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SMALMALEKI

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Good evening everyone
It looks a bit odd title in a woodworking forum but let me conclude it first.

Couple of weeks ago I received a message as follows:

Hey Smalmaleki,

Call me nosy, but I'm just curious to why you're after the most expensive chisels on the planet? You've enquired into two sets of Blue Spruce chisels now and whilst they are most probably excellent chisels, I really don't see the need for them for a hobbyist? Especially paring chisels which are very long?

Best regards

This message was sent after I asked two members on this website about availability of their chisel sets as it is clear from the message.

I bought my first chisels from B&Q. They are good for what they are designed for ( working on construction). Then I bought a set of Marples which do not do any justice to their brand history.

My dovetails were very battered and bruised. I managed to hunt for a set of Aldi chisels after all. Good for starting to make finer woodwork but has its limits. I want to find some better chisels . There are limited options to go for. I was looking for bevel edge chisels.
Let’s see the options I can recall:
Riders £20 each ( not very happy with planes of the same brand)
Narex £15 each ( more a bench chisel)
Lie Nielsen £55 each ( Good chisels and not cheapest)
Veritas £80 each ( not cheap either and good reputations)
Ashley Iles £30 each ( good chisels with good reputation and affordable price but lead time of 10 weeks)

I come access a set of chisels for sale with all the criteria I am looking for , dovetail chisels , good finish, good reviews.

All of those chisels will do the job I expect of them , holding an edge and cutting the fibres with minimal bruising of the wood.

Fiat Panda and Ferrari are both made in Italy , they both can handle a speed limit of 70mph on motorway and take me from A to B. Why do people buy a Ferrari, a BMW or MB?

I enjoy the driving more than just arriving, I enjoy working on wood more than the product of my woodworking. I like to hold a nice tool and enjoy the visual pleasure of looking at them.

I hope my forum mate excuses my taste to enquire about those chisels.

BS : you are not nosy my friend.

Best regards

SMAlmaleki
 

Trevanion

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To be honest, I am very nosy :lol:

Whilst I can understand the sentiment of buying the best you can get and be happy with it, I honestly don't think you would gain that much by spending so much on a set. If I spent that much on chisels they would be in a glass cabinet and never used! :shock:

Some of the best chisels I've come across are the old Stanley 5002 with the blue plastic handles and the Marples blue square handled "Blue Chip" chisels. The lands are about as fine and thin as an Ashley Iles chisel, they've got good balance despite being plastic handled and are practically indestructible. The older ones came from an intermission period where they were still producing good steel but were catering to the heavier trades that needed a chisel to be walloped on so they put fool-proof plastic handles on. The Q&C is perfect on them because they were factory produced to perfection with proper kit unlike the Ashley Iles "That's good enough" bodge (In my opinion) chisels.



I've tried a few different chisels except for the very high having-to-sell-both-your-kidneys-to-afford-it end and I can honestly say these Stanleys (Marples are good too!) are the best value you can get. They've got good steel, they feel good, got super fine lands, you can give them a good whack with a proper hammer without looking like a nonce with some dainty glorified brass paperweight, and they're dirt cheap. I'm sure the Blue Spruce, Lie Nielsen, Veritas, Rob Cosman Rip-off and any other equivalent chisel is going to be excellent at the job, but with the massive abundance of affordable second-hand, excellent quality steel produced in this country such as old Marples, Stanley, Ward, Ibbotson Etc... That the Americans envy us for so much, why buy anything else?



BECAUSE THEY'RE GORGEOUS :wink:
 

AndyT

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Interesting discussion.

I've not used any Blue Spruce but I have handled some, on sale at an auction I went to.
I don't think they are gorgeous at all. I'll mention three reasons.
First, there's no gradation of handle size. That sounds an odd thing to object to - my hands stay the same size - but a big heavy handle which is right for an inch wide chisel will be unbalanced on a quarter inch size.

Second, the steel is the same thickness all the way up the blade. That means that the bevels stay the same width, until the grinding wheel lifts off.

Third, there's no bolster. I can understand that these chisels shouldn't be hit hard, but having nothing but a cut shoulder between blade and handle just looks machine-made, cheap and wrong to me.

I know this is all subjective. It's just how I feel about them.

PS. The curly maple wood is quite pretty. :)
 

SMALMALEKI

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Thank you for the contributions . It seems we both agree on what we say but we only have different angle of view. The Marples and Stanley which survived and are on sale today were the Lie-Nielsen and Bluespruce of their time.
I have noticed several times on the motorways when a small 1.2 lit petrol engine car overtakes me (I observe speed limits). That’s not to say we all have to drive a small car.
I found the new built chisels of a poor quality where I had to spend hours flattening the back and work on the handles to get them to my liking.
I have couple of old chisels as well but the steel on them is as soft as a Greek cheese on diamond plates.

