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Ashley Iles chisels REVIEW

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HI all

Finally a review of the Ashley Isles chisels:


click on image for larger view

Good things
Well, they came very well packaged with a sort of rubbery gloop on the end to protect the cutting edge which was razor sharp and immediately usable :eek:
I flattened the backs on the Rexon 1000 grit and polished to a fine mirror finish on the 6000 grit. This didn't take too long as the 1000 grit cuts the steel much more quickly than my 2 cherries or Japanese chisels.

This leads me to believe that the steel is a bit softer than my other chisels but I would have to say it is as 'tough' in that the chisels are holding their edges very well indeed.
Having said that, each chisel has been tested on the Rockwell C scale before despatch and I can easily see the small indent made by the hardness tester. The AI production manager told me that all chisels are tested by him personally before shipping and he will only despatch rockwell (C) 59-61.

Talking of the production manager, I phoned the company before ordering to discuss manufacturing etc. He told me that the AI guarantee is for life (mine not the chisels) and if at any time I am unhappy, I can return the chisels for a refund or to have them reground - as many times as I want :shock: :D Also, if the handles split during the first two years of use then they will be replaced free of charge., Now THAT is service how it should be.

The Bubinga handles are superb, beautiful and oiled rather than that horrible varnish one often gets on other chisels. They are a little on the large side but that suits me fine. However, I was told that if I found them to be too large, then I could send them back for re-turning !!!
I was also given a choice of 4 handles, 2 sizes and 2 materials.

The vertical sides between the back and the bevel is extraordinarily thin and should allow these to be used when producing hand cut dovetails quite easily - a real problem with the two cherries

These chisels cut beautifully. I dressed up the 25 degree bevel on my 6000 grit and then cut a 30 degree secondary. They pare so nicely :lol:

Their appearance is of a very high quality hand made tool of the type one used to be able to buy but is ohhh to rare these days. These are hand forged tools made by craftsmen who care.

Before use I measured all 8 against the stated width and the worst was 0.2mm (zero point two) undersize.

Bad things
The backs of the chisels are not ground but are glazed using a sort of linisher. The curved end is used rather than the flat of the belt and thus all of the chisels arrived with a concave back. The deepest concave section was about 0.5mm deep which is a lot and surprised me. However, as I already stated, the steel grinds very easily and I soon had them all nicely flat.

I ground them on the Rexon wet grinder and when I came back into the workshop 12 hours later, I found spots of rust on several chisels :shock: :cry:
A quick rub with wire wool followed by a coat of Camelia oil fixed that

The name Ashley Iles is printed on the blade but this was removed during the flattening and cleaning up with wire wool. I would have preferred this to have remained on the chisels

All handles are all of the same size. I would prefer the handle size to reflect the blade size as the two cherries do.


No other bad things to tell :D

OK the bottom line.
They cost a quarter of the (superior) LN chisels. They feel 'right' in the hand and cut like a dream. Photographs do not do them justice - they look better in the flesh (steel?)
The guarantee and time the company were prepared to give me is reason enough to buy them.

I love them.

If you want some, then buy directly from the factory - it is much cheaper.

Cheers

Tony

PS a friend belongs to a turning club, AI opened the factory for a visit by 8 members on a saturday to allow them to see how the chisels are made - laid on a demo too.
 

Aragorn

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Thanks for the review - very good. Funny: I happen to be looking for a decent set of chisels....
Do you mind telling me what the "other" bottom line was, and the contact details of the factory??
 
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Mike, Aragorn

Full contact details for AI are here:

http://turningtools.co.uk/ashleyiles/

My chisels are 3, 6, 10, 13, 16, 19, 25, 32mm and this little lot cost me about £115 including VAT and P&P

They also produce a 22, 38 and 50mm
 

Pete W

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Great review, Tony. Made me more than a bit jealous :).

But, is it just me or are there no chisels mentioned anywhere on their website? I could only find carving and turning tools!
 

Chris Knight

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Tony,

Thanks for the review. Bit of a surprise about the backs I must say. Still a concave back is infinitely easier to deal with than a convex back. But - given their promises, I might just have sent the chisels back to see if they would correct the problem.

Regarding such promises - I once bought a Sorby corner chisel (big mistake, I never use it!) and in a misguided , pitiful attempt to sharpen it, screwed it up completely. I sent it back to Sorby, admitting my incompetence and they reshaped/sharpened it FOC. Sorby never made me a promise of any sort but I was very pleasantly surprised by the experience. I am sorry to say that this is the only modern chisel I possess - apart now from some carving chisels - and so cannot say whether modern Sorbys could compete with AIs or not - I do have some pre-war chisels from Sorby and they are pretty good.
 

Alf

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Up the proverbial creek
waterhead37":2txnydkw said:
I once bought a Sorby corner chisel (big mistake, I never use it!)
Snap. But I'd got it beautifully sharp up until the point it burst the hopelessly thin brass ferrule and was returned. They sent a replacement FOC but, of course, it had to be sharpened... :roll:

Nice review, Tony. You just let 'em rust to try and tip me over the edge, I can tell. It almost worked too. :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 
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Nice to read! Ashley was my wife's uncle, now Barry's running the business. Needless to say I use AI tools!!!!
 

Adam

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White House Workshops? Do you work for Rupert and Charles?

Adam
 
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Not sure I can arrange discounts - but I can always ask.

Don't know Rupert and Charles. My workshop is named after our house -- I knocked two old garages into one to give an L shape 24' by 16' (approx)
 

Adam

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White House Workshop":gfohr6u2 said:
Not sure I can arrange discounts - but I can always ask.

Don't know Rupert and Charles. My workshop is named after our house -- I knocked two old garages into one to give an L shape 24' by 16' (approx)
Ahh, these guys work out of White House Workshops......

http://www.seniorandcarmichael.co.uk

Adam
 

ike

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Tony wrote:

I was also given a choice of 4 handles, 2 sizes and 2 materials.
I was told there is only one size handle.
 
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ike":2184z94y said:
Tony wrote:

I was also given a choice of 4 handles, 2 sizes and 2 materials.
I was told there is only one size handle.
Bloke who told me this was the production manager. He told me over the phone
 

ike

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Ah, I spoke to a lady - Cristine I think her name is. Maybe she wasn't aware of that fact. Anyway, i've ordered the Bubinga handles. I can't imagine they'll be too big for me. Same selection as yours except for a 38mm instead of a 32mm = £117ish. Thanks for the tip.

Ike soupplatesausagefingerhands.
 
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Hi soupplatesausagefingerhands :D

They are big but you get to love them. In fact, I love them each time I use one :)

Enjoy
 

ike

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Well, I'm so anticipating using them, Ive upped my order to a set of 10 (excepting the 50mm). :D Should complement veeeerrrrry nicely the eagerly awaited LV LA jack/block/smoother combo! 8)

Patience man! patience!....tap..tap..tap... sigh...tap...tap...tap.
 

sxlalan

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Does any one know what the 2 sizes of handles are for these chisels and which are recommended?

Cheers

Alan
 
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