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Ashley Iles Butt Chisels - Quality Issue?

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D_W

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It's probably free machining leaded brass (360). that has the grainy kind of easy to cut and mill texture that you're talking about.

I think at some point, people gave up on those parts of chisels. I've got a nice set of wooden handled footprint chisels, but they have hoops that look like a hose clamp, and one is used as a ferrule. Two out of four of those broke at some point.

I'm sure that once the tools go from the UK to here (where dry winters cause shrinkage and less subsequent springback) their ferrules will fall off, too. AI chisels and old planes generally shrink here and there are issues with bits coming off (it's not brand specific to anything, though - old plow planes that got along fine in the UK will show up over here and have boxwood nuts get tight and split fairly often).

The missed detail here is that you found usable tools that you needed to do nothing but replace the ferrule on for 50p and the issue is the ferrule? The new boutique tools made in the states here have taught people that they don't need to learn how to do anything in regard to tool making, but you get to a ceiling in making anything really quickly if you can't make or modify tools.
 

dannyr

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Still, it's a shame how many of the brass ferrules split, on chisels made in the last 40 years especially.

Couple of material choices I question: thin brass for ferrules and beech for handles that are going to be hit - such as the classic heavy mortise chisel - I've had quite a few (not need, but difficult to pass up over the years when I've seen them for less than £5 (which is often)) - almost always the original is beech, but the replacements are ash - so much tougher, less likely to split, and cheaper. Re the ferrule - why not cheaper and much tougher steel? - rust I guess. Also no-one seems to use copper - water/gas pipe offcuts abound - good thickness, and tough.
 

Phil Pascoe

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DSCF0292.JPG

compression fittings are good for turning tools.
 

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Sheffield Tony

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Copper pipe ferrules look 'orrible IMHO. But steel is normal on mortice chisels. IIRC Ray Iles advised not to fix brass ferrules by punching them - the split is usually through where it was punched.

Ash less likely to split than beech ? One of the useful properties of ash is that it is easier ro rive. But beech does move a lot, perhaps surprising it is a popular choice for tools.
 

Ttrees

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Does anyone know what these fittings are called, and can they be easily got in good plumbers merchants?
They wouldn't break too easy.
 

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Tony Zaffuto

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What is the purpose of the ferrule? Decoration or to prevent the handle from splitting? Making your own handles? If turning the wood, why not get a piece of brass tubing? Turns as easy as most woods, polishes up beautifully to remove turning traces and wall thickness will not permit the ferrule to easily split.

The Ashley Iles chisels, though mid range priced, in my opinion, are as good as any US produced chisel, though that may be more to my liking of the steel. I have had AI chisels for nearly two decades, with all ferrules intact, though one handle has a bit of a split, though not enough to get my shorts in a knot. The Ashley Iles round back chisels, are my absolute favorite chisels for paring dovetails.
 

Phil Pascoe

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I turn my handles. I buy ferrules because
1/ it's easier and quicker.
2/ they have an internal flare which makes them easier to fit tightly.
3/ they're not much more expensive than buying brass pipe.
4/ if you make your own, it's impractical to use a pipe cutter as the ends then collapse inwards, making them impossible to fit properly. You have to use a hacksaw - then the ends are rarely square.
 

dannyr

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I've found that most bought ferrules have this prob of being rather thin so if the wood is dry when put on and moves to a damper place or season, it can be enough to split them, let alone giving too much 'welly'.
Agree re buying tube for ferrules, but short lengths of good brass tube are quite pricey - I have been 'lucky' (middle name 'steptoe') and picked up various bits of tubing over time.
I also half agree about copper tubing (and stainless) with my Sheff neighbour - brass and steel look right - but actually when copper's the only thing to hand I have quite liked the result.
Not that I do much carving, but have been thinking about making a set of carving chisel handles in different woods with different metal ferrules (should also make it easier to pick the right chisel).
Re ash splitting - yes it does rive wonderfully when green, but in practice it seems to hold together well when hit on the grain end (hickory, ie recycled hammer handles etc poss even better - and oak?). And beech takes a clout on side grain and is great for wooden planes.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Yes, I've never seen the appeal of rows of identical handles - it's far easier to pick up the correct tool when the handles are different in one way or another. (see my turning tools on the previous page.)
 

Cheshirechappie

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I remember reading somewhere (and I'm damned if I can remember where, now - so don't necessarily take this as gospel!) that a reliable method of making drawn tubes wasn't perfected until about the 1840s, so chisels tended to be unferruled before then. Chisels were made with larger bolsters to register the tang end of the handle against. The practice of not using ferrules did persist for many years after; I inherited some Henry Taylor carving chisels of (probably) 1920s date from one of my grandfathers; they had been bought unhandled, and home-turned beech handles without ferrules fitted. They're still going, so no ferrule is not a guarantee of early handle failure!

Bob Rozaieski fitted his chisels with unferruled octagon handles, and did a blog post and video;

https://brfinewoodworking.com/how-to-re ... -a-chisel/

Benjamin Seaton's chisels (dating from 1797) had tapered unferruled octagon handles, the octagon not being regular, but more like a square with the corners knocked off. I'd imagine they register quite nicely in the hand.

I suspect the advantage of the ferrule was that it allowed a smaller handle, and thus a smaller bolster on the chisel forging. Forging a large bolster (or forging down the blade and tang from chunkier stock bar) would be more work for the smith than tools with smaller bolsters. Also allowed manufacturers to fit fancier turned handles, and thus charge more!
 

D_W

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hard and fast rules are often given for ferrules (With timelines) when your example of the carving tools does a good job of showing that in some cases they just never were on tools. I don't remember any on pfeil carving tools, including the larger gouges that come in a set with a mallet to hit them.

In keeping with the comment either here or somewhere else, if a user demands a tool that never breaks or will never need their own input, they'll be punished for it by having a narrow range of things to choose from and maybe bulky over-wrought designs to deal with.

You can often find dealers asserting that this or that older chisel has no hoop, or no ferrule, so therefore, it is not designed to be struck. I think this often isn't true, but sometimes the chisel isn't designed to be struck and at the same time, the handle has no ferrule or hoop. IF a chisel has a hoop, then it's intended to be struck. But strong designs can be made without having either a hoop or ferrule (outside of OBM chisels) just by biasing the handles if there is a reasonable bolster to work with. I don't know what you'd call the style of handle, but I'd refer to it as a symmetrical pillow where the handle shape is convex heading into the bolster. It works well and the handle doesn't have to be drastically fat. If one is ever broken (rare) then making another one is trivial.
 

dannyr

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Just a small point, but isn't it the case that Pfeil have some kind of hidden ferrule, ie a slim, sharp cylinder punched into the end before the chisel tang goes in. If not them then I'm sure this is or was a feature of one of the Austrian, Swiss or German carving chisels.
 

G S Haydon

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Long may Ashley Iles continue to do exactly what they are doing. It will come to an end one day. Then we can all enjoy CNC made tools, by that point nobody will want furniture that looks like it's come from a human hand.

What I enjoy about handwork is striking the right kind of balance and accepting machine perfection in every element is not often the desired outcome. Athough it's an extreme example, it's trying to comapre a photo to a painting or drawing. Clinical perfection or something which is alive. Hard to define!
 

Tony Zaffuto

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Best post of the thread! AI is not re-creating vintage chisels, they are simply continuing decades old traditional manufacturing, for methods and materials! Here in the States, AI is unfortunately overlooked too many times, and that is a shame as, to me for the butt and roundback styles, these are some of the better choices to be made.
 
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