It’s the seemingly small and insignificant that often make the biggest differences in life and especially is this so in all and any craftworking. I wasn’t sure about the significance of this but thought you might find it interesting. Though I have used and tried just about every chisel type there is out there, and from the highest-end down to the lowest, these Record blue-chip chisels were one of my earliest sets from their first introduction which I believe was in the late 60’s early 70’s of the last century. I used them daily until 2009 and replaced them with my Aldi chisels (£8 for a set of four) on my return to live in the UK. I never had any issues with them but I did run my more vintage Marples, Wards and Sorby’s alongside them throughout the same period.

You can see that even though I did not use a grinder to grind the bevels and such throughout the 40-year period of use, I still reduced the length by over an inch. Had I ever ground the chisels with an electric grinder, they would not be here today and likely would have been gone a long time ago. I suppose I say this because I can take five or six dulled chisel of any type or make from my few hours working them and restore the edges to surgically sharp levels in just 3 minutes. Using something like say a mechanical system or just an electric grinder of some other kind takes several times as long and the edges are in no way any sharper or better.

My Aldi supermarket chain chisels have proven to be some of the best I have used. Good steel that takes a super-sharp edge and retains it together with hornbeam handles give me all that I want. Cost? £8 for four in a set.

Someone commented recently on how their purchase of a particular grinder was something he wished he’d done years before. He went on to describe it as a “brilliant” step, and something “certainly worth the investment.” I realised that this was a long-term woodworker who never discovered the speed, accuracy, versatility and freedoms of using non-mechanical methods to get the edges he wanted; and there could be good reason for that, hence his comment. But I did ask myself, ‘how could this be?’ Well, we all have different needs. I don’t want to eschew the reality that some of us do need such equipment for different, justifiable reasons. We do. As an instance, when I had over a hundred edge tools to sharpen before a new class I did use mechanical methods. This was to start out with sharp tools only. After that, all of the students, over 6,500 of them over a 20- year period, all sharpened by hand methods only and all but the odd one or two of them achieved sharp edge consistently and successful. Whereas I do understand the frustration some people feel in starting out and not quite getting that pristine edge straight off, I have found that many if not most do not persevere to achieve what they hope for. I encourage everyone to keep striving for the freedom freehand sharpening brings and to never give up. And here is a video to help see what I mean. Five chisels to surgically sharp in under three minutes.

58 Comments

  1. Samuel on 18 February 2021 at 11:01 am

    Two things I did wrong. Maybe 4 or more in reality..
    1.) Didn’t start on a coarse enough stone and result is going any higher doesn’t polish anything.
    Solution…Lapping plates are fast so reveal if you’re on the right path quicker, and make the process methodical.
    2.) Surface I rested stones on was not at optimum height for consistent freehand sharpening.
    Solution…So far I just kneel on workmate cross bar so the v arm method works (I do sharpen an edge abit more so have to correct)

    3 and 4 might be learning issues,, etc etc etc

  2. Tom on 18 February 2021 at 12:15 pm

    I used to spend a day sharpening my first set of four chisels, I kid you not.
    Then when I got them sharp I didn’t want to use them because it took me so long to get them that way. I tried abrasive paper, water stones, and a very expensive mechanical water stone. When I went to the diamond plates using Paul’s method I started to have much better success and became much faster. Not three minutes but maybe 10. I do it freehand most of the time, even my router cutters with the tiny surface area I do by hand but I still struggle with 1/16 chisels getting them square. The other issue I have is removing the wire burr that’s left, I’m beginning to suspect that I’m using to much pressure and the type of steel on some of my chisels makes it hard to remove that last bit.
    I have become intolerant of dull cutting edges, I continuously sharpen my kitchen knives and I found I have to warn people that the knives are sharp when we have family gatherings. They don’t believe how they cut and I have had relatives gather to watch as I carve Turkey and ham, they marvel at how easily the knives cut.
    Now I have started to turn on the lathe, gouges and skews have presented some challenges. The very nature of turning requires a sharp tool and you really want to do the task quickly and efficiently. I’m still working on that …..

