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First Mark for Chisels

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D_W

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You may or may not see things that I post in the "how it's made" forum above (OK, that's a TV show, it's last thing you made or something of that sort), but I've been making chisels lately.

I hadn't considered marking them, and as stingy as I am and because I was born with a daily fear of running out of money, I don't want to pay a couple of hundred dollars for a metal stamp.

I have reverse letters (but they're 3/32ns and no serifs), but need to see if a recycled piece of file will do the trick and hold up.

First try is postage stamp edge pattern with a checkering file. What I didn't know is that in cutting the checkering deeper, the file literally bit into the checkering peaks that were already there.

After several whacks, no sign of damage to the stamp, though. I can move forward and make a neater one.

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20210304_184135.jpg
 

D_W

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For the uninitiated, reverse letters stamp a stamp backwards so that the stamp stamps them forward.

These stamps don't have serifs, but you can add them by modifying another stamp into a tiny line.
 

D_W

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If anyone is thinking about doing this (Which I doubt), using the stamps to establish the letters and then modifying from there is probably easiest. The stamps available here in the US that are hardened steel are Young Bros. They're good quality (no issue whacking them into annealed steel that's cold), but about $135 a set.

I don't know of any other good quality reversed set. The other option is to take up basic engraving and hammering the letters from scratch with a graver. This isn't hard. Doing it really neatly is the hard part.

I found 1/16th reverse stamps on ebay this morning, which will allow me to have more than just two letters on the next try (long and narrow). They were $40 used (the sets of these reverse letter stamps are around in spades generally unused, but in spades may mean that there's one set at a time on ebay). Forward stamps are obviously more common than reversed, but making a stamps with forward letters will result in backwards letters made by the stamp.

Point being, if you think you might do this at some point, acquiring the reverse letters when they're cheap is a good idea. If you don't use them, you can just dump them and be out not much.

If you just want to imprint wood, you can use the reverse stamps much more easily in brass and not harden anything and checker file or notch the edge of a cheap piece of brass (of course, it could also be done in mild steel, etc). The stamp above needed to be made in steel then hardened, and tempered back to a point that the steel was hard enough but not chisel hard else the little checkered edges would chip off.

Too bad I filed part of the short side literally into the checkering that was already there or the stamp edge would be even above, but this is small work and not for tired eyes.

Always good to make something quick to find the errors and ability to work at all. I never make something that I want to make well assuming that the first option will do anything more than identify mistakes (you can't really guess into what they'll be) and prove usability.

Total cost for stamp making then will be a $35 checkering file and $40 for 1/16th stamps (already had the stamps used above here). Not much of it is permanently sunk and you could make dozens of stamps with this supply out of rubbish steel or brass cutoffs if you really want to. It's nice to make this stuff rather than buy it because you don't feel the need to be careful with it. You can just use it.
 

raffo

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Very nice David. Will you mark your previously unmarked tools?
 

D_W

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There are a couple here in the US, but they generally ask more than I'd like to pay (both for stamps and letters). They're always an option if I can't come up with something reasonable in a reasonable period of time. AS I recall, most of the hardened steel stamps are a couple of hundred dollars.
 

D_W

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Very nice David. Will you mark your previously unmarked tools?
I could stamp the wood, but the metal has to be heated to bright orange to get decent penetration and then there's distortion that needs to be hammered out (thus, I would guess most chisels were stamped first and then made.). A finished tool would get distorted.
 

baldkev

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How long does it take to make a chisel? I haven't seen a how to ( yet ) so i assume you make if from carbon steel blanks? After seeing a previous comment of yours, I also need to look at your plane making posts! As a site carpenter i often reach for my electric plane ( unless for fine stuff ) but ive recently dug out my no4 and no5 to clean them up.... ended up getting new beech handles and knobs, now i want to use them again!
 

D_W

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It takes about 2 hours total to make a chisel (starting from the old files out of a box from ebay to getting the handle on them).

I make planes generally of this type when I make them, but have made a few infills and a bunch of moulding planes. It's more like gentleman's work, but wooden planes would be excellent for coarse site work.



Ultimately, I'm going to have to settle on something reasonable for bar stock (probably 52100) as I'm whipping through everything ebay offers for old files, but I like old coarse tooth files made by nicholson and heller, and an indian brand that just says "india" and has a picture of something that looks like a willow tree on it. The higher end metal files are made of something more complex that isn't that amenable to typical forge normalization. I can heat the files, grind the teeth off and then they're just like bar stock, but the steel is something I haven't seen duplicated - I think they're probably 1.1% carbon or a tiny touch higher which makes them really "dry" feeling, and the base level files are not too highly alloyed (probably small amounts of manganese, chromium, and maybe bits of vanadium, but small amounts stay in solution and make the steel better and not worse for woodworking - as in, they make hardening more consistent and improve toughness a little. Once you get lots of any of those, then free carbides of said element form and that's not what I'm looking for. O1 is getting up toward being a little bit more alloyed, but is still decent (and very consistent to work with). Stuff like A2 is out of the question for me - not what i'm going for.

