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Precise and Imprecise Tools?

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woodbloke66

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Following on from the current thread on Accurate Angles, 'dzj' mentioned that ;
'Precise hand tools are often also costly'
...to which MikeG sought clarification and some sort of definition maybe? The interesting discussion that followed started me thinking (difficult at the best of times :D ) about an example(s) which might go some way to explain 'djz's statement.
The thought that occurred to me was regarding chisels, which Mike mentioned specifically somewhere in the thread. If one were to look at the Veritas and LN offerings, looking just at the long edges of the blade;

VeritasChiselReview_html_m819b234.jpg


...to my mind, these are precision chisels capable of precise work, especially where one is used to pare away the internal corners of a dovetail. I make the assumption that the machining and grinding process to obtain that very fine edge along the blade is tricky to set up and therefore costly.
Compare those to a Marples chisel chosen at random from a G search ...

marples-woodworking-chisel-1427.jpg


...and we can see that the grinding along the side is much less precise, so you wouldn't choose these for delicate dovetail work. As the grinding is 'cruder' ( for want of a better term) along the edge, I again make the assumption that it's a less expensive process and thus the tool is less expensive, notwithstanding the other features of the LN & V chisels which add to their cost.

There are probably other examples, but this one seemed to me to be pretty straightforward - Rob
 

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MikeG.

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Straightforward indeed, Rob, but fallacious. Those expensive chisels do the job no better than ordinary chisels, so long as they are both sharp. I've used both, and results were indistinguishable, even though the tools themselves were very distinguishable. But no matter, interesting as this is, it doesn't in any way answer the question of what a precise or imprecise hand tool is, or is not. The claim was that some tools are inherently more precise than others (and this seemed to be in some sort of correlation with their cost), and for the life of me I can't see how anyone can sustain such a claim. I'm not arguing for argument's sake: I am genuinely at a loss to understand the point.

I have a cheap no-name tenon saw, bought in about 1979 or 80. When it is sharp I can cut as precisely with that as I could with the expensive Japanese saw I tried for a week, or the Rob Cosman £100-a-tooth (I exaggerate) tenon saw I borrowed from a friend a few years back out of interest. They all did exactly as good a job as each other. They were all precise. There is nothing inherent in any (undamaged) tenon saw which makes it any more or less precise in its results than any other (obviously there are huge differences in how long they retain an edge, for instance, or in the quality of the handles). In terms of the job they do they are indistinguishable, so DJZ's comment that I know obviously the difference between precise and imprecise hand tools has me absolutely flumoxed.
 

woodbloke66

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MikeG.":6oua3ipo said:
Straightforward indeed, Rob, but fallacious. Those expensive chisels do the job no better than ordinary chisels, so long as they are both sharp.
I beg to differ, Mike, but you appear not to have read wot I writ :lol:. Both chisels will obviously do a decent job for ordinary stuff at the bench, but I specifically mentioned 'where one is used to pare away the internal corners of a dovetail'
To my limited way of thinking, you need a precisely ground chisel (ie the LV or the V) to get into the internal corners of a dovetail, whereas the other one, fine though it is, simply ain't up to that particular job, therefore it's not such a precise tool for that particular purpose - Rob
 

Jacob

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woodbloke66":38qrld13 said:
[.....Both chisels will obviously do a decent job for ordinary stuff at the bench, but I specifically mentioned 'where one is used to pare away the internal corners of a dovetail'
To my limited way of thinking, you need a precisely ground chisel (ie the LV or the V) to get into the internal corners of a dovetail, whereas the other one, fine though it is, simply ain't up to that particular job, therefore it's not such a precise tool for that particular purpose - Rob
Easy enough to grind the bevel edge a touch to improve a chisel for DT corners. Only needs to be done 1/2" or so. I've got several old ones like that done a long time ago. No need to blow £50 on a Neilsen, just a few minutes work is all you need.
 

beech1948

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A cheeky thought.

Are Lee Neilson and Veritas ( now both quite expensive) the male equivalent to jewellery. That bought as much for their aesthetic properties as to show the world what a discerning woodworker the owners are.

Or Not.
 

woodbloke66

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Jacob":3j3eifit said:
woodbloke66":3j3eifit said:
[.....Both chisels will obviously do a decent job for ordinary stuff at the bench, but I specifically mentioned 'where one is used to pare away the internal corners of a dovetail'
To my limited way of thinking, you need a precisely ground chisel (ie the LV or the V) to get into the internal corners of a dovetail, whereas the other one, fine though it is, simply ain't up to that particular job, therefore it's not such a precise tool for that particular purpose - Rob
Easy enough to grind the bevel edge a touch to improve a chisel for DT corners. Only needs to be done 1/2" or so. I've got several old ones like that done a long time ago. No need to blow £50 on a Neilsen, just a few minutes work is all you need.
Fair enoughski Jacob, you're turning an ordinary chisel into a more precise and specialised tool (for that particular job) and saved a wedge for your back pocket. Win, win :lol: - Rob
 

lurker

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Rob,
Your so called precise tool has been ground to do a specific job, as you go on to detail.
Your so called imprecise tool will probably be better than the former as a general purpose chisel, and thus perfectly (precisely) perform its intended function.

