Paring Chisels May Break Me

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24 Aug 2015
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Actually, not just any paring chisels. I could do these in O1, and probably 52100, and commercially treated steel like A2 would be almost nothing due to its stability (or XHP/V11 if I bought a knife blank in 0.25" fare, though I'm not sure if it would forge weld - maybe not, but on a parer, forge welding the bolster wouldn't matter).

My *hero* of making things, if there is such a thing, asked if I'd make him a set of parers. I don't want to make him just anything, so I'm attempting to make them out of 26c3, which is ever so slightly different than white 1 (it has enough manganese and chromium in it - just a little - to harden in a fast quench oil -meaning it can be made into solid tools with some cross section. But it's far faster transitioning - or needs to cool much faster than O1 to get full hardness).

When it does, it's like a japanese chisel in solid form. Extremely crisp, the wire edge goes away on a middle stone and it has great edge strength....

....but OOOOOHHH the warp.

The two in the background, I"m keeping for me. The two in the foreground (there will be five total) will be for George - the only person who ever said "you know, you did OK, but if you did ____ instead on the next one, it would look much better". Of all of the makers I've ever known personally, none are remotely close to George. I won't ever make anything as good as anything George made, but the fact that I can make "ok nice things" is attributed to his sort of laying the obligation on me that even if I'm going to make things here or there, I could do them in a way that they're nice.

These taper from just under 0.25" thick to 0.11 at the tip, and the taper is curved on the top just so nobody with good eyes ever thinks they're common (the maker's mark is on the other side). The are probably about 63/64 hardness where I have them tempered without the brittleness that most lower carbon steels come with if you try to push them to that. The hardness allows them to take a super crisp edge (close to the buffer edge) off of a common washita stone, and they just cut so/so on a fine india, even though they don't have anything in them that's abrasion resistant other than iron carbides. The trace amount of chromium is used up to make the iron carbides harder and help the steel harden better without having to be quenched in brine.

In order to have something resembling straight, they have to start fat and be fat that hour of grinding on a ceramic belt freehand after hardening to get them to final shape. So as not to burn them, I handle them with bare hands and apply pressure with my bare fingertips and the backs of my fingers. Ceramic belts are kind of a wonder product if you can supply the speed they need to work right (like 2500fpm plus with the ability to apply pressure at that) - when they're fresh, you can do this without burning your hands and without going too slowly.

The one top left is near finished, just a little bit more hand finishing to go. The one bottom left needs hand finishing to clean up some of the lines, but I'll get that done. The last three will be a bear. Not sure if I'm going to make a full set for myself, but no sane person would ever make these for sale.

There is a lot that goes into these that has nothing to do with grinding or making a certain shape - in order to get the steel grain to be extremely fine. I think they are about as good as any parer that I've ever used, and better than the average by quite a bit. If I just used something like 1095 steel or O1, they would still be good, but the level of satisfaction when making them and then using them and comparing them to older chisels wouldn't be quite as high. There's no new western parer that comes remotely close. That sounds a bit pompous, but I'm more than familiar with making mediocre tools, and after making two hours of dust just rough shaping these the last couple of days, I'm willing to stick my neck out based on what it's taken to learn to do everything from forge thermal cycling to hardening and tempering and shaping to end up with a paring chisel that is pure sex to use, and not the least bit dainty feeling, nor clunky.

Gombeira - something I never heard of here (our wood - as far as exotics go - tends to come from mexico and central america).

Gombeira is also sold here as "brazilian ebony". It's an oddball wood. Both sticks (the handle and the blank next to it) are the same piece of wood. I cut it in half and turned this handle. It's like a creamy yellow color, and I put wax and shellac in a thin layer on the handle, so we'll see if it sun tans, but it oxidizes or tans very quickly in a thin layer on the outside and turns kind of a dull dark brown.

It feels like boxwood (it's denser than boxwood and harder than boxwood - it's maybe only a small step down from lignum, and about equal to verawood). It's not particularly dusty and will take a nice finish right off of a tool, and with very little follow up, a super thin layer of bright shiny shellac - it doesn't soak in at all, and this stick is bone dry).

