Society’s insistence on $2 chisels seems to benefit neither the end user or the makers of decent tools.
Ah, but, I have purchased and given away fifty sets over the years and never had an issue with them. I have had many a dozen students buy them and initialise them in classes with no problems whatsoever. I have also used 20 sets for nine year’s worth of students and they are still in excellent shape too. So for your isolated experience with a bad one I have seen roughly a hundred come out on top. I have seen premium chisels on the other hand snap quite readily under very little pressure and also bend far too easily. I have had corrugated cutting edges and so on from all British makers selling for 20 times the price of Aldi’s so it’s been a no brainer for me. So whereas were you right about a novice trying to initialise their chisels I might agree, these chisels from Aldi have indeed met the very highest of expectations for round a decade. I am just sorry they no longer sell them?.
Soy Florencio Mendoza de España, esta semana compré un juego de formones de Lidl, a través de su venta on line, 7,99 € mas 3,99 € en gastos de envío.
Mi experiencia en afilado de formones es practicamente nula, tan solo he afilado una vez dos formones Bellota España.
Cuando abrí el blister y cogí un formón, la sensación fue maravillosa comparandolo con los que tenia. Dos de los formones de Lidl venían descuadrados, así que los rectifique con una lijadora de plato de la marca Dremel con lija de grano 80, fue muy sencillo y no tarde mucho.
El afilado lo hice con papel de lija al agua, sobre un vidrio plano, con una guía de afilado Faithful. Siguiendo las enseñazas del señor Sellers. Este proceso fue aun mas rápido que el anterior. Soy un inexperto, pero estoy muy satisfecho con el resultado. Con la experiencia iré mejorando tanto en calidad como en rapidez.
Hoy he utilizado por primera vez el formón de 24 mm y corta de maravilla.
Muchas gracias señor Sellers, llevo apenas tres meses viendo sus vídeos y leyendo sus blogs, estoy aprendiendo muchísimo.
I am Florencio Mendoza from Spain, this week I bought a set of Lidl chisels, through its online sale, € 7.99 plus € 3.99 in shipping costs.
My experience in sharpening chisels is practically zero, I have only sharpened two Bellota chisels once.
When I opened the blister and took a chisel, the feeling was wonderful compared to what I had. Two of Lidl’s chisels came untidy, so I rectified them with a Dremel brand sanding machine with 80 grit sandpaper, it was very simple and didn’t take long.
I did the sharpening with sandpaper in water, on a flat glass, with a Faithful sharpening guide. Following the teachings of Mr. Sellers. This process was even faster than the previous one. I am inexperienced, but I am very satisfied with the result. With the experience I will improve both in quality and speed.
Today I have used the 24 mm chisel for the first time and it cuts wonderfully.
Thank you very much, Mr. Sellers. I have been watching your videos and reading your blogs for just three months. I am learning a lot.
Sorry for the Google translation. Jajaja!
I have used the Powerfix chisels ever since they were available at Lidl here in Belgium, long before I discovered Paul’s site and videos. They work just as well as any chisel I’ve had before (Dictum, Pfeil, Japanese, Stanley… all sold) and now have a permanent place on my bench. I have a set with beech handles and one that looks like ash. I use them on very soft woods like cedar or lime, on mahogany and on very dense woods like rosewood, ebony, cocobolo… (I am a guitar maker). If they would sell double the price they are now or more, I would still buy them. They’re good. Pro’s: NO brand, which is my favourite brand. Sharpen well. Take a beating. Great for paring. Cons: I only have two sets left.
I really think if people have the basics of sharpening and using their tools down, they become less fussy about them. My guitars don’t care if they’re made with £ 100+ chisels or £ 10 / set. I don’t.
You speak my language Jean Paul. Maybe it’s because my family is from Ghent (Gand)??? And is still there.
I am pretty sure that the Rider chisels are essentially the Narex 8116 chisels with better handles, ferrules that are up to the task and at a better price. The blades of both Narex and Rider chisels have the same shape and, as far as I know, Narex is the only manufacturer that uses chrome-manganese steel instead of chrome-vanadium.