Your examples have nothing to do with precision and everything to do with form and function.
 

MikeG.

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woodbloke66":omwczbri said:
MikeG.":omwczbri said:
Straightforward indeed, Rob, but fallacious. Those expensive chisels do the job no better than ordinary chisels, so long as they are both sharp.
I beg to differ, Mike, but you appear not to have read wot I writ :lol:. Both chisels will obviously do a decent job for ordinary stuff at the bench, but I specifically mentioned 'where one is used to pare away the internal corners of a dovetail'
To my limited way of thinking, you need a precisely ground chisel (ie the LV or the V) to get into the internal corners of a dovetail, whereas the other one, fine though it is, simply ain't up to that particular job, therefore it's not such a precise tool for that particular purpose - Rob
No, no Rob. Any small chisel, skewed, will get into the corner of a dovetail. If for some reason it doesn't, use a knife. Limiting one chisels use compared to another one isn't making that chisel any the less precise. It may make it less useful, but it is no less precise.........which has been my issue with discussion from the start.

Anyway, the LV and LN chisels aren't ground any more precisely than the bog standard Marples, they are just ground to a different shape.
 

MikeG.

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beech1948":i5brp6gk said:
A cheeky thought.

Are Lee Neilson and Veritas ( now both quite expensive) the male equivalent to jewellery. That bought as much for their aesthetic properties as to show the world what a discerning woodworker the owners are.

Or Not.
Absobloodylutely! :lol:
 

woodbloke66

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MikeG.":39znwgk3 said:
No, no Rob. Any small chisel, skewed, will get into the corner of a dovetail. If for some reason it doesn't, use a knife. Limiting one chisels use compared to another one isn't making that chisel any the less precise. It may make it less useful, but it is no less precise.........which has been my issue with discussion from the start.

Anyway, the LV and LN chisels aren't ground any more precisely than the bog standard Marples, they are just ground to a different shape.
No Mike, it won't. When the base of your dovetail pin is 4mm and you've got a 3mm chisel, it's virtually impossible to skew the chisel; you have to go in square. I would also say that yep, they are ground differently, but the LN and V chisels are ground more precisely because it's a virtual knife edge all the way along the length of the blade - Rob
 

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beech1948":1j9f48zo said:
A cheeky thought.

Are Lee Neilson and Veritas ( now both quite expensive) the male equivalent to jewellery. That bought as much for their aesthetic properties as to show the world what a discerning woodworker the owners are.

Or Not.
Personally I think brand loyalty comes into tool purchases for a lot of people it certainly does for me when buying a new tool, knowing I’m buying a tool from a quality manufacturer with a good reputation gives me peace of mind that I won’t be buying twice which has certainly happened to me in the past.
I’m not saying every cheap tool is a poor tool but there is a lot of rubbish out there so for me buying from a known reliable source makes sense, not that my money stretches to Lie Nielsen.
 

MikeG.

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woodbloke66":3apv8l2w said:
........No Mike, it won't. When the base of your dovetail pin is 4mm and you've got a 3mm chisel, it's virtually impossible to skew the chisel; you have to go in square. I would also say that yep, they are ground differently, but the LN and V chisels are ground more precisely because it's a virtual knife edge all the way along the length of the blade - Rob
That still doesn't make the grinding more precise. It makes the grinding a different shape, that's all. Precision is measured against what shape you are aiming for, and it is perfectly possible therefore that Marples are within half a gnat's of the line they were aiming for, whilst LN/ LV are a whole gnat's away from their (different) line they were aiming for. That would make the Marples more precise than the competition, despite having a thicker edge than the LN/ LV chisels.

In the real world, one sizes ones dovetails to suit the tools one owns. I've never cut a pin 4mm wide. If anyone did, it would surely be in a very thin board, and so an ordinary Marples would get into the corners virtually square on anyway because the grind on the cutting edge would allow the chisel in 2 or 3mm each side from each face.
 

woodbloke66

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MikeG.":1wve7y7s said:
I've never cut a pin 4mm wide. If anyone did, it would surely be in a very thin board, and so an ordinary Marples would get into the corners virtually square on anyway because the grind on the cutting edge would allow the chisel in 2 or 3mm each side from each face.
I have, frequently;

IMG_2680.jpg


No way on earth you'd get a chunky Marples chisel or similar into those dovetail pins and they are 4mm 'cos I measured them :lol: - Rob
 

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Cheshirechappie

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Not sure that 'precise' is the right word in this context. Maybe 'appropriate' or perhaps 'fit for purpose'.

