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Is this chisel worth saving?

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RichardG

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I’ve found some of my Dad’s chisels from the 1950’s in the back of his shed. Four are Robert Sorby and one is a Marples. I’ve started to regrind them but noticed one is blue so it must have been overheated, is this now junk or will it be ok?

Thanks

Richard
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thetyreman

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definitely worth saving! that's some good steel, if you don't want to restore them sell them, someone on here will ave em, they're also boxwood handles, that makes them more desirable
 

Ttrees

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Agreed with Ben, they don't look in any way rubbish whatsoever.
It might be worth giving the chisel a wee lap on either sandpaper on a flat surface
glass shelf or what have you.
Ultex diamond stones are half price BTW and would be handy to have.
You can get other plates on ebay or other sites much cheaper, but these need to be on a flat surface also, as there a credit card thickness and will deflect out of flat, unlike the Ultex bonded to a chunky nickel plated lump of steel.

The bluing might only be on the surface and need a lick, not too well read on this but others will reply with what you need to know.
I was told that you can reharden the chisels needing just a gas hob if this in not the case.
I think it was ED65 who mentioned it.
Tom
 

Trevanion

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Where it's blue it will still be somewhat hard compared to plain steel, but it won't be as it used to be. The straw-colored section shouldn't be too badly affected. It will still give pretty good service despite having lost some of its temper due to turning blue, you'll just be sharpening it more often than it would've been before and eventually after many years you might get it back to the straw-colored section and it will be much harder.

It would be very difficult to properly re-harden the entire thing at home without proper gear and know-how, doing it on the bodge is more likely to cause more harm than anything.

If in doubt give it a once over with some scotchbrite to get rid of the colouring and lump it on one of the sales sites, whoever buys it won't be any the wiser :twisted:
 

Ttrees

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If it worked to harden the first inch with a gas hob wouldn't that be alright though?
Or even spring for a culinary blow torch for a tenner, would that give better results?

I suppose another related question is can you remove the handle beforehand?
and maybe a more valid question if it can be done well on the hob.

Thanks folks, I hope I aint derailing Richard's thread.
Tom
 

Trevanion

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Ttrees":1dqt21ej said:
If it worked to harden the first inch with a gas hob wouldn't that be alright though?
Or even spring for a culinary blow torch for a tenner, would that give better results?

I suppose another related question is can you remove the handle beforehand?
and maybe a more valid question if it can be done well on the hob.
I don't think a hob or a culinary torch would even get it hot enough to harden it, especially an inch of it. I've done some hardening with a MAPP gas torch on small stock such as 10mm round bar and it takes a long time to get up to heat even with that, I definitely couldn't harden an inch of the steel with it. The risk you run with trying to harden it again yourself is that when you're heating up you'll ruin the good temper in the rest of the tool trying to do it, and you'll more than likely warp the tool when you dunk it in oil.

I'd be interested in a hob that can get a decent sized bit of steel up to 800 degrees Celcius or so! :lol:. You could definitely temper hardened steel with a gas hob fairly easily though, that only needs to be around 200 degrees.
 

Ttrees

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Thanks Trevanion
As you said it might be serviceable anyway as it is.
I wonder if this (if it's just the one) chisel was a bit too hard to begin with?

Not that I'm used to having vintage steel chisels, but I have an old vintage chisel that seems really hard in use, compared to the modern Stanleys I use.
It holds an edge really well but never seems to get quite as sharp as the modern ones I have.
I use this one for the last pare down to the line all the same, as is nice and nimble.

Is it unheard of that some vintage chisels could be a bit too hard?
Thanks
Tom
 

Ttrees

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Ttrees":rdd7ryed said:
I was told that you can reharden the chisels needing just a gas hob if this in not the case.
I think it was ED65 who mentioned it.
Tom
Sorry my bad, Ed65 mentioned the gas burner in relation to heating up a bent tang on a file to straighten it out.
Tom
 

Pete Maddex

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sharpen them and see how they retain their edge, the bluing is usually only on the surface so you should be o/k.
The big one is very nice.

Pete
 

RichardG

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Thanks everyone for the info, I definitely want to keep them. My Dad got them when he started his apprenticeship, apparently the company paid for them and then the money was taken out of his wages each week.

I have some Ultex diamond plates so will use them to flatten and reprofile. It’s a shame one of the handles is so damaged, not sure if I’ll be able to find a replacement?

I’m still rummaging and have also found a brace and a set of bits, looks like a home made marking gauge and some more chisels, some are stamped Ward steel and others have no markings and are very rough steel and handles, I’ll post some more photos hopefully later today.

Richard
 

Sheffield Tony

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It is possible to re-harden a chisel. I had a 1" or so farly heavy gouge, the edge of which just folded when used with a mallet, it was so soft. The handle was split too, so I turned a new handle, and while it was off hardened and tempered the blade - a MAPP torch can do it, but you need to arrange some firebrick/vermiculite board or whatever to enclose the work somewhat to keep the heat in.

