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Do you think a rehardened stanley socket chisel...

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D_W

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...would be able to hold its own even-up with boutique chisels? A2/V11 whatever? (that is with skilled rehardening, not just someone taking their first shot at rehardening).

I've generally felt like most of what stanley is using (this isn't true of later cheap tools) around WW2 or before has a feel like it's got plenty of carbon. What that translates to is that the tools are less hard than they could be, and Stanley chose to use good stock and do that rather than make slightly worse tools with lower carbon steel maxed out in hardness. Since they're more or less site tools, or sold both for bench and site work, the choice of hardness seems a compromise for hand grinding and honing with natural stones.

What triggers this thought (are they actually just as good, just need hardened to a different spec)? I read fairly often that stanley chisels don't perform that well compared to modern chisels and that the "steel isn't as good" (this is actually true for most budget chisels now, never seemed the case for most older chisels unless those are off-brand stuff).
 

D_W

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A fantastically uncurious group.

The rehardened stanley chisel holds up at least as well as V11 or anything you'll find A2, but sharpens easier.

For reasons that I don't know, stanley allowed the older chisels to be a little soft (probably so they would sharpen easily), but did so without using poor quality stock. A basic open air fast anneal, thermal cycle and rehardening yields a chisel that is probably 62 hardness and very fine grained. It will sharpen well on india/washita (the washita barely touches it, but that's the point - the resulting edge is fine).

After chopping in maple with a 1/2" rehardened "made in usa" style chisel, I go from sharpened edge to used edge in the next two pictures (note the interesting look of the well used edge - it hasnt' chipped, but it's burnishing a little bit and the very edge looks like it's been squashed a bit into uniformity)

As sharpened -stanley (these are 150X optical):
750 sharp.jpg


after what would be half a dozen or a dozen hard maple's worth of half blind chopping - stanley.
750 after maple.jpg


And V11 with the same edge profile from a prior test (This edge is also after chopping) - also hard maple, albeit not the same piece. you can debate which after picture looks better, though the edge on the stanley chisel has done effectively four times as much work - it's half as wide and the volume of maple chopped is twice as much:
v11 unicorn 107.jpg



These are drastically different steels - one feels like an oil hardening steel (stanley - which is interesting as I also rehardened three other stanley irons, and none is an oil hardening steel - and all three stanley irons from different eras are different steels - four samples, four different steel alloys), and the other (V11) obviously a powder metallurgy steel (high chromium, very high carbon based on an XRF analysis someone did on the US blue forum a very long time ago).

This whole idea is a bit of a rebuttal to the idea that "modern steels" are somehow better - especially in chisels - when it's not a difference in the steel that causes a difference in performance, it's the choice of hardness, and that would've been intentional.

The better older English chisels would be about an even match with the stanley chisel here, though they would be water hardening steel instead of oil hardening (less alloying, more just plain iron and carbon plus a small amount of alloying to improve hardening - even if that was alloy present in the ore - before modern metallurgy - or managed in the steelmaking process).

I could demonstrate the same thing with A2, but I haven't had (or wanted) an A2 chisel in years.

it is true that I can't take a 0.6% carbon chisel from china and duplicate these results. The steel being used has to be good enough to do this in the first place, and that's generally going to require something 0.9% carbon or more.
 

D_W

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(v11 has plenty of merit if you're looking for a long wearing smooth plane iron, though - this test is chisels and the results shouldn't be considered relevant for planes).
 

Inspector

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Not uncurious just didn't want to drop into the perpetually swirling vortex of sharpness and metals. I have no information to base my comment on but could it be that Stanley didn't take their chisels to the upper end of hardness because they would rather have a slightly tougher less brittle outcome?

Pete
 

Jacob

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Why would they need re-hardening? Did something soften them?
 

TRITON

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...would be able to hold its own even-up with boutique chisels? A2/V11 whatever? (that is with skilled rehardening, not just someone taking their first shot at rehardening).
Thats a possibility.

Do you know anyone 😜
 

Jacob

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(v11 has plenty of merit if you're looking for a long wearing smooth plane iron, though - this test is chisels and the results shouldn't be considered relevant for planes).
Why not?
 

Jacob

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....

I could demonstrate the same thing with A2, but I haven't had (or wanted) an A2 chisel in years.
....
How would you know this then?
 

D_W

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Why would they need re-hardening? Did something soften them?
If you're using them on site work or mahogany or softwoods, they don't need anything. There's a reputation that to "level up" to use exotics, you have to buy expensive chisels (or that you have to in the first place).