I used to have a couple of Narex 8116 chisels and I liked the steel, but the handles and ferrules were a different story. Therefore I purchased four Rider chisels a few months ago (40mm bevel edge, 6,12,20mm butt chisels) and my opinion is the same as Paul’s. They were easy to initialise and they take and hold a keen edge. I also like very much the fact that the handles come with no finish and you may use whatever finish you like without having to scrape off the original one.
As for the Lidl chisels, I have a set that matches every bit of Paul’s praising review, but I have also purchased last year (the last time they have been offered by Lidl) two sets that were not worth the effort to try and make them usable. Both blades and handles (on all of the chisels) were in an awful shape and thus I returned them for a refund.
One of my first thoughts on seeing these pictures was that these Riders look just about exactly like my Narex chisels. And I’ll just add that the tang shape and size Paul shows on the Rider chisel is identical to the one I saw when I had to re-handle my 1″ Narex. I’d be really surprised if these are not being made in the Narex factory and re-branded. But kudos to Axminster for finding a solid manufacturer to outsource from.
Just a bit of further info on this subject. From the Axminster website: “All of our Axminster Rider Chisels are made in Czech Republic. ” (which, of course, is where Narex operates). I may have to pick up a couple of these for comparison. So far, just looking at them, it seems the leather washer and the ferrule are definite upgrades from the Narex 8116 with the brass ferrule (quite thin and occasionally cracks). Also, it appears that the handles are a little more slender on these Riders. For me that would also be an upgrade, but I can reshape handles.
In case it’s not clear, I love my Narexes. I think outside of the the (former) Aldi chisels (which have never been as good or as available in the US) and finding great deals on vintage, they have been the best chisel value on the market for several years now. I’m excited to see a well-established brand outsourcing from the Czechs.
I never really liked the Narex handles or the ferrules. They always felt too different to me. It’s what you get used to I know.
I agree that ferrules on the Narex, especially the “Premium” brass-plated ones, are lightweight, cheap, and shaped oddly. It’s unfortunate. The original hornbeam handles (8116 chisels) are nice, but a little more chunky and have a slight cove. Since I have a spokeshave and know how to use it (h.t. Paul Sellers) that wasn’t a big obstacle for me. I do really like the slenderness apparent in these new Riders. I also saw on Narex’s home site that they released (Oct 19) chisels under their own brand very similar to these from Axminster with stainless ferrules, leather washers, etc. Different handle shape, though, with a more pronounced cove, and ash handles. Very fine lands.
The handle is equally important to the tool steel used if not more so to me. In the set of six for Rider the handles are a little on the small side for me so disappointing. The best thing anyone could have done is look at some pre 1960s wooden Marples and earlier still Sorby’s and sized them for the men that used them day in day for two centuries then they would have had user friendly handles instead of some engineer coming up with what they ‘thought‘ we needed. Course for those of a smaller stature they will likely suit them.
Is this the Eric Potter from the NY class, by the way?
I spent about 4 hours flattening my first chisel. It was a heavy Stanley FatMax, it had quite pronounced belly, my coarsest stone was 320 grit at that time and I had a very vague idea of what I’m doing even after that Paul’s video. Was it frustrating? It was. So I totally believe somebody could spend that much time and can relate to that.
Aldi chisels were my fourth set, bought them after Paul’s advice. Spent about 15 mins per chisel, thanks to their gentle and elegant bent blades resembling a banana. Never had a problem, very sharp and dependable tools.
Would it not have been quicker to go back to the store and exchange it for a flat one you checked with one of their squares for straightness?
– “One of the chisels did edge fracture but that often happens with a new chisel.”
– Found on the NAREX site:
“Narex chisels are ground before being hardened, so you may find that edge retention improves significantly after the first couple of honings, this is completely normal and once the first couple of millimetres have been sharpened away you will begin to experience what a pleasure Cr-Mn steel is to use.”
£2 a chisel retail does rather make me wonder how much is paid to the people working in that chisel factory.
Probably the same and certainly not a lot more
Many tool products like chisels and saws require very minimal skill and input from workers. These chisels need minimal unskilled assembly work as do say brass backed gent’s saws and then too all hand saws. Half a dozen stamped out components assembled on an assembly line. Henry Ford saw to that and machine supervision replaced hand skill and dexterity We can read things into some things that are not there. Good point though.