    • Rick M on 18 February 2021 at 3:48 pm

      My sister used to look forward to my visits since she brought out all of her kitchen knives for me to sharpen. I had my own kitchen knives kept in good sharp condition and kept them away from my wife since she did not know how to use and care for sharp knives properly; throwing them in the sink to wash with the other dishes – pots & pans, then throwing then into the drawer with the other knives and utensils rather then storing them in a sheath or in a special location where the edge would not be in contact with other things. She would grumble and complain that I never sharpen her knives but I just said when I see you start to care for them properly then I will put a keen edge on them – until then you just have to live with dull knives; of course she would just buy another sharp knife and treat it the same way as the others – you win some – you loose some – best to just let go and let God.

      • jim on 19 February 2021 at 7:31 am

        That’s funny, my wife complains that they are too sharp.

        • Bill Sumner on 22 February 2021 at 9:03 pm

          You’ve sharpened the knives again! I just cut myself!!!

      • Mandy on 22 February 2021 at 6:37 pm

        Maybe you should do the washing up and putting away 😉

        • Caio T. Rosa on 24 February 2021 at 10:17 am

          This! 😅

  3. Steve on 18 February 2021 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Paul. Firstly many thanks for your teaching over the years – I’ve learned a lot from you and now (at least before Covid) teach hand tool woodworking in a Manshed in Surrey, as well as doing a bit of carving. Amazing how the combination of task and companionship helps elevate the mood of those involved, that have often been through bereavement or other challenges.

    I’ve found hand-sharpening to be a matter of practice; obviously also using the correct techniques and materials. Diamond plates make light of getting to a reasonable edge to start refining, and are now competitively priced if you look around.

    Interesting that you liked the old-style Record chisels, they are one of Frank Klausz’s favourites as well! I’ve managed to pick up and restore some Records to supplement the one 3/4inch I already have and agree the steel seems very good, as with the Aldi/Lidl chisels. Latest indulgence was a Stanley 80 scraper at Christmas, swapped for a Record 4 1/2 plus a bit of cash. Virtually unused and still to use it, but your advice on techniques for correct honing were invaluable. Keep up the good work…woodworking for all!

    • Paul Sellers on 18 February 2021 at 2:15 pm

      What a remarkable organisation Men’s Shed’s Association really is. I am so glad it is surviving the pandemic period and I encourage this charitable work hands down.

    • Vinicius Antunes on 23 February 2021 at 2:33 pm

      Unfortunately I have a very hard time finding diamonds plates here in Brazil… there are some Chinese ones with hexagonal patterns that are available but I haven’t tried. I have been struggling with sharpening using the stones that came with the set of Draper chisels I bought a while ago… but guess I have to keep trying!

      • Paulo on 24 February 2021 at 5:14 am

        Give them a go Vinicius!
        I, Brazilian living in New Zealand, could only find too options of diamond plates after extensive research: super expensive “official” e-z-lap …and unbranded, hexagonal-patterned Chinese ones.
        The latest not particularly cheap, but within acceptable cost, if compared with using sandpaper (as Paul advises, sandpaper is the most accessible method, but more expensive in the long run)

        Having the diamonds plates enabled me to START on my journey of efficient hand honing (I’m at ‘effective, but slow’ level), and the only downside so far is that the plates “want to” get rusted – I need to dry them throughly after use unless they start dotting with starts o rust spots (diamond powder bonded to cheap steel?!)

