6 May 2018 at 9:17 am #540476Curtis EnlowParticipant
I have been using my first set of chisels (a Harbor Freight set) for a while, but think I am ready to move up. The HF ones have been…okay (at least in the Doug fir construction woods I have been using), they’ve never chipped or bent, but they seem to be very soft as they don’t hold an edge long. Also they have very short handles, so precise control is more difficult than ones that might have a longer handle/blade combination.
Sure, I’d love a set of expensive chisels, but budget is a major consideration. Looking for the popular ‘Aldi’ chisels in the US has been fruitless, but I did notice the Czech Narex set which – for a moderate priced chisel – seems to have consistently good reviews (though I am open to suggestions for moderately priced $40-$50-or-under set in the US).
Any suggestions or helpful experience with moderate-priced sets? Thanks!
6 May 2018 at 11:01 am #540491Dave RingParticipant
Both Chris Schwarz and Marilyn Fitzpatrick have written favorable reviews of the U.S. made Buck Bros. chisels, sold at Home Depot. These are close copies of the old Stanley No.60 chisels with the yellow and black plastic handles with steel caps so you can beat on them with a hammer. Price is around $10 each. These are rather short and the 1/4″ size has very wide side lands. I bought a couple of older ones last week at a flea market and they seem to be at least as good as the Stanleys. I don’t know if they are still made to the same standard.
I have zero experience with he Narex chisels.
Regarding the Aldi chisels, last year they were available in the U.S.for a week around Labor Day and in the two previous years just before Fathers Day in June. They only put out enough to last for about a week or sometimes less.
Dave6 May 2018 at 12:54 pm #540507johnnykParticipant
I have experience with Narex and I think they are very good. If you can find them, you can feel confident that they will last a very long time. If you have an Aldi grocery store near you, they sell a set of 4 chisels that haven’t cost $12 – ever. Paul recommends them and I own 3 sets; I bought 2 as gifts for friends, but they went out and bought their own before I could make a box to hold them. Aldi only has them about twice a year, but they are a great value.6 May 2018 at 1:06 pm #540511Keith WaltonParticipant
Johnnyk are either of the extra aldi sets you bought still unused? I’m looking for a set to buy myself.6 May 2018 at 1:17 pm #540513btyremanParticipant
the narex are good, the only downside to them are the chunky handles which I don’t like, apart from that steel quality is good for the price, they were my first set of chisels and I’m still using them, I’m considering upgrading to a set of ashley isles when I can afford it though.6 May 2018 at 1:49 pm #540522EdParticipant
If you get the Narex, get them from Lee Valley. LV’s are true imperial widths rather than being labeled with imperial widths but really being cut to the nearest mm. Also, the LV ones I’ve received have come with refined backs that do not have heavy grinding marks. They were very easy to polish. My only complaint is the heavy handle, which is sometimes a plus and sometimes annoying. They aren’t heavier than other chisels I’ve had.6 May 2018 at 3:08 pm #540547Derek LongParticipant
The Narex chisels are very serviceable chisels. As Ed said, buy from Lee Valley for imperial if that is important to you. I don’t mind the handles. The backs come fairly well flattened with only the mildest of grinder marks. You still have to take the time like with any chisel and polish it out.
As to the Buck Bros at HD that Dave mentioned, they are fine beater chisels but not for fine work. They are heavy as heck, and the steel isn’t great. You’ll get lots of practice with sharpening though, because they dull out real quick. And you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time flattening and honing them. They are carpenter chisels, after all.
Denver, Colorado6 May 2018 at 4:33 pm #540574Gerald ElyMember
I started with a set of 4 imperial Narex I picked up from Amazon and love them.I now own all 8.6 May 2018 at 4:42 pm #540579STEVE POVALLParticipant
Bought a set of Narex 8105 (6), from Woodwork Heaven UK, £45 plus an extra 18mm I needed. My first set proper as I have had odds n sods from my own and my Dad’s hand-me-downs. Seem good buys to me with my limited experience, not at all heavy, hold an edge well. First build was Paul’s workbench, saw horses, couple of dovetail boxes, walking canes x4, so a fair range of tasks. No thoughts of upgrading, they are OK.6 May 2018 at 5:13 pm #540587Curtis EnlowParticipant
Thanks, all. Great responses and I appreciate your input.
Is there that much of a real-world difference between Metric equivalents and pure Imperial? With regards to woodworking tolerances is there a notable difference between 6mm/0.236 and 1/4″/0.250?
Do people that have used both notice a difference?