I have recently purchased a 10 piece set of NAREX chisels 1/8-2 inches. It only took me a very few minutes to flatten the souls to where they will work nicely and a very few minutes to sharpen them. They took the sharpening quite nicely and I was able to shave white pine end grain easily. Longevity of keeping an edge will take some time. The only thing I don’t care for is the handles are a bit clunky in my hands, some time with a spoke shave and a saw to trim the end will fix that. For 150$ US and free shipping I think they’ll make me happy for a number of years.
I have a somewhat random collection of chisels, either bought on eBay or back in the 70s. About 6 months ago I bought the 1″ Rider chisel and to my ungifted hands it seems as good as the old Marples and Sorby chisels I own. I did read the 4 hour review and didn’t take it too seriously, but I have to say it has taken me quite a long time (more than 20 mins) to get a satisfactory bevel on some old chisels. I do that using a guide because I am not confident or competent enough to do it without. I don’t know if that makes it take longer or it is just that my grip is no longer quite as strong. Once the bevel is established I am happy to resharpen freehand.
I also suspect the Rider chisels are made by Narex.
My chisels. 3 rough sandviks from eBay, 1 Stanley Australia plastic handle vintage I was born with.
Some wonky, sharpened in my scattered way on India stone and stale apricot kernel oil from the fridge.. Made some saw file handles for Stubs from hardwood pallet and beveled edges with Stanley. Not really sharp enough but still was like a conjuring trick. Very cool
I am curious – many say they have purchased multiple sets, some say they are “down to” 2 sets. What are you all doing with all those sets? I have one set of 6 Marples chisels given to me by my wife for our first anniversary in 1971, and since then I have added a good 1/8″ and a good 2″ and found them adequate to build houses, boats, furniture, and guitars.
Oh, I think we like to try different tools to see if what was said is so. If you are like me I keep a set of 1970s plassy handled versions for rougher, garden carpentry and such because they might roll in the dirt somewhere a little. I keep them just as sharp and in good shape but feel better not using my good chisels. Also, when you have kids and grandkids it’s always good to have a set or two spare for them to use. If you pick up a chisel or a plane at a yard sale for a pound or two, who can resist? I even keep a hard-point saw for that reason too.
Great article, Paul. Thank you for the information. There is a lot of truth to what you say. I will admit to my shame, that I’ve had to spend an inordinate amount of time sharpening my chisels and plane irons, however I attribute that to two things. One, the amount of humidity and moisture in my garage in PA causes rapid rust build up. I’ve tried using a light coat of oil to stave off the orange beast, but i always wind up finding a few spots that were missed that wind up in critical areas. The second reason, is my own inexperience in trying to keep my tools adequately sharp. I must admit, that your videos have helped me overcome many mistakes and in the case of sharpening saws, overcome fears. However it is still a skillset that I endeavor to learn and get better at, one stroke on my diamond stones at a time…
It ssems to me that pretty much any chisel will cut well if sharpened well so it comes down to what feels or looks right to you. I have Kirschen chisels for letter carving which have never been near a stone, only ever stopped (Autosol and an old belt glued to a board). Some ‘Sheffield made’ ones from a boot fair and Rider mortice and bevels which were a price I could afford and feel lovely in the hand. The only one I had any problems with is a Henry Taylor 25mm registered mortice chisel, after 3 blows the leather washer split and fell off followed by the blade. The hole in the handle was way too big. I chucked in some slivers of wood them re inserted the blade after a few more blows the tand had driven another 20 mil up the handle and has been fine since.
My work takes me past the Axminster tool shop where I often drool over the tools. I was just looking at a Nielsen No 4 and No 7 plane, combined price £760. I actually own Faithful planes my 4 and 7 cost a combined £70. The castings were a little tough on the edges which I soon rubbed down but otherwise dead flat and square. I was intending to buy better blades but after a bit of hone and strop they cut so well I haven’t bothered yet.
Would I buy the Neilsen’s if I had the money? Sure I would, they look and feel beautiful, then again that £760 could buy a lot of wood.