Here in the US, it seems like we get the flavor of the month sometimes from Mex or central america, and sometimes from africa. Gombeira has been around in large amounts, and if you wanted to buy it commercially, you can get it cheap enough to make handles for about $2 each. indian rosewood costs me more like 5 (it's lovely, too - just two different woods).

It doesn't look like that much at this point in the picture other than I think the creamy color is interesting - but it doesn't last at all.

First blank I cut into was dark almost black on a layer about 2mm thick all around the blank, and then this yellow inside. I thought I had been scammed.

(as far as the type of wood, it's the same family as katalox).

Dry weight is about 1.1 times that of water, and despite the look of having some pores, it doesn't have any - that's the structure/appearance of the wood. Not sure what it really is.

Only turns about half as fast or less vs. rosewood with a skew, though - you just can't shove a tool into it too quickly, but it comes off smoothly and doesn't shatter in your face like verawood does.

(this chisel is one of the rejects that I'm keeping - george will make his own handles).

Not sure why a couple of spots on this one oxidized deep - could've been a tiny crack, but the entire handle will turn the color of that dot.

Only need to buy enough to make 1500 handles to get the commercial price :) It costs me about $4.50 a handle in retail 3x3x12 blanks.

I do love a good paring chisel! I have neither the patience nor skills to make anything like yours, David, but I was lucky to acquire some long, socketed New Haven chisels many years ago. I don't know if they were made for this purpose, but the shape is perfect for paring and their "offset" sockets give them lots of reach:
NH chisels.jpg

The steel must have a lot of Cr in it, they look almost like SS at first glance. Whatever the alloy is, it's hard & a bit brittle - these chisels are certainly not for pounding into hard wood, but they take a very keen edge which stands up to shaving end-grain on the toughest woods.

Don't know what the original handles were, it wasn't any of the fancy handle woods I'm familiar with, but they were not in great shape and one was missing, so I made new handles from Mulga (Acacia aneura), a dry-country species with extremely fine grain which feels very nice in the hand. I just love these chisels & almost look for excuses to use them!
Very nice 👌
Was it too hard a steel to stamp the initials?
hah.....the mark is on the underside. I can't remember why I decided to do that this time (I guess figuring that for george, if the strike isn't good on each, it's better that it doesn't show :) )

Once this stuff is bright orange, it forges really easily, though. Most of the very plain steels, even the ones that attain very high hardness, are easy forging (52100 and this come to mind - both can go very high hardness and work there, but both grind and forge really well).
I do love a good paring chisel! I have neither the patience nor skills to make anything like yours, David, but I was lucky to acquire some long, socketed New Haven chisels many years ago. I don't know if they were made for this purpose, but the shape is perfect for paring and their "offset" sockets give them lots of reach:
View attachment 117087

The steel must have a lot of Cr in it, they look almost like SS at first glance. Whatever the alloy is, it's hard & a bit brittle - these chisels are certainly not for pounding into hard wood, but they take a very keen edge which stands up to shaving end-grain on the toughest woods.

Don't know what the original handles were, it wasn't any of the fancy handle woods I'm familiar with, but they were not in great shape and one was missing, so I made new handles from Mulga (Acacia aneura), a dry-country species with extremely fine grain which feels very nice in the hand. I just love these chisels & almost look for excuses to use them!

Those are dandy, but they leave me with just as many questions as you.

I copied the English style chisels because they seemed accessible to being hand made in some volume (I think that's true - the parers are a pain, but I can make a set of five bench chisels in about 10 hours - they could be made faster to a lower standard and still be good chisels, but compared to making infill planes, 10 hours seems plenty fast).

As far as the look - I wonder if someone had a grinding and polishing setup that left the bright finish, or if it was a surface treatment. If they're really old and take a crisp edge, I'm not sure what they'd have in them (appreciable anything other than iron and carbon can spoil the grain size pretty quickly. Chromium added a little bit - up to even 1.5% like in 52100 changes properties drastically, and 52100 is the last I can think of in terms of very fine grained stuff.