        Boa sorte 🙂

      • Caio T. Rosa on 24 February 2021 at 11:07 am

        As placas chinesas podem ser melhores ou piores, a diferença no preco quase sempre condiz com a qualidade. Existem algumas absolutamente aceitaveis, que fazem tranquilamente o servico. Algumas coisas que eu aprendi: 1-A pedra mais importante é a mais grossa. Tente encontrar uma de melhor qualidade um pouco num grao mais grosso, mesmo que seja generica chinesa. As demais nao é tao importante que sejam de otima qualidade. 2- Nao fique tão encanado com o quão plana a superficie da placa realmente é. Isso é mais critico apenas pro preparo inicial da parte de tras das laminas, e pra retirada da rebarba ao final… Usando pouca força, movimentos circulares leves e em seções diferentes da placa voce vai conseguir um resultado bom. Estraguei mais que alguns formoes preparando as costas porque jogava todo o peso do corpo em cima pra ir mais rapido e deixar “super plano perfeito”. Não é assim que funciona. O que me leva ao 3: Use pouca força! Forcando a lamina nas pedras, independente da qualidade delas, é muito mais dificil manter as bordas no esquadro, voce vai notar que sempre fica com um lado da lamina mais gasto, com um bevel de angulo maior e o outro com o bevel mais longo, e correspondentemente fora dos 90 graus em relacao a borda lateral. Quando vc ve isso, o que vc faz? Força com tudo pro lado mais comprido. E isso nao resolve nada. Pressao leve, sentir o feedback da lamina na pedra e quando vc menos perceber, voce nem vai estar pensando mais e as laminas estarao do jeito que voce quer.
        4 O jig de afiação comum ajuda a criar um bevel consistente no inicio. Use ele conforme precisar. Uma coisa que pode ajudar é usar ele na pedra mais grossa, e afiar nas mais finas à mao. Isso te permite notar como seus movimentos influenciam na geometria do chanfro, voce vai ver que fica torto pra um lado, pro outro, em relacao à marca do que vc fez com o jig, e vai ajustando a partir dai. E aprendendo. Os formoes nao precisam estar 100% perfeitos toda vez que afiar, principalmente quando vc esta comecando a afiar. Mas voce precisa afiar sempre. Um formão que vc afiou mas nao ficou perfeito é muito melhor do que um que voce nao afiou. Muito.
        5- strop e pasta de polimento jacaré verde. É a maquiagem do processo. Fazer isso “nivela” os defeitos das etapas anteriores, melhorando um tanto se vc ja sabe afiar bem, melhora MUITO a qualidade de uma afiação não tão boa ainda. Não é uma solucao magica, mas faz muita diferença. E o formao fica brilhante 😆

        Nao tenha medo de afiar. Nao adie uma afiacao necessaria. E nao desista!

        Editors comment:
        I went ahead and got the translation into English and thank you for going to this trouble, Caio!
        Chinese plates can be better or worse, the difference in price almost always matches the quality. There are some absolutely acceptable ones that do the job smoothly. Some things I learned: 1-The most important stone is the thickest. Try to find a better quality a little bit in a thicker grain, even if it is Chinese generic. The others are not so important that they are of excellent quality. 2- Don’t get so caught up in how flat the surface of the board really is. This is more critical just for the initial preparation of the back of the blades, and for removing the burr at the end … Using little force, light circular movements and in different sections of the plate you will achieve a good result. I spoiled more than a few trainings preparing my back because I threw all my body weight on top to go faster and make “super perfect plan”. It is not how it works. Which brings me to 3: Use little strength! Forcing the blade on the stones, regardless of their quality, it is much more difficult to keep the edges in the square, you will notice that you always have one side of the blade more worn, with a higher angle bevel and the other with the longer bevel, and correspondingly outside 90 degrees in relation to the lateral edge. When you see this, what do you do? Strength with everything to the longest side. And that doesn’t solve anything. Light pressure, feel the blade feedback on the stone and when you least notice it, you won’t even be thinking anymore and the slides will be the way you want.
        4 The common sharpening jig helps to create a consistent bevel at the start. Use it as needed. One thing that can help is to use it on the thickest stone, and sharpen it on the finest by hand. This allows you to notice how your movements influence the chamfer geometry, you will see that it is bent to one side, to the other, in relation to the mark of what you did with the jig, and will adjust from there. And learning. The formations do not need to be 100% perfect every time you sharpen, especially when you are starting to sharpen. But you always need to sharpen. A chisel that you sharpened but not perfect is much better than one that you have not sharpened. Much.
        5- green alligator polishing paste and strop. It is the makeup of the process. Doing this “leveling” the defects of the previous steps, improving a bit if you already know how to sharpen well, greatly improves the quality of a sharpening not so good yet. It is not a magic solution, but it makes a lot of difference. And the formation is brilliant 😆

        Don’t be afraid to sharpen. Do not postpone a necessary sharpening. And don’t give up!