Curtis6 May 2018 at 7:50 pm #540631EdmundParticipant
[quote=540587]Is there that much of a real-world difference between Metric equivalents and pure Imperial? With regards to woodworking tolerances is there a notable difference between 6mm/0.236 and 1/4″/0.250?[/quote]
So far is hasn’t been a big deal at all. If there was a very specific, odd chisel size that I required for a project, and all I could find was a close approximation from the other measurement system, I’d get it without hesitation.
Having said that, it’s nice to stick with the system that’s dominant in your area, as there are small payoffs. For example, if you’re using Imperial all around, then when you buy, e.g., a beautiful CB-301 hinge from Brusso for your project, your 3/4″ chisel will help make the hinge mortise at the perfect length. Your 1/4″ chisel will fit perfectly into the mortise lines drawn by the 1/4″ mortise insert on your Tite-Mark, etc, etc. So if you buy metric products, get metric chisels, and the reverse, when it’s convenient to do so.6 May 2018 at 9:25 pm #540660EdParticipant
In many ways, no, it doesn’t matter if the tool is imperial or metric. Either way, you set your gauge to it when cutting a mortise and for other work you grab the chisel that seems suitable. Where it starts to be an issue is in layout. It is quite handy to have a set of items that are of various widths. If I need a 1/2″ line next to something, I can trace the edge of my 1/2″ chisel. If your layout is being done in imperial units, this trick doesn’t work as well if you have metric chisels and vice versa. If I’m working with material that is, say, 3/4″ thick and want a mortise, that mortise will be about 1/3 the thickness, which is 1/4″. If my chisels are marked in mm, I must count on my toes to work out that is around 6mm. Of course, if you think of your thickness as 20mm, then it will be more convenient to have metric chisels because you’d look for 6 to 7 mm.
None of these issues are show stoppers, especially if you want to work in metric anyway. What is a big deal, though, is the backs being nice and flat from LV. That’s definitely worth something. Since LV has clearly changed the specifications for the Narex chisels they sell (imperial width and grinding level of the backs), I don’t know if they’ve changed anything else, like some aspect of the steel. So, when I say I’ve had good luck with Narex, read that as LV’s Narex. No, I don’t work for them or have any interest in the company.
6 May 2018 at 11:45 pm #540729Dave RingParticipant
- This reply was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by Ed.
A couple of other low priced chisels that might be worth considering are the “Faithfull” brand knockoffs of the old Marples Blue Chips and the wood-handled Buck Bros. bench chisels.
Paul used to recommend the Faithfull chisels before he discovered the Workzone chisels at Aldi. He recently posted an article about a recently produced set and was less than pleased with them, largely because the bevels were ground at too steep an angle IIRC. That would be an easy fix if you have access to a bench grinder. Anyway, they are available through ebay from several UK vendors.
The aforementioned Buck Bros chisels are AFAIK only available from The Craftsman’s studio:
At $10-$12 each or $65 for a set of six they might be worth a look.
Dave7 May 2018 at 12:55 am #540739harry wheelerParticipant
Ive got some Narex mortice chisels that work pretty well if I dont need an exact imperial width. Thats were the trouble can begin. My Stanley 45 plane has imperial cutters so if Im plowing a groove and the mortics has to match, I cant use the Narex. I have a full set of Buck Brothers that I use for mortices and they work pretty well. Plus, you can beat on them as much as you like, no worries. And if you damage one, you’re out $10.
Harry7 May 2018 at 2:43 am #540773norm lafondParticipant
I have all of the chisels mentioned here. They are all great and an excellent deal. The Buck Bros. surprise people because the wood handled bench chisels are very fine (narrow lands on the sides.) They do well for joinery work. The Buck Bros. from H Depot are great for heavier work like mortising. Both are hardened to RC 59 and are very affordable and made in USA. You can get the wood handled Bucks online from craftsman studio, Diefenbacher tools and jamestown distributors. You can also get excellent long paring chisels and crank necked chisels from Buck at these stores.
The Narex are also excellent, hardened to RC 59 and you can get them in imperial from Lee Valley and metric from Highland woodworking. I use the mortising chisels for the the big chores in heavy doors, large bed and table legs. The Narex have some premium metric chisels that are even finer than the Buck Bros. I use these for final stages in dovetailing. The standard narex chisels are very similar to the Buck Bros. carpenters chisels but have wood handles. The premium imperial Narex bench chisels from Lee Valley are almost as fine as metric ones. None of them are expensive and you will find them very reliable.7 May 2018 at 2:58 am #540779norm lafondParticipant
I forgot to mention that ToolsforWorkingWood.com carries imperial premium Narex chisels as well. A set of four goes for $49.00
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