But the enormous number of NY/CT/MA toolmakers that kind of ended as only a couple makes it tough to know what's what. New Haven is where Sargent and Jennings were (a quick google, I didn't know that). It's also where a rifle that I used to have (lever gun) was marked from (Marlin) and I think it's where Winchester was). Google chatter suggests New Haven and Jennings may be different brandings from the same place.

Patterns of chisels are kind of variable in my catalogs, and I've had (no longer have, though) long parers as long as the longest english parers with a socket. I'm just guessing that the fascination with socketed chisels in the US came from taking the skilled trades out and automating some of the processes.

Those look a treat, though - someone created a novel grinding process that makes the grind perfectly even on each one with a strong shoulder and fine edge. It's not easy to find great sets of anything in the US as the race to modernity left stuff tossed or neglected until probably somewhere around the 1980s when suddenly an antique market popped up for more than wagon wheels, crockery and guns.

Lots of older chisels polished like that here, though - will they rust? The crispness with the polish suggests that it was done in a machine kind of setup vs. by hand like a glazing.

At some point, it would be great if someone would take a bunch of these older chisels and have them XRFed so we could get an idea of what kind of steel was used. My experience with american types is that some are the equal of sheffield tools, and others (ohio tool comes to mind, etc) seem to have been using something cheaper than good tool steel because the irons are usable, but they're rarely good. I've had good luck with chisels that look like those, though.

Handles usually look like ash or apple, with a lot lacquered over with color to hide the grain on the ash types (if they're red/dark red, etc). A lot of mine haven't aged that well, some have. The ones that crumble feel like they're dry rotted - maybe they'd gotten wet a few too many times, and then hammer strikes tear up the tops. Always short handles, though, even on the parers.
(separately, I have a reprint of the 1895 montgomery ward catalog, and even by then, the tanged goods appear to just be English imports - only patternmakers gouges and carving tools were tanged - and there's not that much selection. ..

..correction - after a second view, there's one small listing of tanged firmers, but unbranded (and cheap). gouges and carving tools are listed, but any that are good are all English. They did a good job convincing people to pay almost twice as much for socketed chisels - I still don't get it, and apparently, Europeans didn't ,either.

can't find the public 1916 or so M-W catalog that was on google books - that had more tools in it and was more interesting viewing - and would've been linkable here - lots of chisels of your style in it in varying lengths and the English stuff was gone by then).
Found it -1916 M-W catalog. slider page 976 (actual catalog page 894)
I should've thought a little harder - the non-fruitwood handles are hickory, and not ash. They do show still a couple of listings of tanged chisels in the middle (I missed those before. Mostly buck brothers - which would've been american by then. English carving tools unlisted).

Page before, lots of Lakeside brand tools. I have had a couple of lakeside chisels (no planes), but never impressed with them, and the listings give a clue why - they look like they're made by union tool (never was much of a fan of union planes, either - they're OK, but just OK compared to stanley).

This catalog is far more interesting than mine (earlier 1895), though. Figure a skilled union wage at this point was about $3 a day if you want to get an idea of how many days' work it takes to buy anything in the catalog. A good quality garden hose was two days of pay - no wonder people carried stuff in buckets.

The 1895 catalog only has a few electrical things in it, and they're battery powered ("home plating kit"...mmmmm toxic metals, doorbells, medical quackery devices and personal fans - no guards back then, of course. The batteries are large glass jars.).

....several honing guides and a paul sellers-esque something for nothing tool in the middle of the chisel page, too - a "gauge" to hold a 3/4th inch chisel to try to use it as a plane - 14 cents.

The contrast of factory fabricated goods compared to more hand made stuff in the 1895 catalog is really extreme - just 20 years (the 1895 catalog kind of leaves you understanding why nobody had much of anything before industrialization - you could be out a full month's pay for a cast iron stove and still need one for the kitchen. Want decent gloves? Got it - full day's pay. Decent coat? Full day's pay. Dressy coat? could be closer to a week. ) We have it pretty easy now.
The second handle turned for the "reject pair" - the one on the left is from late yesterday - already starting to oxidize and change color a little bit. The dark cylinder is a couple of months turned to get that dark.