  4. Frank McInroy on 18 February 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Paul , as a retired engineer I would like to add a comment about the use of a grinder. It is the only way to sharpen metal cutting HSS lathe tools . However it is also a way to identify how good the quality of the steel is . The colour and shape of the sparks will determine what grade of steel you have.
    A quick touch on the wheel will let you know if your chisel or plane blade is worth keeping.
    It was one of the first lessons I had to learn as an apprentice over sixty plus years ago, back then most of the steel came in black bar form so it was essential to identify it before making your lathe tools or any other cutting tools you needed.
    Keep up the good work, even us old hands are in awe of your work

    • Paul Sellers on 18 February 2021 at 2:10 pm

      Yes, I am often asked if my sharpening methods will work on turning tools and although they will, it is a completely different animal in that they are mostly made from HSS and that makes it pretty prohibitive because electric lathes have sped up the turning process so much the tool is exposed to more cuts per second then in days of old. High-speed steel replaced the carbon steels once used and forged by the smith and the vintage grinding wheels would not cope with the higher demand of the high-speed steel versions used today.

    • Mark Lewis on 22 February 2021 at 11:04 am

      I made a classic sharpening mistake when I started turning. Intent on grinding a very nice HSS Robert Sorby bowl gouge to what I thought was the correct profile, I didn’t notice until it was too late that I’d ground away about a third of the entire length! The stunted gouge sits on the rack looking at me reproachfully, still not ground to the right angle. Nowadays I try to take the turning tools to the grinder only when necessary. They seem to respond well to being touched up betweentimes with a diamond paddle and polished on a cloth wheel with some honing paste. With a bit of luck they too will only be an inch shorter after 40 years.

      • Paulo on 24 February 2021 at 5:19 am

        “… sits on the rack looking at me reproachfully” 😆
        Sounds like the relationship I have with my temperamental (if anthropomorphised) tools.
        Cracked me up 🙂

  5. KeithW on 18 February 2021 at 1:34 pm

    The one issue I have is honing small 1/8th and less chisels square. I guess that I am going to have to admit defeat and use a guide. I also use blue handle chisels as well as several antique ones and an Aldi set.
    I have an antique repaired draw knife. Both tangs were broken off when I found it in my youth. Welded some threaded rod as replacements. It is made from really hard steel, takes some time to hone it to sharpness. However, I love that I rescued it, and it has been with me most of my life.

  6. Stephen on 18 February 2021 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks, Paul! Were all the chisels in the Marples set originally the same length? If so, the photo demonstrates which widths you have used most frequently over the years!

    • Paul Sellers on 18 February 2021 at 2:06 pm

      They were and that is true too.

  7. Steve on 18 February 2021 at 1:55 pm

    ps sorry, my mix-up, for Record read Marples chisles of course…ooops!

  8. Steve on 18 February 2021 at 1:56 pm

    …or even ‘chisels’

  9. Martin Butirich on 18 February 2021 at 2:25 pm

    I think the real exception to use a grinding wheel is when the end is beyond hand sharpening. I’ve tried all manner of hand sharpening and always seem to go back to my combination Japanese water stone. (Keep in mind there are different grades of water stones)

  10. Andrew on 18 February 2021 at 2:33 pm

    I use diamond plates to sharpen plane irons and chisels, followed by leather stropping using two grades of polishing wax. This gives great satisfaction.

    Recently I swapped the wheels on the bench grinder, replacing corundum grinding wheels with aluminium oxide ones. I found that the new wheels cut well, with far less tendency to draw the temper by burning the edge. I think they have less friction in contact with steel.

    There is one tool which I thought could not be sharpened on the grinder. That is the common countersink bit with six edges. I was wrong. Presenting it to the wheel with care, it is perfectly possible to sharpen one edge at a time, without damaging the rest of the bit. So if anyone buys a new countersink bit when the old one becomes blunt, there is an alternative. Sharpen it yourself.

    • nemo on 18 February 2021 at 5:44 pm

      Could it be because the new wheel is still sharp, while the old one was dull? Grinding wheels become dull in use too. That’s where the dresser comes in, to dress the wheels. Removing the dull grains of corundum or aluminium-oxide and trueing the wheel again.The difference between a sharp and dull grinding wheel is amazing. With a sharp wheel you can grind very long without overheating the steel. No need to quench. So if you find you have to quench every few seconds, it might very well be because the wheel is dull.