I add £50 per hour to the price of tools if I need to alter them. :lol: Therefore a cheap chisel which needs an hour work ends up more expensive than the ones in question!!

:lol:

I will let you have the joy of looking at some better made chisels.
 

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SMALMALEKI

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Ranting Alert (hammer)

I have some Stanley no4 and 5 planes. They are well tuned and do the job well. I bought a larger plane for joining ( no 7). The first one had a twist on its sole :cry: I had to drive an hours back to the store and changed it to another one. I checked the sole there and flattened it there with their in store expert.
Last night I was going to check the frog and guess what? One of the frog screws is cold welded and it is not coming out, it is not even tight on that side and screw is sitting half a mm proud.
It means third journey to the shop and it is 6 hours of waisted time.
£300 loss of time. #-o #-o
 

AndyT

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Just to clarify, was the faulty no 7 a new Stanley or an old one?
 

SMALMALEKI

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It is a b**** brand new Rider. Excuse my bad language. I prefer a slightly heavier planes and Stanley’s are very light in my hand.
 

ScaredyCat

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Buy which ever you want. If you can afford expensive ones without noticing the price, buy them.
 

lurker

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If we all thought the same it would be a boring world.

I own very few "new" tools as I really enjoy finding a old but tatty tool and fettling it into something usable. It's a secondary, subsidiary hobby but can become a rabbit hole pushing out the woodworking. I have to own up to this to some extent.
Most of my chisels are a good 70 years old with fine boxwood handles, but I have to admit they don't get used much.
What do get used are 3 manky "tin openers" and rough bashers, plus a set (built up from car boot finds) of the black handled marples.(edit: Stanley not marples)

I was lucky in that I inherited some fine tools plus I was collecting other stuff from car boots when a number 4 plane was five quid tops and you could find three or four every time you went.

If I was starting out now I can see the sense in decent new kit, but it looks a bit of a (uncharted for me) minefield.
 

Lons

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Interesting.

Personally I don't like the shape of either the handles or blades of the BlueSpruce chisels, nice brass head mallet though, I'd pick the Marples though clearly it's not possible to compare the finish from photos.

Last time I bought new rather than s/h chisels was probable 10 years ago when I needed a set my the lads could use on site as I wouldn't allow them to use my gooduns.
 

SMALMALEKI

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ScaredyCat":1c1g8jav said:
Buy which ever you want. If you can afford expensive ones without noticing the price, buy them.
Dear ScardyCat

I am not rich by any stretch of imagination and do not have a money tree in the garden either. I have no skill or knowledge of restoring old tools. It is my desperate try not to start a new hobby. As it has been said it can be a slippery sloop.
On the other hand I value my short life. There is not enough hours in my life to spend with my family and enjoy my hobby and work full time (48 hours a week).
After few failure of cheaper tools I have reached the conclusion to buy a better made tool and spend the restoration time on better things.

I appreciate your post though.

Regards
 

SMALMALEKI

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Lons":mvh4fcdb said:
Interesting.

Personally I don't like the shape of either the handles or blades of the BlueSpruce chisels, nice brass head mallet though, I'd pick the Marples though clearly it's not possible to compare the finish from photos.

Last time I bought new rather than s/h chisels was probable 10 years ago when I needed a set my the lads could use on site as I wouldn't allow them to use my gooduns.
Dear Lons

I can’t stand plastic handle tools. They are not for my sweetie palms.
If you look at the pictures carefully, I think you can appreciate the quality of the finish on handles and brass collars.
They are miles apart.
Although I would definitely always support an English firm ( Ashley Iles) but the fact that they have left a sharp edge in the collar and handles are different from their advert pictures is something they might want to revisit.
I went there to their factory and have seen perhaps one of the last factories which makes chisels in England.

Regards
 

Lons

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SMALMALEKI":2csjrqfy said:
I can’t stand plastic handle tools. They are not for my sweetie palms.
If you look at the pictures carefully, I think you can appreciate the quality of the finish on handles and brass collars. They are miles apart.
Yep I know what you mean I don't like plastic much either. I do have quite a few of them kicking around though left over from my business as the lads didn't care what they used and abused so splitproof type were useful for them while I used decent old chisels.

I understand your desire for nice shiny well made tools, I'm the same with cars and tools, within my budget of course and love beautiful Lie-Neilsen planes for example but whilst like you I'm not rich but I could afford them I simply can't justify them and quite enjoy the relatively short time spent cleaning and sharpening a good quality old tool with a bit of history. Wondering who was the old pro who used it previously is part of the charm. It won't of course be as shiny as your new BlueSpruce examples. :wink:

It doesn't have to be a time consuming passion and certainly isn't in my case, just up to the individual.
 