The feel and sound of the handles is like super hard plastic - dead smooth, high pitch "clink" and you can set the handle on the tang banging the handle on an an engineering stone surface (one of those chinese reference plate things) and it leaves no mark at all.
ur knowledge astounds me.....
always an interesting read....

the only thing I ever done with a cutting edge was a bench mounted shear/guillotine for cutting small section metal ie 2"x 1/8 etc...for ornimental work.....
I bought the 6" tool with a broken top blade.....
made a new one from a busted truck leaf spring....
worked really well for years.....
nothing in comparison with your work tho....

If I win the lottery I'll get u to make me a few items.....

impart more knowledge please....
oh, I could just go on at length about how to try to get furnace-like results in a forge as far as heat treatment and temperature control by eye, but I suspect most folks would not ever get into it (I did torture another forum with samples of steel that I cycled and then snapped to get the grain size, and I probably reposted it here - can't remember).

There just isn't that much good information about doing this kind of stuff, likely because not many people really want to do it. Anyone getting serious into knives (which is where most of the market is for new well treated steel at high dollar figures) will get a furnace and follow schedules or addendums provided by metallurgists, but I'm resisting that - it presents a great challenge. And at the same time, trying to do it by hand and eye so as not to get slotted into the looks or proportions of something to meet tooling and jigs.

I can say enough to suggest that the better of the japanese and english chisels (for slightly different reasons) are about as good as a chisel can be. There are some of both that aren't that great, and quite a few on the japanese side that come up a little short of what they could be, often for simple reasons.

Learning about the making and doing it mostly the hard way has been illuminating in terms of what's great in chisels (good strength, enough toughness - but not too much, and reasonably high hardness with that combination, and very little in terms of abrasion resistance) and plane irons (varies depending on how much abrasion resistance someone needs). I'm not a fan of much of anything with tons of abrasion resistance, but a little manganese, a small amount of chromium and a small amount of vanadium is a nice thing for making a fine grained steel that feels like "plain carbon steel" (the true plain carbon steels with no additives are a bear to get as good - which may explain why white steel is often just decent and not world beating - even from the makers who have supposedly mastered it).
David, I have tried to research the New Haven Edge tool Co., but can find precious little info on line. It seems they were a company that mostly made tools for others to sell under their own brand-names, so relatively few carried the NHET Co. stamp.
I acquired these chisels in the early 80s when I was living in Canada. They were bought by a (non woodworker) friend at a farm clearing sale & later given to me. He'd bid on a lot not realising the chisels were part of it, & got the whole kaboodle, for the princely sum of $2. There were 5 chisels in all, ranging from 1/4" to 1 1/4", in a shallow wooden tray, mixed with decades of dirt and sundry items like nuts & bolts & so forth. Some have been used a lot, with an inch of blade or maybe more gone on the two largest, while the 2 smallest sizes (1/4 & 3/8) seem to have had very little use at all, their lands fine down to almost sharp edges at the tip and they had near-pristine handles. The 1 1/4" had lost its handle long ago but that didn't worry farmer Fred too much, the socket was bashed & belled & needed much careful tidying-up so I could fit a new handle. Your suggestion of Hickory for the original handles sounds good. It isn't Apple, as I first thought, I made handles for the missing/damaged ones from Apple but it was clearly not a match for the originals.

The blades have been polished, but not by putting them in a tumbler with abrasive grit as a certain modern maker does (why?! :dunno: ). The edges of my chisels are quite crisp (or were, a 100 plus years have left their mark). There are numerous shallow corrosion marks on them, the wriggly worm-like things I associate with "chrome-vanadium" steels. The sockets have been forged by hand & unlike my LN bench chisels, each one is subtly different externally & each handle had to be individually sized to fit its socket.

There was no 3/4" in the "set", it must have gone AWOL before the sale, or got itself in some other auction lot. It's a size I use a lot, so I searched for years to find one, with no luck, the best I could find is marked "Essex" - another brand I can find little about. It is different in minor details but close enough to the NHs that it looks quite at home amongst them. A Swan 1 1/2" I stumbled on also has an offset socket & matches well, but the two little ones at left (~1/8 & ~3/16) are unknown brands, with more symmetrical sockets:

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I see the socket variation - I'd love to have seen the operation back when those were made as it was probably novel and a combination of the sockets vary some. All of the older socket chisls that I have still have kind of wonky sockets (not the point of being problematic, but that the wall thickness isn't perfectly symmetrical and some are a little rough inside (maybe all).