      My grinding wheels are reserved for the metal lathe tools (mostly HSS and tungsten-carbide), and sharpening HSS drill bits freehand. My woodworking tools never get to touch the grinding wheel, everything’s done with a double-sided oil-stone that’s older than I am. Amazing how quickly sharpening goes once you get the knack, compared to using jigs and sandpaper.

      I have sharpened the Stanley 5 or 6-fluted countersink drill (that sits permanently in an eggbeater hand drill) by hand using a file. The countersink drill was so dull as to be useless. Just before throwing it away I decided to give sharpening a go, as I had nothing to lose at that point. After a few minutes with a file it was as good as new again.

  11. Stephen on 18 February 2021 at 2:42 pm

    Well thank you Paul for your teaching’s, time for sharpening my No4 plane down from15 minutes to Less than 5 with setting. Chisel times better, also get a fine shaving from both and getting better at thinking, time to sharpen, when it gets harder to plane the wood. Good old George/Paul. practice, practice makes perfect sense. Diamond plates at the ready, file also ready for the saw(s) reaching for the hand sharpend saw more and more. Thanks paul.

  12. Steve P on 18 February 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Hey I have those same chisels I bought as a set in about 1990. Although then I got more into power tools thanks to the magazines so the chisels have sat unused and unsharpened until a couple of years ago. When I bought them I actually didn’t know you had to sharpen them. Nobody at home depot told me. Oh well, they were preserved perfectly for when I started hand tool working when i found your videos! I only have trouble sharpening the smallest one 1/4”

  13. Rodney Cross on 18 February 2021 at 4:31 pm

    Great post! I live in the US, but have no local woodworking shops closer than 100 miles…lol! Thus shop on the internet, or if lucky, find an estate sale with vintage or antique tools! Anyway, when I contacted Aldi’s to determine the future availability of their chisels there was absolutely no help!!! My weekly viewing of their sales produced no chisels over the past 2 years, so no more shopping at this company!

    • ajens on 18 February 2021 at 4:52 pm

      No, Aldi doesn’t keep them permanently in stock, they appear once in a while. If you’re lucky to see them don’t think twice, just buy!

      • Mark Lewis on 22 February 2021 at 11:11 am

        Woodworking forums online are a good way of getting tipped off when the Aldi chisels are in stock. That’s how I got mine and a set for my dad. They do seem to vary a bit in quality, I’ve found. Not the steel, which I’m sure remains the same, but the handles and general presentation. My set have ash handles, not hornbeam (as far as I can tell). Not a problem in itself, but they arrived liberally smothered in woodfiller. My dad’s set have better-made handles, but the blades are set at slightly eccentric angles in a couple of them. Maybe I just got inferior examples – by the time I got to Aldi, despite the tip off, there were only a few in the basket.

    • Richard King on 22 February 2021 at 12:19 pm

      I bought an totally identical set of chisels from Lidl. Surprisingly good quality.

  14. Bruce on 18 February 2021 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Paul. This is also a great illustration of what chisels you use most. My 25 mm looks the same as yours when compared to it’s less-used companions. Also the wisdom of buying good individual chisels rather than a complete set of a lower overall quality.
    I have a set of four Titans that I have had for 50 years. I have worn more off them in 10 years of retirement than the previous 40 years working life (not in a trade).
    While I agree on your point about grinders wearing tools I found it hard to restore old tools purely by hand. I fettled an old Stanley No 4 for a friend at my Men’s Shed last week and the iron was ground at about 50 degrees (no wonder it didn’t cut. It would have been a big task to develop a new 30 degree bevel by hand. It took a few minutes on a grinder.

    • Paul Sellers on 18 February 2021 at 10:22 pm

      We’re not talking apples for apples here, Bruce. It goes without saying that we need to use a grinder for severely neglected and abused tools, but once they are reground mechanically we need never return to the practice except if the chisel edge or plane iron becomes damaged by a nail or a drop on concrete.

