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SeaSteel

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I am fairly new to woodworking and use an old set of Stanley chisels I have had for years and were really abused. I have renovated them but feel I need a better quality set. I don’t want to spend silly money can anyone recommend a decent set?
 

Woody2Shoes

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I am fairly new to woodworking and use an old set of Stanley chisels I have had for years and were really abused. I have renovated them but feel I need a better quality set. I don’t want to spend silly money can anyone recommend a decent set?
When you say better quality, what type of 'old Stanley' chisels have you got, and what is it about them that you'd hope to improve? What sort of work do you do with them and what sort of budget are you thinking of?
 

SeaSteel

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They are about 30 years old with polyethylene handles bought from B&Q they were left in the farm shed and rusted up. I have cleaned and sharpened them with a 30 degree secondary bevel but fell they are shall we say past their best. I am trying to make simple “stuff” and master joints using hand tools. I am not that great at the moment but improving. I bit the splashed out on a veritable dove tail saw which has vastly improved things but the chisel work is now the sticky part.
 

Jameshow

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Narex if you want them to feel nice but I doubt they will work any better than your Stanley's

Cheers James
 

Cheshirechappie

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Firstly, welcome to the forum!

Something I've learned the hard way is that buying 'sets' is usually a mistake. You end up using two or three tools a lot, a couple occasionally, and some not at all. Thus, I'd suggest buying just three nice chisels, a small, a medium and a largish, the sizes being the ones you find yourself using frequently from the Stanleys. Use those three for a few weeks, and with that experience work out what gaps need filling. (I suspect most experienced workers use maybe two small, say 1/8"/3mm, 1/4"/6mm, two medium, say 3/8"/10mm and 5/8"/16mm and one large, say 1" or 1 1/4", even if they have a dozen to choose from.) That will, of course, depend on whether you make jewellery boxes or castle gates, though!

For joint cutting by hand methods in solid woods, look for bevelled-edge chisels with fine lands - ones with almost a trapezoidal cross-section, rather than the sort that are almost rectangular in section with just the top corners knocked off. Ashley Iles make well-regarded ones, and some people swear by their Lie-Nielsens or Stanley Sweethearts, but there are plenty of other brands, and good vintage chisels are well worth looking for, too.

For mortice and tenon joints, the fine bevelled edge chisels won't be ideal, though you may find that the current Stanleys serve well enough. Look for a proper mortice chisel of the size you use most (probably 1/4"/6mm or 5/16"/8mm, if your work tends to furniture, maybe 1/2"/12mm if you're more joinery orientated). Again, just buy one, then supplement it later as you need.

The "just a few" approach allows you to spend a bit more on each tool, so you'll end up with a smaller kit of quality tools that actually fill your needs, rather than a lot of indifferent tools of which you use only a few. Spreads the cost, too - just buy good tools as you find you need them. Less of a storage and maintenance problem, too!
 

smackie

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All of this is good advice. Without opening the usual Pandora’s Big Box Of Sharpening Techniques I’d probably recommend spending any extra money on a couple of nice diamond sharpening blocks (400 and 1000 to start with) and practice getting those old Stanleys eyewateringly sharp.

I’ve got a load of chisels, from the 1920s thru until modern day. All of them are rubbish unless sharp. My first chisels were a set of poly-handled beveled Stanleys from B&Q in the 80s. Still got them and they’re absolutely fine when polished to an inch of their lives.
 

Ttrees

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I just don't get fancy chisels, I use a modern Stanley set, and even a heavy Tesco one on hard African timbers, does me fine.
You likely know this already, that the Egyptians used copper chisels on stone.

Having a guess at this, so apologies if I'm not correct with your issue,
but I wouldn't expect any chisel to hold up to 'abuse'
which to me sounds like what's happening, (if they are indeed sharp)

What I mean by abuse is sinking the bevel (full depth of it or close to it)
in something hard and not clear pine, without having somewhere for the waste to go.
So if cutting a mortise, starting out small chops until you have some sort of a hole made, and if chopping waste of a tenon or dovetail.
Have a look at the term 'tenting'
Basically it means not undercutting the work, but the opposite to stop the chisel sinking too deep in the work (which likely would make you cut well past your line anyway)
SAM_3724.JPG

SAM_3733.JPG

Or not starting out making deep chops vertically.
You will be able to chisel deeper if there is less force from the waste side of the bevel.

Tom
 
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SeaSteel

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Many thanks to you all for the great advice!!
I understand the need for sharpening technique and have invested in quite a good system with the finest stone at 8000 grit. I think I will on balance sharpen the old Stanley chisels to attempt redeem them so as to say. But I suspect my chiselling technique is less than optimal.
 

eribaMotters

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40 years ago I got a set of Stanley blue handle chisels and they have served me well. The 5001 Black Handle were the next level up, but obviously more expensive and out of my range. Over the years as they have worn shorter I'd thought about replacing them, but never got around to it.
About 10 years ago I ordered several sets of Kirschen/Two Cherries bevel edge chisels for school where I taught Technology. They looked a bit shiny and the varnished handles tacky, but they cut superbly and held there keen edge well, which is no mean achievement with teenagers.
If I was going to replace my Stanley I would search a set out with nicer handles and finish.