I'm guessing they had a machine to swage the socket hot rather than machining it like Lie Nielsen does, but it's hard to tell as some of the roughness now could be corrosion (maybe a lot of it).

I'd bet also that they had a wheel polishing setup with a hard wheel that could work those chisels over quickly without rounding the edges off, keeping them neat but bringing them to a high finish. The market was more demanding back then than it is for the two cherries special roundover.

The day of the $2 auction box is still here, but what's in it has changed now!! Not much. Bed springs and maybe some junk. My father collects oil cans and almost all of his came from what we refer to as "quarter boxes" - the local auction (quarter could be a quarter, or it could be a few bucks if someone bids it up - stuff that the auction service deems not worth selling individually). Ebay has pretty much killed the surprise - if anything is good, the service picks it out and what's in the boxes now is truly junk (and thus there's less at the auction in general and fewer going to them - too bad).

I grew up in east central PA - there are still a couple of dealers there (one who is prolific) pulling chisels out of auctions and public sales and selling them reasonable. Early on, I wanted stanley chisels and whatever else I could match the name of and learned quickly that there are probably about 30 names (and it'll seemingly never be known which ones are the same chisels with different marks, and which are different chisels where one maker copied another). But the top line tools are usually pretty good, with some notable nuances. Buck chisels are always fine, but almost always a little soft (except the patternmaker's tools, and then those aren't soft). Stanley tools are a little soft. Witherby are a little soft by our standards (but good). PS&W are generally a little less soft. Inevitably, when you find a brand listed as a second line brand in an old catalog and you've had experience with some of the tools, a light goes off "yeah, that wasn't really that great". Sargent and Union didn't make irons as good as stanleys. I don't know why - I guess it was cost cutting. Ohio tool's irons were another notch down (even in their metal planes). They just aren't very good and I think for the price they charged for their planes (a full set of double iron wooden planes was about the same in the m-w catalog as a single stanley #5), there just wasn't the budget for steel that would match something like I. Sorby or Ward or Mathieson. But machine planing took over here by the mid 1800s and that was the end of it for good quality wooden planes. If you get to the early 1800s (much harder to find) in american makers, they're a lot more like English planes.

Beyond that, there's the side issue of maybe new haven did make just their own labeled chisels, but perhaps it was never a really big market for them, and kitchen knives, butcher knives and land clearing tools were their bread and butter.

Once you get into straight razors, it gets even more confusing, but they generally weren't that great until around the same time that hand planes were becoming spot work and finishing tools. (late 1800s is when the industrial makers started learning to make double hollow razors in quantity - before that, they're forgettable - like the older wade and butcher razors, and other cutlers - they look neat, but not in a class with later razors.

Lastly - Chrome vanadium - I know what chrome vanadium is now, but it's hard to tell what it would've been when they were figuring out the details. For example, chrome vanadium now generally refers to steel where the chromium and vanadium are tied up in iron carbides and grain refinement and hardenability (But there's little in the steel in terms of free carbides that would grow large). Chromium improves hardenability a little bit and vanadium pins grain size (so if it's overheated industrially a little bit, the grain won't grow resulting in brittle chippy tools). Vanadium also improves peak hardness (I guess in combination with the iron carbides) somewhat - a point or two. So, if it's "done right" like silver steel rod, it's not felt at all. When vanadium or chromium are increases above a fraction of a percent, then things go sideways for woodworkers.

Here's 26c3
The steel on the right is white #1 - which is "ultra plain" and may not harden that well in quench oils unless it's really thin. A contrast to 26c3 would be 52100, which has enough chromium in it to be more wear resistant (it's about 1.1% carbon and 1.5% chromium), but also to drastically improve toughness. It's crazy tough to the point of being a detriment for woodworking tools at normal hardness - when a defect occurs, it won't let go of it. You could take a full hardness chisel of 52100 and bend it over in a vise and bend it back. It wouldn't be good for it, but it generally won't break.