What I've learned making chisels is what people think is "toughness" is actually hardness, and then it's a matter of two things:
1) can the steel be quenched and then tempered back and still be hard enough
2) what's the property of the steel (fineness, fine edge holding, toughness) to go with the hardness

Plain steels are hard to beat for chisels. They also warp, so even with pedestrian O1, there's only one maker I can think of who has old skill using to make chisels with hardness over 60 (ashley iles).

If someone has a fascination with high hardness, they are a bit of skill and propane away from making some of their older tools the hardness they want.

If there's no problem, then there's no problem.

Spending $500 to solve this perceived issue, though, seems a bit extreme (such things are often advised to get the "tougher tools made of new steel").
 

D_W

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Not uncurious just didn't want to drop into the perpetually swirling vortex of sharpness and metals. I have no information to base my comment on but could it be that Stanley didn't take their chisels to the upper end of hardness because they would rather have a slightly tougher less brittle outcome?

Pete
Yes, more or less they were catering to a market that may be working in a door frame, then doing something at a bench or makeshift site, and that same person may wish to hand grind and hone the chisels (in an era where a friable grinding stone and an india or washita would've done the finish work).

As you can see, the chisel itself isn't particularly brittle (my experiments with 52100 suggest that too much toughness is a bad thing, as an edge that begins to fail won't let go and it "pulls itself" part rather than letting a little bit go like the chipping you see above).

The point isn't that V11 is a bad chisel (and I would do a sample with A2 and D2 if I had them, but I don't), it's that the touting of the superiority of any of it as far as being better is not correct.
1638550662571.jpeg


This is a chart of some samples that I had tested. The person who did the testing (who has a pretty fancy site talking about all kinds of stuff) sent me this chart - my open air results for O1 match commercial - I had one flyer, but less than a point away from the other three samples in hardness. 26c3 is a harder to work with steel than O1 and requires a faster quench, so the numbers aren't as consistent, but three separate samples vary by less than a point.

I put an X about where A2 and V11 would likely land, but both have coarser grain and the toughness test just check how hard it is to snap a sample. Finer grain tends to make a chisel better beyond the toughness test (so good O1 would make a better chisel than V11 or A2 in most cases - iles does a good job with O1).

I'm not aware of anyone else using O1 except LV, and LV likes a softer spec for O1 than would show up on this chart, so anyone buying a V11 and an O1 chisel might think V11 (or LN A2) is better than LV's O1. What they're really noticing is just that both of the latter are harder, but they would probably prefer O1 in day to day use because it abrades on sharpening stones twice as fast, but gives up nothing when chiseling and has a much finer grain.

26c3 is similar to japanese white. This result at around 64 hardness is better than white typically does in a commercial heat treat, but there may be something to the very simple steels (26c3 is very simple - once quenched, the carbides hold the alloying - iron carbides - so there's not a lot of anything floating around in it) that makes them better when done by hand and eye by someone with experience.

I have some experience with hardening. Albeit less than many folks, but if I can match commercial with one steel and better it with another (the furnace schedule for 26c3 yields about 8 ft/lbs of toughness scale), and the base steel (26c3) makes a better chisel than anything sold at the moment, at least if you're looking for edge holding - and it sharpens easily - then there's some data that verifies why people will get japanese chisels, consider them to be sharper feeling (due to hardness and carbon content) and hold an edge better than anything else (they do until you get into abuse where the fine edge isn't what's being held - then some HSS and matrix steels will fare better as they don't hold the fine edge as well, but for some reason take better to thing like chiseling nails).

(I'm not about to ever sell chisels, so this isn't a pitch - and I guess I don't really trust the average person who would make the same pitch to do the same work I've done to learn to harden with the results as shown above).
 

D_W

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Thats a possibility.

Do you know anyone 😜
I know a guy whose wife says he's a real silly person and "nobody else's husband does such dumb things all day the way he does".

I can call him, but I always get a busy signal - he must be subscribed. :)
 

raffo

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How about comparing the edge of the chisel before and after you re-harden it? I've a few 750s and one Defiance, I think it is a Defiance. The last one has a bad rep, we could try rehardening that one.
 

D_W

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How would you know this then?
experience, and micrographs of grain size along with toughness/hardness balance.

It's over your head, jacob. I"m not putting this out there for trolls.
 

D_W

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Plane irons should be failing by wear. Chisels fail by deflection or chipping of an edge. If a plane iron fails by deflection or chipping, something is going on that shouldn't be. Here is a 1095 plane iron wearing while planing. Note the lack of dents, but note also how the wear has abraded off most of the scratches left from sharpening.
1095 carbides.jpg


If I were to continue to use the stanley chisel above, it would eventually start to lose parts of its edge. How do I know? I've tested all of this stuff. The failure of an edge will always occur with chisels as a matter of chipping.