Thus, the Marples chisel is appropriate for site work in a way that the LN isn't, and the LN is appropriate for fine cabinetmaking in a way the Marples isn't. The Marples is designed to be a general purpose wood chisel, the LN is designed to be a cabinetmaker's bench chisel. Both are fit for their intended purpose, but neither is ideal for the purpose the other is designed for.
 

katellwood

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If I may, I have an abundance of jewelry (or alternatively a rolex or breitling) :D





and they get used a lot

If I go on site I take my old timex



however for fine dovetails I use these







and stored right next to the bench



I found that when dovetailing I always gripped the tool close to the cutting edge and normal length chisels a bit unwieldy (if the joint requires paring i revert to the jewels). These fit the bill perfectly for dovetails

They are just lengths of high speed steel flattened on a diamond plate then shaped on a grinder.

They sharpen to a fine edge and maintain it for a long time. and best of all they cost pennies

would they be classed as precise or imprecise???
 

MikeG.

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How thick are the boards?

As I said, you cut your joints to suit the tools you have at your disposal, so if I was joining those boards they would have bigger pins. And, as I said, if I couldn't get into the corners with a chisel, I'd pick up my knife. And as I also said..........none of this speaks to the precision of your chisels, or my chisels. It shows they possibly have different limitations, but says nothing at all about their precision.
 

Cheshirechappie

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beech1948":1vnxxv7n said:
A cheeky thought.

Are Lee Neilson and Veritas ( now both quite expensive) the male equivalent to jewellery. That bought as much for their aesthetic properties as to show the world what a discerning woodworker the owners are.

Or Not.
There's a very long history of 'gentleman's tools' - the catalogues going back into the mid 19th century and earlier list tools with fancy rosewood handles and the like, usually sold at higher prices than the best quality 'utilitarian' tools that waged craftsmen tended to prefer. Some firms did little else - Holtzappfel and Co made complex and beautiful ornamental turning lathes and their accessories, sold pretty well exclusively to 'gentlemen'. So it's by no means a new phenomenon!
 

Lonsdale73

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MikeG.":1azl92eq said:
Straightforward indeed, Rob, but fallacious. Those expensive chisels do the job no better than ordinary chisels, so long as they are both sharp. I've used both, and results were indistinguishable, even though the tools themselves were very distinguishable. But no matter, interesting as this is, it doesn't in any way answer the question of what a precise or imprecise hand tool is, or is not. The claim was that some tools are inherently more precise than others (and this seemed to be in some sort of correlation with their cost), and for the life of me I can't see how anyone can sustain such a claim. I'm not arguing for argument's sake: I am genuinely at a loss to understand the point.

I have a cheap no-name tenon saw, bought in about 1979 or 80. When it is sharp I can cut as precisely with that as I could with the expensive Japanese saw I tried for a week, or the Rob Cosman £100-a-tooth (I exaggerate) tenon saw I borrowed from a friend a few years back out of interest. They all did exactly as good a job as each other. They were all precise. There is nothing inherent in any (undamaged) tenon saw which makes it any more or less precise in its results than any other (obviously there are huge differences in how long they retain an edge, for instance, or in the quality of the handles). In terms of the job they do they are indistinguishable, so DJZ's comment that I know obviously the difference between precise and imprecise hand tools has me absolutely flumoxed.
Flip side to the old adage about a bad worker blaming his tools; a skilled worker can achieve good results with even the most basic tools. Not that I'm a skilled worker.
 

dzj

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I was under the impression that MikeG was trolling a bit, so I abstained from answering. :)
Anyway, my comment to the OP in that thread was made considering that she was seeking an inexpensive solution for her mitred corners problem. My assumption was that she was an inexperienced woodworker. As such, fettling an inexpensive plane was not an option. Going down the sharpening rabbit hole was also under question. So I suggested a small disk sander. Lidl, for instance, sells one for 50 Euros. Coupled with that saw she already has, I doubt that in her circumstances there is a cheaper and simpler solution.

As to the matter of precision tools. The closest definition I could find was that of a precision instrument. The Cambridge Dictionary says it's ' a tool that can be controlled very accurately so that it produces very accurate results.'
Out of the box, an inexpensive Stanley knock-off, will seldom produce accurate results.
So, I'd say that is an imprecise tool.
Can it be made to work? Maybe.
Although sometimes, even the more knowledgeable woodworker will relegate it to a door stop, claiming that life is too short.
 

shed9

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dzj":zvwscyt2 said:
I was under the impression that MikeG was trolling a bit, so I abstained from answering. :)
+1 and no, not trying to fan the flames just cautious of it turning into something other than the topic.
dzj":zvwscyt2 said:
As to the matter of precision tools. The closest definition I could find was that of a precision instrument. The Cambridge Dictionary says it's ' a tool that can be controlled very accurately so that it produces very accurate results.'
Out of the box, an inexpensive Stanley knock-off, will seldom produce accurate results.
So, I'd say that is an imprecise tool.
Can it be made to work? Maybe.
I would subscribe to that and add that consistency in accuracy is what further defines precision (IMO)
 

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