Colin
 

Cabinetman

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Many thanks to you all for the great advice!!
I understand the need for sharpening technique and have invested in quite a good system with the finest stone at 8000 grit. I think I will on balance sharpen the old Stanley chisels to attempt redeem them so as to say. But I suspect my chiselling technique is less than optimal.
I hesitated and thought about saying this as I know it will start off the old stupid debate, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you haven’t used that 8000 grit stone send it back, it might be of use if you want to look through a microscope at samples but for ordinary every day real woodworking even Smackies1000 grit stone is verging on being ott in my opinion.
I make furniture for a living and just use an ordinary two sided combination stone, I don’t even know what the grits are but I suspect the finest one isn’t even 600. I’m sure people have sharper tools than mine, but to what end? Mine are perfectly sharp enough for anything I want to do and remember I use them all day.
Obsessively buying kit and spending half your time fussing is a waste of time and money IMO. Ian
 

smackie

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I make furniture for a living and just use an ordinary two sided combination stone
Hah! Yeah, I use a 400/1000 two sided diamond combo stone (from Axminster) and that has sharpened an awful lot of edges. i think the basic point is the one we’re all underlining - sharpen what you have, use it often, use it thoughtfully and then it’ll be clear if you really need something else.

Of course, I can’t move for tools right now but at least they’re sharp... :D
 

SeaSteel

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Hah! Yeah, I use a 400/1000 two sided diamond combo stone (from Axminster) and that has sharpened an awful lot of edges. i think the basic point is the one we’re all underlining - sharpen what you have, use it often, use it thoughtfully and then it’ll be clear if you really need something else.

Of course, I can’t move for tools right now but at least they’re sharp... :D
Thanks for taking time to responding. I served my apprenticeship as a mechanical fitter 50 odd years ago and my apprentice master used really push the finer the honing the better the cut but that was for hand chiselling metal. Cutting jetways and oil ways. To be honest until recently I’ve never worked with wood except for rough sawing and crash bang whollop stuff. I am learning from scratch.
 

Cabinetman

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Well, after chiselling steel I don’t think you’ll have much problem with wood! You’ve had some good advice on here especially with regard to fettling your old chisels which I think you’re going to do, so have fun and show us what you make. Ian
 

SeaSteel

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Well, after chiselling steel I don’t think you’ll have much problem with wood! You’ve had some good advice on here especially with regard to fettling your old chisels which I think you’re going to do, so have fun and show us what you make. Ian
Thanks the two mediums are total different as I am finding out😀😀
 

M_Chavez

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I have a soft set and a hard set in regular sizes. Hard is for very fine work, the soft set is for everything else, apart from nasty destructive jobs, where I might pull out an old noname jobbie that's sharp as a screwdriver, but I don't mind destroying it.

Hard is Ashley Iles Mk2. These have got to be some of the best chisels out there and you can buy them without a handle if you like turning your own to fit your hand and your style of working. Very reasonably priced.

Soft is Narex - excellent chisels that used to be dirt cheap ( I remember paying something around £6 per chisel). The prices appear to have doubled/tripled over the last few years, but they are still a good bargain. These are quite soft, so they are easier to sharpen, but you have to strop them more often.
An example where I'd use a soft Narex vs an AI Mk2 is if I'm chiselling into a wood and carbon fibre sandwich. Cf eats up the blades in no time, so I'd rather resharpen a soft Narex than a hard AI when I'm done. Another example would be working with the likes of wenge that's really hard on blades.

I don't buy into the "vintage is great" cult... Some of the vintage chisels are fantastic and some seem to be absolute garbage. I have a set of extra-long Stormont chisels and I can't fault them (the only reason I went vintage here is because I couldn't get an extra long set of AIs). But I've had old Taylors, Marples, Stanleys, etc that could have been made of cheese. It looks like you never know what you're going to get until you restore them and with all the time required for restoration you might as well treat yourself to a quality chisel set for a couple more £.
 

mikej460

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I have a set of old black plastic handled Stanley chisels I bought in the early 80's and, like you, I thought they were beyond use. Then I went to a woodworking class and the first thing we were taught was how to hone a chisel. My old Stanleys honed up really well and I used them for a few years until I bought 4 Kirschen/Two Cherries bevel edge chisels from Axminster Tools which are great value for money. I still use my Stanleys for rougher work.
 

Danieljw

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Next time.you see a new Stanley chisel, check it with a vernier caliper..
I bought 4 new, about 5 years ago and all of them over sized... the 10mm was infact 10.7, "made in england with material sourced from around the world"
In other words assemble in.. but made in china.
My previous set, I bought 50 years ago, (while I was apprentice in putney, london) lol I could only afford one per month.
They got stolen... I could have cried, I would have killed.
 

Cabinetman

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That is a real bummer and I know exactly how you feel about killing the little b......... it’s mainly the reason why all my day-to-day hand tools are in a school type rack and picked up and locked away at the end of every day. I have said many times they are my most precious possession. Ian
 
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