So it gets really hard to tell what Chrome vanadium means - I would guess based on cost, folks overdid it with the chromium first. IF they overdo it with vanadium, tools become seemingly unsharpenable on normal stones pretty quickly and then grind really slowly.

1080CrV2 would be something that would work well industrially - it's barely above the eutectoid limit, it has a little bit of chromium and a little bit of vanadium. In my opinion, it comes up a little short of being ideal for woodworking tools because you can feel fine edge holding (and initial sharpness), and that's tied to carbon. When something like 80crV2 is driven to higher hardness, the fine edge holding isn't that great, but it's better steel than much of the consumer knife and tool world uses at this point (most of that is probably closer to 0.6%).
You can see 1084 compared to 80crv2 - it might be hard to tell which is which in use, but 80crV2 probably hardens a little better and resists grain growth in heat treat. I think both would be classified as water hardening steel (that you actually treat in a fast quench oil, else you provided a pretty good example of what happens in water). 80crV2 trades a little manganese for chromium and a tiny bit of vanadium. If I had to guess (I like 1084 - never bought 80crv2 - it's a "tough" knife steel), the vanadium keeps the grain size pinned small and the chromium improves toughness a little over 1084. But for woodworkers, 1084 is already twice as tough as it would need to be in the first place.

Looking to the right of that chart, CruForge is a steel that kind of pooped out. Just the increase to 0.75% vanadium made knife makers despise it because it's harder to finish a knife for not very much edge holding in return. There's just a little free vanadium carbides, but they batter belts and sharpening media, and to my knowledge, there aren't any inexpensive diamond belts - ceramic alumina are kind of the "fast" belts in terms of making tools and even on stainless steels, they are consumed twice as fast (like XHP/V11).

I'm interested in this stuff only for two reasons - one, getting certain properties out of tools, and 2, the heat treatment aspect. As soon as there's free chromium or vanadium, I can't normalize the steel or do an approximation in an open forge (PM steels of good quality kind of provide an end around if you can just get them really hot quickly and quench, but there's not much room for error and they're *really* expensive. XHP (which I suspect is V11) costs $330 for a 6x36 sheet ground .094" thick. (no clue why 80crv2 isn't cheaper than it is on that site, but maybe it's not that cheap in general)

And lastly, since i'm running on - I'd bet the reason for stuff like 80crV2 is to eliminate cost in the heat treatment time and labor and accuracy. Same with lots of other steels. There's plenty of "1095" being sold in knives in the US that isn't actually 1095. It's a similar alloy with crV added to make it friendlier to work with (more forgiving in heat, quench and temper), and since the crV is too little to be floating around free (it gets matched up with carbon, etc), nobody can tell the difference in the finished knives. The industrial stuff is less available to the average person buying stock, though - 1084 and 1095 is very easy to find and *very* cheap. I'm a little jealous of the ability to get stuff like BS1407 in England (chrome manganese "silver steel"), because it's not really available here reasonably and I suspect it's what I'd like to use to make chisels. There's a cross to DIN 1.2210 in Europe with some vanadium added.

26c3 is great, but the carbon may be a touch high for chisels, so it only makes sense to use it if chasing upper hardness where that makes a difference. Most people don't like their tools that hard, even if they say they do.

Aside of all of that, the two steels that I'd use if I were making tools and not wanting to do much other than heat and quench the steel, though, would be O1 and 1084. I've gotten very good results from them doing nothing other than heating them and quench and temper (26c3 likes a thermal cycle based on test mules that I've made - for planes, the difference in properties is meaningless, but 26c3 and white steel don't make sense for western plane irons, anyway, because they have almost no abrasion resistance and have to be driven to higher hardness to try to even match something like O1).
I've mostly finished this set (the rejects shown separately - just to illustrate how dark gombeira gets and how quickly - actually, it'll get a near dark chocolate brown - and if it has a thick wax on it, it'll get extremely dark almost to the point of looking uniform).