  15. Peter Fitzpatrick on 18 February 2021 at 9:33 pm

    When I was quite new to woodworking, I was very frustrated at not being able to get a good, repeatable edge with a grinder and oilstones, no matter how hard I tried. I bought myself a (pricy) Tormek wet grinder, with its built-in jigs, and it really changed my woodworking experience: working with properly sharp tools was a pure pleasure.

    However, over time, I moved over to diamond plates and practiced my hand-sharpening enough to make it useful. It’s faster and gives me a better edge than the Tormek, which I now mainly use for its leather strop wheels. I do still use sharpening guides quite a bit, especially when reestablishing a very dull edge, but even so it’s so much more convenient than loading up the Tormek jig, filling its reservoir, and so on.

    • Paul Sellers on 18 February 2021 at 10:27 pm

      The important thing for people to see is that the Tormek is in no way a stepping stone if you really are intent on mastering hand sharpening techniques. This only puts off what you must ultimately master and the speed with which you go from dull to sharp is a fraction of using such equipment. Remember too that this piece of kit is not small and unobtrusive. My hope is that everyone will take a few hours to master the skill of sharpening by hand over a week or two. Once you have it you will wonder how you lived without it.

  16. John on 19 February 2021 at 2:32 am

    I have a grinder, but these days only use if I find an old chisel that looks like pitting on the bevel will take a long time to remove by hand. If I really feel one of my daily use chisels needs serious work on the bevel I get out a piece of coarse sand paper, dampen a flat stone surface I have and use the sand paper to quickly develop the bevel I want. Then I use diamond steels to clean it up. Depending on my results – I might get out the water stones for a supper fine edge, or just use the strop. I’m happy if I can pick a specific hair on my forearm and brush it off with edge (no bald patches).

  17. Simon on 19 February 2021 at 9:25 am

    It’s a shame the Aldi chisels have not been available for a few years now. I wonder Paul, have you ever tested the Amazon Basic chisels? They come with either wooden or plastic/rubber handles and the reviews seem decent. It says they are made of Cr-V steel, which I have never heard of before. They could be an excellent test subject for your blog, since they are probably available world wide.

    Cheers, Simon

    • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2021 at 10:20 am

      Cr-V equals a commonly used chrome vanadium steel been in use for a century. I probably would not recommend them because they cannot be bought as a functional set as they miss out and don’t offer the other more useful and commonly used sizes of 1″, 3/8″ and 1/4″. The plastic “ergonomic” handle is always a silly description anyway. Our hands are designed to take and conform to just about any shape. They should stick to these descriptions for cell phones and such.

      • Paulo on 24 February 2021 at 5:26 am

        I’ve once seen a tools catalog, probably from the 50’s (40’s?) or thereabouts. In there there was a promotion of an ‘ergonomic’ pistol grip screwdriver …I am sure I miss the context around the (now likely defunct) task for what this was created for but …if one wants to turn any more than 90 degrees without changing the grip, I feel a pistol grip is probably the least ‘ergonomic’ a handle could be 😋

        Such words are very circumstantial, I guess.

  18. HL on 20 February 2021 at 9:35 am

    Why a grinder would be slower than manual sharpening? A day before yesterday I sharpened 8 chisels in 25 minutes (timed it) on a grinder and two oilstones, that includes pulling a grinder from under a bench and cleaning up afterwards. I believe this brings it to 3 mins per chisel.

    Regarding Aldi chisels: Paul, you might have been lucky to catch a good batch. Many of my friends were looking for these chisels and finally bought once Aldi stocked them, I grabbed two sets myself. It was a couple of years after you have recommended them on your blog and everyone I know was disappointed. Today’s Aldi chisels are junk, they’re too soft (an edge rolls over in poplar at 35 degrees), they’re warped, grinding is not level and landings are so big they’re really firmer chisels rather then bevel edged. The Common Woodworking doesn’t recommend them anymore if I remember it correctly and that’s a good thing. There are many other affordable brands that provide good quality tools for not too much more money.

  19. JulioT on 20 February 2021 at 3:33 pm

    I have a good number of chisels, since I received a set of six as a present. I also have a set of chisels made by Urko, a spanish brand that still makes decent chisels with good steel and beech handles. I also have a “collection” of old english chisels made by Marples, Footprint and makers like those, all of them found and bought in flea markets by around 1,5 euro each. Once restored, they have ended being the best chisels I have, there’ no doubt about it.

