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Old and new bevel edged chisels.

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Anonymous

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Hello all,

I have been buying old chisels at car boot sales and things for a while now. I have a found a great selection of old Sorby, Marples and other good steel chisels which I am very happy with for the price (about a pound each, or less if you buy a handfull). But they are all firmer or mortise chisels, that is they don't have bevel edges.

I want some decent bevel edge chisels (for DT work and finer stuff) but I just can't seem to find any on the second hand market. I wonder why this is? Are bevel edged chisels a 'recent' introduction to this country, which just weren't made a while back? (I would guess that most of my chisels are 50 or so years old). I do see the odd recent, plastic handled bevel edged chisel, but the quality of them looks pretty poor. Or are they fundamentally weaker in construction so don't last long enough to turn up on the second hand rust market? Or do people hoard them?

Basically I can't figure out why high quality firmer chisels are two-a-penny and bevel edged chisels are rarer than rocking horse droppings.

I might have to bite the bullet and buy a new set (much as it pains me). Does anyone have any experience with the Bahco range? Do Bahco make good tools?

Thanks for listening. Any suggestions on a decent set of (cheap!) bevel edged chisels appreciated.

(PS thanks for an enjoyable and knowledgeable forum)
 

Alf

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Welcome to the forum, John.

Well I think it's probably the bevel edged are more sought after, so they go PDQ, while the square edged hang about, unloved. Plus the bevel edges were more expensive to start with, so fewer people stumped up the extra; and indeed fewer people needed to. Hmm, mostly we don't need them now really, which is just as well considering the "bevels" on many modern chisels...

Tsk, gotta dash. I'll come back to this later, although I expect others will comment in the meantime.

Cheers, Alf
 
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Anonymous

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Alf":2xgt50w2 said:
Welcome to the forum, John.
Thanks for the welcome, Alf
Well I think it's probably the bevel edged are more sought after, so they go PDQ
You mean I have to get up even earlier?!
Plus the bevel edges were more expensive to start with
Hmm, that's interesting. That would account for it, maybe.
mostly we don't need them now really
Don't we? Oh. I was getting along all right with my thick egded chisels, to be honest. But I thought I must be missing something--all the shiney new ones you see in the toyshop (I mean toolshop) window seem to be bevel edged, so I just assumed there must be some advantage.

Thanks.
 

Adam

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Welcome to the forum, can't help much on the question, other than you just have to keep looking!

Adam
 

MikeW

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John George":dxvlt3gk said:
Hello all,

...I might have to bite the bullet and buy a new set (much as it pains me). Does anyone have any experience with the Bahco range? Do Bahco make good tools?

Thanks for listening. Any suggestions on a decent set of (cheap!) bevel edged chisels appreciated...
First, hello John.

Bahco (formerly Sandvik) certainly use to use high quality steel, I don't know about the new chisels, but the cabinet scrapers they make are still of good steel.

The plastic handles will hold up for a while. At least on the larger ones where you might end up giving them some good whacks over time the handles will split, which is what happened to mine back in the '70s. I turned a rosewood one that has lasted ever since.

The Sandvik chisels I have are the ones I reach for if abuse is going to happen--they have taken it well without complaint :).
 

Alf

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John George":2jjwwc97 said:
You mean I have to get up even earlier?!
Chuckle. Probably. Or just get luckier. :)

Very few shiny new "bevel edged" chisels are little morer than firmers with the corners knocked off, so the benefit is minimal. The trouble is bevel edged are perceived to be better quality, 'cos they were more expensive to produce, so the thinking is you can stick a bevel on any piece of tat and it must be better than a firmer, right? Wrong. The reason for having a bevel is totally misunderstood by the majority of manufacturers, and it doesn't matter to the majority of users to be fair, so they get it all wrong. As you rightly say, they're just the thing for dovetails and other restricted corners where a square edge would bruise the work, so a square edge with just a token bevel on it is no help at all. LN have got it right, and I think the Ashley Iles are pretty good in that respect, but I'm not sure off-hand about the Bahcos. I would guess they may be more designed with robustness on the jobsite in mind than fine bevels though. Nothing wrong with that, just not what you're looking for.

There's an interesting tip in an old Woodworker Annual I have that actively recommends grinding your own bevel edge in the last inch or so of a firmer. The thinking is to avoid the discomfort to your hand from the sharp edges of a factory produced one with the bevel all the way up the blade, but if you've got lots of cheap firmers, a large reservoir of patience and a bench grinder...? :-k Just a thought.

As far as saying we don't need them most of the time, I'd like to point out that of course we do. What was I thinking? #-o You always need more tools... :roll: But really a firmer is quite capable of nearly everything and can even be the better choice in some cases. Especially if it's a toss up between a good, old, cast steel firmer and a cheap, plastic handled bevel-edged wannabe. :wink:

Any help? Probably not. But at least I've been able to get in my Firmer Chisel Appreciation Society Public Information Broadcast... :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 

devonwoody

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John

I purchased some German chisels last month that I thought were bevel (the blurb said they were and the picture looked like thay were as well, BUT THEY WERN'T)

In the end I used a portable sander (in the vice upside down) and ground off the first inch as Alf said.