So, the set itself (just a little finish work - I've gotten better already at hardening these things straight, but really need a deep quench tank to do everything I want to do). LOTs of post heat treat grinding so as not to make them have surfaces that would induce warping in the quench.

(pictures came out in unexpected order - top picture is testing the narrowest chisel with a temporary file handle), then a close up - no good if the chisel chips or leaves any line, but none of these do).

And then the set of five at the bottom (just an hour or so of faffing with cosmetic bits to make them all look the same. These will be made completely without black bits other than the back of the bolster - not something I usually do. I like that black part left on, but it wasn't possible to do that with some of them - it's less work to leave it on, and it is rust protectant, anyway).

two "rejects" that I'm keeping shown last - same handle on one of them as the cream colored handle at the top of this thread. The one is only not darker than it is because it was in a completely dark area - the brown color is two days worth of oxidizing from the cream color shown above (or not even oxidizing at this point, I guess sun-tanning or whatever you'd call it).
my apologies to anyone who already saw them in the "last thing you made" thread.
You guys will never guess what kind of high end setup I came up with to get more length in the forge without giving up the temp control that you get with two small torches (vs. one large forge that can have too much heat, but at not high enough temperature, along with cold spots from unburned propane, etc).


wait for it...

.....stainless exhaust pipe - 5" in diameter. I want to heat the chisels from the back to the front as they're thicker in the back, so it literally is nothing but a length of exhaust pipe lined with refractory blanket. It worked a treat. In the spirit of nothing being cheap, it cost $70 with shipping :confused: But when It showed up, I gathered why. A full length exhaust of this stuff would probably be 100 pounds. No clue why it's so heavy.

I have a proper stainless steel two burner propane forge, but it suffers a little from lack of touch to me and when it gets heated, the amount of radiant heat that it puts out is almost intolerable. It's like turning brass screws with an SDS rotary hammer - it's just not that pleasant for small jobs, and there's really no reason I need it - it's now handy only for big heavy things or annealing a whole bunch of old steel at once - which is almost never now that I'm not using old files.

The refractory blanket is near magic stuff - it's such a good insulator that you can hold onto the back side of it while the other side is bright with radiant heat, and it's relatively inexpensive (if the cutting torch gets close to it when heating the bolster, though, like when you have ot lay it down quick and set the weld, it cuts right through it, and the borax eats it, too (or whatever the borax becomes after it's burned). But it allows you to quickly line anything and turn it into a very effective forge.
thanks for all your analysis, dw.

I have found similar effects while simply going though my (too many) chisels doing a mass sharpen -- the socketed US types don't seem to be taking quite the edge of the classic Ward or Sorby etc. (haven't yet got on go some socket Marples made in the 20s-50s in the American style).

Some of the best edges of all are the massive old laminated steel English socketed chisels - not designed at all for paring

On the other hand I love the style of cabinet handled English screwdrivers but the steel doesn't seem right and the wood "cabinet"-handled Stanleys of the 50s-70s (with a horrible black paint that looks bad and cracks) seem to be of just the right steel - resist bending and edge damage - maybe in this case a Cr V is the choice. (ps these ae Stanley Sheffield)
I was looking into 'Crucible' steel the other night. Mainly down to sudden thought/boredom.

I was wondering if the blades in some of my older planes that have Finest Crucible Steel stamped on them would display the patternation often seen on Damascus or Wootz steels.And if treating the blades with light acids like acetic would bring it out. But I'm not sure as I think its down to the cooling process rather than just the steel itself, and those steels are different in their make up, and also the original recipe is something thats been lost
Agree on the bolster. The way everyone makes chisels now (generally something ground stuffed into a handle), I guess it's hard to make that part.

If someone wanted to contract to have blanks die forged in Europe and sent over, they could hand finish and commercially heat treat super dandy chisels.

Though I have no idea how much it would cost to get the chisels forged in the first place in blanks that could be hand ground. I guess you'd have to buy 5000 of them. We can use a press or hammer to stamp lawn mower decks here and inexpensive hardware store chisels (if that buck brothers operation is still going), but doing it for higher end tools is a bridge too far.

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