  20. Marc-André P. on 20 February 2021 at 8:57 pm

    I just wonder what you think about modern steel? I’ve come across two devil wich is called A2 and PMv11. They took so much time sharpening them and they are so thick that sharpening by hand was a no go for me. I’ve no problem with old iron and chisel with O1 steel..
    But those so called improved steel are a real pain…

  21. Richard Thompson on 21 February 2021 at 1:10 am

    Hi Paul I don’t have ready access to a lot of my tools so in the interim I bought some cheap Chinese chisels. some sizes I had to modify my self like 5/16- 8 mm and a 1/8 3 mm I had no great expectations for steel quality but they are more than adequate and hold a decent edge.I also required A left and right skew chisel so I bought an even cheaper set from China again .These again have good steel but are so rudemently finished it borders on discussing.I am really annoyed about the finish but know that there is enough meat on them to be perfectly beveled and shaped.I can’t justify spending 1 – 2 hours on finishing these chisels to how they could be.In reality a quick clean up and polish is all that is needed.I have only concentrated on them being paralell and flat.Hey this is the only pre requiset for good cutting oh and taking off some burrs left from the minimal machining these chisels received.I can’t and won’t fall into the trap of needing to restore or modify to show room condition any tool. As always my tools are goers not showers. No beauty queens here.
    Cheers
    Richie.

  22. Richard Thompson on 21 February 2021 at 3:07 am

    Yeah Paul I re read the comments regarding Aldi chisels they look very similar to the Chinese chisels I bought. Possabably these folk are unfamiliar with chisel sharpening . Did these folk grind these chisels blue and not quench them? I did initially grind mine and unless I start chopping nails they will never require grinding again.I also
    do have two sets one for soft pines and one with a lesser angle for hard woods.(not 100% necessary )They could be right but all the chisels I bought whilst not finished off and highly polished were sufficiently heat treated and did sharpen well and keep a suficient edge for my work requirements .May be not quite as good as my Sorby ,Marples and Berg’s but not far off either.I quite often do projects and don’t necessarily have the optimum kit of tools available. One needs to open one’s mind a bit.I am a master of improvision and can still accomplish good results even extra dillegence may be required due to lack of tools on hand.I am so glad you are able to debunk all the old wives tails and mystery regarding what we do.Some poor folk are being misled by just plane lies and miss information.Clearing the air give lots of folk a leg up into getting the most fun and enjoyment there is to be had from wood working.Good on ya Paul
    Richie
    Keep on chipping on

    • Wojciech on 22 February 2021 at 4:52 pm

      Ahh… The sharpening. Very few love the process, but everyone loves the sharp edge. It can be very rewarding or very frustrating. My biggest mistake was applying too much pressure, especially on narrower chisels. Getting the right hand movement takes practice and it’s easier to make mistakes when you press too hard and try to do it under 1 minute. Sorry Paul, but by showing us your speed you can really mess up our sharpening. The problem is that we try to get to your level in just few weeks forgetting that these things require time. Only then they can be truly rewarding.

  23. John Cadd on 22 February 2021 at 1:31 pm

    When I bought some old Sheffield chisels there were several with damaged wooden handles . Some were just split slightly but many handles were just far too thick . I evolved a shape and length of handle to suit me. Mainly the end had to fit smoothly in the palm with a groove in the side to match my thumb and middle finger second joint. None of the standard shapes are as comfortable or safe. The side groove keeps the tool in hand with a very light grip . Most factory tools could slip out of my hand . The worst ones reminded me of Triumph motorbike handlebar grips . Even venerable Boxwood handles are too smooth and bulbous . I feel ashamed to disrespect those Boxwood handles but , as I see it , they are just wrong .

    • vintage chisels on 23 February 2021 at 10:29 am

      Hi, I recently bought unused chisels from Czechoslovakia that were made before the war. Of course, they are signed. When I cut them by hand, I couldn’t believe they were cutting oak, beech or hornbeam like butter and easily. And they grind incredibly easily. And they hold the edge perfectly! They are cheap and high quality. I don’t know how it’s possible that they have been left unused for more than 80 years, but they have succeeded. And there are still some. Marek, Slovakia

  24. Jeff S. on 22 February 2021 at 5:36 pm

    I have always sharpened using stones. First Arkansas stones, later water.