I managed to get my hands on a set of Lidl chisels 18 months ago and am grateful for the tip as I wouldn’t have considered buying chisels from Lidl if Paul hadn’t recommended them. My turn to recommend something, so here’s a disclaimer: I don’t know Richard Kells and I’m not being paid to say this, but his honing guide is the best I’ve ever used. I tried the Veritas and liked a lot about it but found it a pain to set up for various sized chisels, and even more of a pain to clean and oil after every use. I then bought a Lie-neilsen only to discover that, even though I bought the adaptor, it can’t handle some of my vintage chisel blades. I came across Kells by accident and bought one of his honing guides second-hand. It came with large and small rollers, but I haven’t tried it with the larger rollers yet. Even so, it enables me to hone everything from a 3″ plane blade to a chisel so narrow I could darn a sock with it. I’d be very interested to hear other people’s opinion of this honing guide. Am I the only devotee?
No idea why but you just dissed two key makers and then other makers on my site.
Paul wrote: “No idea why but you just dissed two key makers and then other makers on my site.”
I’m sure you’d be the first to defend the independence of your own opinion. And, as you often say, you don’t take a penny from any of the manufacturers and suppliers whose kit you comment on, so you don’t owe them anything and wouldn’t need to suppress an adverse review. If that was this lady’s experience with these tools, then surely she’s justified in sharing it, here or anywhere?
For my part, I’ve used Richard Kell’s honing guide too. For a small-to-medium-size chisel I find it easy to use and it gives good results. But anything wider – say, a plane iron or a 1.5” chisel – and the outboard position of the wheels means you have to have your stone precisely co-planar with its surround, otherwise the angles go completely awry. Generally I use an old-fashioned Eclipse guide with the jaws fettled.
i have had arguments with purists who sit in their hallowed garages looking with love at the most expensive tools money can buy whilst never actually using them lol. i agree paul, tools are there to do a job and whilst it might be nice to have some bragging rights, money put into tools is money that doesn’t go to feed the family. to be honest i have always thought tool steel is tool steel and i have yet to see a blade from a fancy brand last any longer between sharpening than a cheaper model. i think the work you are doing is extremely important as the amount of misinformation available from “woodworkers” especially on you tube is rife. new comers need to hear from someone who has actually been properly trained and spent a life time earning a living from the craft they love. oh don’t get me started on the idiots in you tube lol.
I have used the MHG chisels for many years, they are made in Germany.
They come with two types of handles, and also two different steel options.
One can also choose between one or two side bevels.
Medium price is ca. 13 euros.
They are quite forgiving to sharpen, and hold the edge nicely.
Have ca. 30 of these, among them 4 short chisels and 3 gouges.
One of the handle options I find slightly thick, 5 minutes with the spokeshave and then fits nicely. Very happy with these.
In Norway, the chain Jula sells a set of chisels that looks an awful lot like the Aldi ones. Handles made from German Ash, HRC 60 Chrome Vanadium steel:
The price is NOK 229,- which translates to about £19.49 / $25 /€22.54 (although the NOK is rather weak at the moment).
8/12/18/24 mm width and lenght varies from 275 to 290 mm.
Easy to sharpen, holds the edge well. Sounds like Aldi to me. 🙂
Speaking of chisels and strops…I can’t recall if you should strop the flat side of the chisel…is that called a York pitch on a chisel or just on a plane blade?
Regarding the stamping of names on tools, I have wanted to do this for some time. I love seeing old wooden planes with the names of multiple craftsmen stamped. I receive numerous woodworking catalogs and some have the pricey custom electric wood burning irons, but I have yet to see something designed to be stamped as the photo above rather than burned in. Where are such devices sold? Thanks Paul for rekindling my interest in woodworking!
I totally agree with burned in stamps. They look just terrible. There are some beautiful name stamp makers producing the traditional looks in the USA but more up to date methods of engineering to make them. Here in the UK not much choice as to type aside from a pretty mundane one that I have. Keep searching.
Very pleased with this chisel set! Exactly what I was looking for, including the moderate price level.
No issues of flatness, they take a good edge fast and easy.
Used them on a console table (with 16 extra mortise and tenon joints vs the original design) and workbench so far.
Thanks for the hint Paul!
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