As has already been said though, try it and see if you really have a problem first. You'll end up grinding it back a bit either way I imagine as the thin edge of the chisel is hard to temper perfectly with heat from a torch.
 

AndyT

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Replacement handles are available but you could easily repair that battered one. Plane the broken surface down flat, glue on an oversized piece of wood, then saw/rasp/shave/sandpaper to shape. Ideally you'd use boxwood but a bit of beech from an old chair leg would be ok and probably last as long as you need it to.
 

ED65

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Richard, re-hardening that blued chisel is absolutely doable at home, without prior experience or expensive kit. Every amateur toolmaker or restorer (including a few members here) had none of the former the first time they did it and in many cases the first job was a success.

First job is to grind past the rounding of course, which will take off a fair bit of the softened steel. You'll also get rid of any thin edge, removing the risk of burning the steel during heating.

On the badly chipped handle, gluing on a new chunk of wood as Andy describes is the best fix but another option is filled epoxy, either a commercial epoxy wood putty or epoxy glue you mix with wood dust and possibly other fillers yourself. Either can be tinted to a colour of your choosing with a dab of paint or some dry pigment.

An epoxy fill like this won't withstand much mallet use but is a long-lasting repair to any chisel handle. I've never had one fail and a few woodworkers have epoxy repairs much older.
 

ED65

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Ttrees":2ipm9q6o said:
If it worked to harden the first inch with a gas hob wouldn't that be alright though?
Or even spring for a culinary blow torch for a tenner, would that give better results?
Possibly yes, if it works it works, and yes.

Ttrees":2ipm9q6o said:
I suppose another related question is can you remove the handle beforehand?
You don't need to. As a video I posted a link to some years back showed even plastic-handled chisels can have their tips rehardened with the handle left on. Sadly the video was removed from YouTube so I can't link to it here; my guess is that it's behind the FW paywall now.

If you absolutely had to you could wrap a damp cloth around the base of a chisel blade to prevent any heat travelling into the tang, but I can promise this isn't necessary with any reasonable heat source.


Trevanion":2ipm9q6o said:
...doing it on the bodge is more likely to cause more harm than anything.
What's he going to do, make it softer? :lol:

Trevanion":2ipm9q6o said:
I'd be interested in a hob that can get a decent sized bit of steel up to 800 degrees Celcius or so!
You're not factoring in a few things. The first is the much greater amount of steel in round stock versus flat, plus this chisel seems like it might be a 1/4" no? Second, you can remove the burner parts to get a single vertical jet of gas instead of the spread-out ring of flames.

I've burned in a few chisels and numerous file to their handles by heating this way and you can certainly get the tip of a file tang up to critical temperature. I judge the chisel to be about the same cross-section as the tangs on some larger files. However many (all?) modern gas appliances no longer allow this due to safety cutoffs so not everyone can attempt this even if they wanted to.

Last thing is only about 10-12mm of steel really needs to be rehardened to give a useful working life; this represents at least a good few years of use for the typical amateur woodworker, possibly far longer. For a seldom-used chisel it may last someone the rest of their life. But most importantly, using a torch or similar heat source only about this much of the steel typically is left hard after the tempering so this is all you can expect to get!
 

RichardG

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I’ve cleaned and sharpened them all. The blued chisel clean up OK as well although it took sometime to get the tip flat.

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I’ll see how long it maintains its edge before doing anything else.

I’ll try and repair the handle as suggested once I find a bit of suitable wood.

I have a nice chisel set now :D

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I also found these bits, slightly off topic....may sell some of these as I don’t think I’ll ever use the brace and bits nor the saws.

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659C2D4F-46E7-4F46-B250-45CD739DE58F.jpeg


Richard
 

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Ttrees

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Maybe keep the brace and bit for some application that might require driving large flat head screws like you might see on that from acorn to arrabella
 

ED65

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Nice collection of quality vintage chisel steel you have there!

I'd consider keeping the brace too. Many a brace with twin jaws will grip a hex shaft securely, greatly opening up the possibilities of what you can use a brace for. In addition to its sometime use as a drill numerous members here use a brace as a powerful, silent, turnscrew or bolt driver.

The specific braces have varied over the years as different ones have come into my possession but I permanently have two braces on hand for this purpose, one for countersinks and the second for driving the screws.
 

MikeG.

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Hang on to one of those padsaws/ keyhole saws at least, Richard. You won't need it often, but when you do, nothing else will do the job. They're a great tool.
 

Sheffield Tony

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If you don't want the brace bits, send them to me please :D . Bullnose bits are not that common, and one of the better patterns for end grain boring.
 

Rich C

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ED65":1v8t022s said:
I'd consider keeping the brace too. Many a brace with twin jaws will grip a hex shaft securely, greatly opening up the possibilities of what you can use a brace for. In addition to its sometime use as a drill numerous members here use a brace as a powerful, silent, turnscrew or bolt driver.
Interesting use, not something I'd normally go for if I needed a powerful screw or bolt driver (I'd typically grab a socket set).
 
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