Welcome are you a musician and related to Michael ? :)
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Hi John

I will add a few pointers.

For dovetails, as you note, bevel edge chisels are necessary. What you have at present are firmer chisels. But there is also a mid point, which may be termed bevelled firmer chisels. Now you do not want these as the sides/shoulders will be too thick to get into the narrow angles of the dovetails. I have a set of Witherbys which I would classify as belong to this group. Beautiful chisels, fantastic steel, but less suited to dovetails. Not all bevel edge chisels are the same.

My personal favourite chisels for paring dovetails are A E Berg (which I grind at 20 degrees). They are very thin, with fine-angled shoulders. The steel is excellent and they are comfortable to hold. Very collectable, however, and not so easy to obtain. Of interest is the fact that Berg was taken over by Sandvik, who were in turn taken over by Bahco. To add to this mix, I have a set of Nooitgedacht chisels (Dutch-produced using Swedish steel) that are near-copies of the Bergs (except that the shoulders are not so fine). A lot of fine chisels came out of Eskilstuna, not all of these labled "Berg".

My next favourite are Matsumura dovetail chisels, which are preferred when chopping is necessary. These are ground at 30 degrees and are almost triangular in cross section. I do have several Japanese butt chisels, such as the Iyoroi. These are, again, too thick in the shoulder to use for dovetails.

The thought occurs that you may wish to "convert" some of your Sorby firmer chisels into dovetail chisels by grinding the shoulders. I have done this freehand with a grinder (a very delicate touch is needed so as not top burn the steel) and, while very time consuming, is certainly very rewarding, especially if you go the whole hog and turn your own handles as well.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

devonwoody

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I am coming to the opinion that only one bevel chisel 1/4" is required to work a dovetail. The larger sized chisels that have some bevel are adequate to get the joint started and use the small chisel to complete the joint.
 

bugbear

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I am coming to the opinion that only one bevel chisel 1/4" is required to work a dovetail.
Chisel choice is a compromise. Narrower chisels require less force to push, encouraging finer control, but they make it more difficult to ensure a flat face; it's easy to have a minor "twist" in way you hold a narrow chisel.

A wider chisel makes a flat floor easier to generate, but requires more pressure.

Oh - and just in case anybody thinks I've forgotten - your chisel must be narrower than the gap you're cleaning :)

Finally, Adam Chrubini is of the (firmly held :) opinion that you don't need dovetail chisels for dovetails. There are many things you don't need, but decent tools are something I want. A lot.

BugBear
 

devonwoody

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bugbear,

David Cohen has posted a dovetail jig which gets over the problem of getting clean shoulders (its really good I made one). It makes a clean and equal shoulder line cut right across all dovetails. A search here or at the Aussie site will almost certainly produce the gear.
Then I come back to my feeling that only the one good bevel type chisel is then all thats required.
 
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MikeW":2bxi85dx said:
Bahco (formerly Sandvik)
Don't think they are. Bahco have been around since 1886 and actually invented the adjustable spanner in 1892 - they still make the best one around :wink:
 

Alf

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Bahco bought up Sandvik (or changed the name to Bahco for everything a la "Irwin" or something), so lots of Bahco things are "formerly Sandvik".

Cheers, Alf
 

Noel

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Sandvik is Bahco and Bahco is Sandvik. Just separate trading names of the one company. In various markets one of the brands has often superceded the other.
 

MikeW

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Picky picky.

To be (more) precise, Sandvik aquired Bahco in 1991 (Bahco says it was in 1992). Bahco (tools division of Sandvik) was in turn aquired by SNAP-ON in 1999

Sandvik was started in one form or another in 1858. After SNAP-ON's purchase of Bahco, Sandvik is now primarily in three areas: Tooling , Mining and Construction, and Specialty Steels.

Wanna know more?

Is this akin to flogging a dead horse* or what?

Mike

*Note, no horses, dead or living (or stuffed for that matter) were harmed in the production of this useless tid bit of information.
 

MikeW

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Tony":5ti5bb0g said:
MikeW":5ti5bb0g said:
Bahco (formerly Sandvik)
Don't think they are. Bahco have been around since 1886 and actually invented the adjustable spanner in 1892 - they still make the best one around :wink:
And to continue the flogging*, Sandvik transfered its tool making under the Bahco brand as it was phasing out its manufacturing of tools once the aquisition of Bahco occured.

It is my understanding that the metal used in Bahco (now owned by SNAP-ON) is still produced by Sandvik--which is the point of my original post--it was and remains good steel for tools.

Mike

*Note, see previous flogging note.
 

beech1948

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I remember a chisels test article in I think Furniture & Cabiney Making magazine.

I seem to recall that Ashley Iles was preferred, Sorbey a close second and BHACO a close third..only let down by plastic handles...but in reality so what. Steel was first rate.

regards

alan
 
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