At any rate, it doesn't matter too much what the steel is as long as you have a feel for whether or not it's better than bar stock. Old file steels are at least as good as 52100, 52100 is very good (also very plain feeling, great for chisels - a nice wide range of tempers where a chisel will be hard enough but still not brittle), 1095 isn't that great (i've seen assertions that files are now 1095, but none of the good ones are). Anyway, point of the bar stock is that none of it is quite like the file steel, but it's close and sooner or later, getting 10 files to get 2 that are suitable for chisels is going to run out. I have at least 150 files right now that aren't a good size to make chisels and you can't take the thin ones and hammer them fat without a power hammer.

One of the reasons that I'm intent on making a mark instead of buying one is the desire to use what i already know and build on it. Once you get a feel for toughness vs. hardness in various steels, then you can get a good idea of what will work well. such as tempering my first mark so that the checkered fins would penetrate steel but not break off. Starting from never working with steel, it'd have been tough to gauge that, but knowing the files (the marks are made of scrap offcuts), I know 450F temper will be just too soft for a good chisel, only by a little, which means the trade of some hardness for toughness will be a good compromise. Something softer like saw temper would probably lead to the peaks of the checkered ridges getting bent off.
 
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D_W

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This is raffo's set of chisels - he provided the apple for the handles.



I'm looking for a very specific aesthetic (these were posted in the "last thing made" thread) and feel - you could pretty much say I'm robbing the English pattern. It's possible to make chisels faster than 2 hours (possible to make them a lot faster if you make them coarsely out of bar stock and just stuff them into a handle). I'm sure I could make that type in half an hour, but we're all looking to do different things. I have a gimmick that I'd call "6 foot rule". I want my tools to look professionally made from 6 feet away. If little nits make it so that they're obviously not original closer to that, no problem.

Sometimes you feel like you have to be apologetic for wanting to do something very specific as many folks have drive by opinions about how you should do it or how you're wasting time.

Most of us woodworking are wasting time. Over the last decade, I've gotten comfortable with the idea that I'm more of a toolmaker than furniture maker, but still hear several times a year that getting nutty about making tools is a waste of time that should be spent on furniture (I think if you're not excited about furniture, then making it for more than the cost of purchased used antiques is kind of a waste, but if you love to make it, then it's not).
 

D_W

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eclipse style guide in that picture for jacob - i can't remember why that was out, but may have been making this plane around the same time as running a standardized test on a plane iron.
 

baldkev

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Ok cool, so you sell the chisels and planes you make? Ive never used a wooden plane, although at one point you could find loads at car boot sales for 50p a pop!
 

D_W

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Ok cool, so you sell the chisels and planes you make? Ive never used a wooden plane, although at one point you could find loads at car boot sales for 50p a pop!
I sell the chisels for materials plus consumables. Planes generally for the cost of materials (but I've never made an infill plane to sell), materials for a good woody are about $100.
 

TRITON

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I think it looks pretty cool the jagged lines around the logo.
 
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D_W

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I think it looks pretty cool the jagged lines around the logo.
I like that look, too - the stamp edge on mine is a bit tall looking vs the originals. I'd imagine the stamp edge makes it easier for the stamp to punch in ,but certainly on strike 2 and 3 if needed, much easier to register the stamp in the prior punch to avoid the appearance of misstrikes.

I talk to a "real" toolmaker from time to time. He suggested the checkering as it's not easy to file those lines in to a stamp wiht a triangular file and do it evenly in depth at the edge plus further up the stamp for deep strikes. I'd imagine shorter checkering files aren't common now (the ones like I got are for rifle stocks as far as I know, where deeper lines and really sharp pointy teeth probably make a crisper look)
 

D_W

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I think it looks pretty cool the jagged lines around the logo.
Prices for their stuff generally looks lower than young (though I know nothing about young stamps other than that they're iowa made and I can find them used). I could make a comment about it being a shame there aren't high stress vintage style stamps (the serif types have serifs, but they don't look like a 1800s stamp, and neither do mine), but it would be a foolish comment as there's no real market for it.

I've bookmarked them, though, in case I can't make something suitable.
 

D_W

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Ok cool, so you sell the chisels and planes you make? Ive never used a wooden plane, although at one point you could find loads at car boot sales for 50p a pop!
ebay killed tools on the ground here, but so did the increase in the hobby - I wasn't around for the ultra cheap part of buying things, but even in the 15 years that I've been woodworking (maybe a little more than that), the common stuff here has doubled in price. I can still find $1 chisels and such in antique malls near where my parents live, but they're usually basket cases and the good chisels get picked out by ebay resellers looking to make extra on the side.
 

D_W

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Chisel on the left is the one above with the grungy mark.

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