The chisels that I make with the steel in the chart top right are more resistant to failure than anything commercially offered outside of japan, but they will still eventually chip. It will just be several multiples of work before they do. its not linear when failure occurs, either
 

D_W

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How about comparing the edge of the chisel before and after you re-harden it? I've a few 750s and one Defiance, I think it is a Defiance. The last one has a bad rep, we could try rehardening that one.
This is the only stanley chisel I have of a type that people would use a lot, so that opportunity is lost. However, I had it ground as a skew and it wasn't that great. It didn't lack fineness, just hardness. I'd guess it was in the ballpark of 58/59, now it's probably about plus three and the difference in performance is enormous in that trade - 58/59 will deform and bend, 61/62 will take far more effort for deformation and in most steels, chipping will occur rather than deflection.
 

D_W

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How about comparing the edge of the chisel before and after you re-harden it? I've a few 750s and one Defiance, I think it is a Defiance. The last one has a bad rep, we could try rehardening that one.
it'd be interesting to see if there is a perceptible difference between the 750s and the defiance.

Rehardening any of these is low risk as if they were crack prone steels, stanley wouldn't have been able to make them in the thick cross sections they used.

I do get the point from your question, or infer it whether it's there or not - what would a low quality or a soft chisel look like after this amount of malleting. I'll get that - but there's an underlying thing going on in general. There are chisels that are too soft for hard maple but that will last fine in softwoods, so immediate failure in something isn't necessarily proof that a chisel is worthless - it's usually a sign that it's just too soft for the wood being chiseled.
 

D_W

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Updated my toughness chart - looked up the toughness of A2 when done ideally (so cryo).

A2 has some chromium carbide volume. V11 has a LOT more (thus V11 wears far longer in a plane).

What happens on a charpy toughness test is a proxy for edge toughness, but grain size comes into it and I think strength (due to carbon content) does, too.

A2 is just slightly tougher than O1, but it's also slightly coarser grain - so you could lever on the center of a chisel a little more without breaking it in half, but the O1 chisel would hold a finer thinner edge (this isn't news on the woodworking forums).
Screenshot 2021-10-22 145037.jpg


At some point, I will have XHP samples tested (same or similar to V11 - as in *very similar according to analysis results shown on an american forum). I don't expect (but it would be a pleasant surprise) to match commercial heat treat on something like XHP.

The fact that fine edges can crack more easily with high carbide volume is an interesting one (and it's related to toughness, but when cross section gets bigger, it's hard to call). That is, cracks always start in carbides and then propagate out to the steel itself until something breaks.

The yXR7 japanese chisels that are really tough are a "matrix" steel where there are no large carbides at all, so they can be driven to really high hardness without the edge cracking so easily. Those steels also have lower percentages of elements (otherwise the elements would aggregate out of the steel matrix and form carbides). So they don't wear long like something like V11 would. I think the lack of carbon makes the matrix steels less good at holding a fine edge (it seems to disappear and then what's left lasts forever).
 

D_W

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Here's one of a set of five parers that I just finished in the steel that's top right on the chart shown. It just never gets old. They'll pare everything from paulownia to ebony without issue.
20211203_165351.jpg

20211203_165405.jpg


There are little nuances in these chisels that you'd never get if they weren't made by hand. I hear relatively often "it's not better just because you're doing it by hand". Well, in this case, yes it is. They're thinner than CNC stuff could tolerate, they taper in with just slightly from business end to tang to prevent binding, and the top taper is curved. No jigs, no guides, no cnc cut this or that, no furnace to heat treat. Just hand and eye.

(they'll get a last little aesthetic refresh for light scratches or handling on the shellac when the whole set is done, and I guess i'll fine the filing on the bolster a little bit even though old chisels never have that perfect.)

Does the thinness make them fragile? No - I didn't ream out the taper in the handle quite enough (this is indian rosewood, it's always hard, but this blank is atypically high in density), and I let a heavy steel hammer do the work to force the handle the rest of the way home - with the bevel buried in scrap rosewood.

I'll never follow the idea that a commercial chisel that should be made that can't be tapped or at least lightly malleted. These can be hit briskly without risk of breaking them, though they'd be a bit awkward in that due to their length.
 

raffo

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Does the thinness make them fragile? No [...]

I'll never follow the idea that a commercial chisel that should be made that can't be tapped or at least lightly malleted. These can be hit briskly without risk of breaking them, though they'd be a bit awkward in that due to their length.
They look great Dave. Would malleting damage the edge?
 
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