    I have vascilated back and forth. I tried a bench grinder and slow grinder but found I could not control the cutting as well. It never takes too long to put an edge on a dull blade. Even when I pick up a new (old) tool, I can fix it by hand quickly enough.

  25. Robert on 22 February 2021 at 7:31 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve got the very same Marples Chisels since the ’80’s and the’re still going strong. Keep them sharp and they will last forever !! Longer than COVID for sure ? 🙂

  26. Flemming Aaberg on 22 February 2021 at 10:05 pm

    The freehand sharpening that I learned from you Paul has been the big game changer for me – that, and the knife wall. Thank you.

    • Paul Sellers on 22 February 2021 at 10:10 pm

      I will know I have won the whole game when I see everyone do as I say and combine the two words as I do into one word as in ‘knifewall’. When I see the word knifewall in an English dictionary I will rest in peace and rest my case for creating the word I am sure. I have had to add it to my spellchecker dictionary to eliminate the red underscore for sanity’s sake!

      • Jack on 22 February 2021 at 10:52 pm

        That is so funny (and satisfying!), Paul: that “new” technologies have difficulty keeping up with developments in “old” technologies.
        Thank for everything, by the way.

      • Flemming on 23 February 2021 at 9:59 am

        Knifewall it is!

      • Sylvain on 23 February 2021 at 4:48 pm

        “knifewall” is very difficult to translate as it conveys, in addition to marking, many ideas:
        – the result of an asymmetric incision with the knife (first picture of blog: WHAT’S ‘KNIFEWALL’? dated 27 December 2017);
        – the subsequent use of that cut as an abutment for further cut.

        So in French (dropping also the marking aspect) I would have to say something like:
        – “incision d’épaulement” or “incision de butée” or “incision de culée”.

      • John Besharian on 23 February 2021 at 10:12 pm

        Yes, “Knifewall” is (now) a real word in the “Queen’s English” curtsey of you, Sir Paul. (Current occupant of the throne being a her and not a him & all.) What you call your “Spellchecker”, I’ve determined is actually “Mr. SpelCzech”, a.k.a. “He who knows better than we do what we were going to say and how it is spelt”.

        • John Besharian on 23 February 2021 at 10:18 pm

          [Correction: “Courtesy”, not “Curtsey”, of course. “Murphy never sleeps” according to a dear friend who is now gone.]

  27. Andy McCulloch on 23 February 2021 at 11:21 am

    I have an old set of Stanley 5002s. They are certainly more than 35 years old and I’m afraid had suffered greatly at my inadequate sharpening techniques.
    The video on sharpening, coupled with a winter lockdown, encouraged me to try and put things right. I acquired a 400/1000 diamond sharpening stone and set to work. I don’t possess a grinder so everything was done using the stone.
    The 6mm and 12mm chisels came up quite quickly – not much metal to remove. The 18mm took a bit longer, I must have been a bit more effective in previous pre-diamond attempts – but the 22mm one took nearly 4 hours!
    Worth it in the end and I went to to sharpen two unidentifiable ones at the bottom of the toolbox.
    Knifewall – why did my woodwork teacher to mention this technique 57 years ago?

  28. Robert Rossi on 23 February 2021 at 2:38 pm

    My grandfather taught me how to sharpen my pocket knife on an old broken black whetstone using my spit as a lubricant.
    In the 50 some years since that, I have lost that broken stone but have purchased new water stones and still have a norton oil stone left from my days as a machinist in the Air Force. I have adapted the techniques that I learned sharpening my pocket knife to my chisels and plane irons.
    I recently purchased a new slow speed electric grinder, it’s great for sharpening my lawnmower blade. It will never see the edge of my chisels.

  29. David D on 23 February 2021 at 9:47 pm

    Paul, your videos on sharpening have made a big difference in my chisels and plane irons. Thank you! I was pleased to see the Marples chisels. They’re still available with some searching; I’ve found some still new in the original package (not Irwin Marples). I don’t have a big collection of chisels because the Sheffield steel Marples do what I need.

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