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SMALMALEKI":2sknyb1b said:
Although I would definitely always support an English firm ( Ashley Iles) but the fact that they have left a sharp edge in the collar and handles are different from their advert pictures is something they might want to revisit.
I went there to their factory and have seen perhaps one of the last factories which makes chisels in England.
Their chisels are mediocre at best in my opinion. The ferrules (Collars as you say) are terrible quality brass and are notorious for splitting when the chisel handle expands in humidity, It's a problem that's persisted for a decade now and AI don't want to bother doing anything about it. I've actually bought one of their ferrules while at a woodworking show as there were baskets full of them fairly cheap so I took it home to test with a hammer, it just shattered into tiny pieces, you take a good quality piece of equivalent size brass tubing and hit it with a hammer it deforms until it is flat. I've had a couple of their chisels, the grinding is fairly poor and uneven on both lands. It's my opinion that "ground freehand without the aid of jigs or fixtures" is nothing to be proud about, why do an inferior process when you could make it better, more accurate and probably faster? The bevel itself was ground about 0.5mm out of square on a 25mm width chisel, while not a major issue it took a bit of time to bring it back square. Then the back of the chisel is actually curved quite a large amount back to front... And on top of all that the chisels themselves were about 1mm off centre with the handle which, again, isn't a major issue but you should strive to perfection. The steel itself is OK but nothing to write home about, not much better than the old Stanley chisels if at all.

They're not good, I don't see why people love them so.

There are a few manufacturers left in Britain such as Ashley Iles, Robert Sorby, Crown, Henry Taylor. It's just none have them have really pushed anything for 25+ years, they've all been left in the dust compared to the American and Mainland European manufacturers.
 

thetyreman

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best chisels I've used so far are the lie neilsen socket chisels, I only own a 3/8" inch one but it's amazing, for me they are the 'ferarri'..I am sure you can spend more if you like but you won't need to. There is something about the tactile feel of them, gonna have to get the full set at some point.
 

MikeG.

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Trevanion":28kf23v9 said:
........Some of the best chisels I've come across are the old Stanley 5002 with the blue plastic handles and the Marples blue square handled "Blue Chip" chisels..........
Absobloodylutely.
 

ScaredyCat

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SMALMALEKI":3el8mek7 said:
I have reached the conclusion to buy a better made tool and spend the restoration time on better things.
I think the general rule of thumb is buy the ones that are just out of your price range for the quality. That way they last beyond your initial purchase and use. I agree sometimes the more expensive ones are more than just expensive ones, they're better ones too.
 

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AndyT":2a9ebc0d said:
Second, the steel is the same thickness all the way up the blade. That means that the bevels stay the same width, until the grinding wheel lifts off.
Can you expand on that Please, as I think I am missing your point. I don't see why this might be a problem.
 

AndyT

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Just4Fun":39awlcnu said:
AndyT":39awlcnu said:
Second, the steel is the same thickness all the way up the blade. That means that the bevels stay the same width, until the grinding wheel lifts off.
Can you expand on that Please, as I think I am missing your point. I don't see why this might be a problem.
The difference comes, I assume, from a different method of construction. The Blue Spruce ones are probably cut from a flat strip of steel, then ground.

Older ones would be forged from a piece of round bar. By hand, with hammer and anvil, drawing out the steel to shape. This has a side effect of aligning the grain structure but I'm no metallurgist and am not claiming any special advantage from that.
For the old chisels we're likely to own, this would have been done by drop forging, where a red hot blank is bashed into a hollow "mood" (mould) to shape it. This used to involve skilled men with tongs, reheating and manipulating as required. For later production - including the blue handled Stanleys - it was more mechanised.

Chisels made by forging are thicker and stiffer at the handle end, slenderer at the tip.

This mostly affects the balance in the hand and may matter or not according to the preference of the user.

With a bevel edged chisel it does mean that the working end can be pleasantly thin and delicate. I think it's easier to make small accurate adjustments with a light, slender tool, the opposite of an all purpose firmer which is ideal for rougher work. The Blue Spruce don't appear to have that delicacy, so don't tempt me to buy them.
 

powertools

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I cant understand why anybody would question what you are interested in buying.
I do find it strange when some people who have a taste for fine quality tools like to think that unless you have the best you will never be able to enjoy the hobby.
Part of my enjoyment is to create something I am proud enough to say I made it with tools that I have and have made them work inorder to do it. I enjoy using and restoring old tools as much as I enjoy woodwork the 2 things go together for my enjoyment of the craft.
Just out of interest did you actually buy the tools you enquired about?
 
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