I’m looking at a set of allegedly vintage Marples tools. The seller doesn’t know whether they came from England or China. They are distinct, for Marples, by having a translucent yellow, plastic, handle with the 1/2″ near the socket being a red color.
Is this description enough to identify the source and age of these chisels? If so, does anybody know anything about them? What sort of reputation do they have?
Thanks for any info.
Are these the one’s you are referring to bud. 9 reviews all seem happy with them.
Yep, those are them.
Marples 373. But, in the corner it indicates Irwin/Marples. I’ve had such bad experience with other Irwin products, I’m rather leery of plunking down my hard-earned on anything associated with them.
On the other hand, apparently these chisels have been manufactured for more than 50 years. Is it only on the left side of the pond that Marples doesn’t really exist anymore?
Thanks folks for getting back to me.
I have a couple of sets of the Marples split proof chisels probably about 15 years. I also have wooden handled Marples chisels about 25 years old. Carpenter I used to work with got his split proof chisels in the 60’s not much left of them now.
Irwin took Marples over a few years ago so I am not sure if they are still made in Sheffield England.
They are a good chisel for site work as you can use steel hammer on them. They hold a fair edge.
For furniture worK I would look at the Narex cabinet maker chisel wooden handles good chisel for the money. There are a few good makes out there or look for vintage wooden handled chisels.
Dagenham, Essex, England
Any Marples related tool with the IRWIN name on them are not vintage. They were produced some time after the acquisition in 1998. Probably sometime between 1998 and 2002.
With that said, there are 373s that are truly vintage, you can tell from the stamped (not printed) Marples logo on the blade.
Like Mark said, these chisels are probably more suitable for carpentry (and/or finish carpentry?) and not fine woodworking. The bevels are not ground for tasks like dovetailing.
I’ve been using a set of vintage Marples tanged chisels (M377-S4?) with boxwood handles. Marples probably made those until around 1982, when Bahco temporarily acquired the company, but they are good steel and milled very well. I prefer wood handles, particularly the boxwood. You could probably find a set like mine (or older) for US $10 to $20 a chisel.
-Scott Los Angeles
These marples were some of the ones I bought as an apprentice when they came out in the 1960’s. Since then plastic handles became generally dominant and whereas some handles are fine (I actually like plastic handles generally) many things went downhill and especially so with Irwin chisels where they for some reason decided we needed to beat on chisels with 2lb claw hammers and waffleheads at that. They started putting the steel caps on so macho-man could beat all the harder and so they stopped making decent chisels, sold Sheffield out and took the dirt-work to Asia for cut-price labour. What can you expect from such companies. Best thing is not to buy modern Marples under its Irwin banner. Remember that Rubbermaid owns Irwin Marples. They make plastic waste bins. Feeling confident?
I heard back from the seller. He says the name Irwin does not appear anywhere on the chisels or the box. The individual chisels say made in Sheffield, UK. The box, apparently, was made in Canada. The tip protectors say Marples England. On the other hand, given that the chisels even have plastic protectors gives me pause.
In looking more closely at them, I think Scott is right. These are butt chisels and may be too short to do what Paul does, at least comfortably or easily.
Thanks all for the responses.
I have some really old Buck Bros butt socket chisels that are finely ground (Buck Bros did a good job in those years), but they are so short (ie.. 3.5″) that they really do not have enough reach when clearing waste from a wide housing or paring off a pin in the middle of a wide board. A socket chisel like a Stanley 750 adds up to an inch to that length, and my Marples are nearly an inch longer than that at 5 to 5.5″ long. That length comes in very handy sometimes.
One problem with my Marples is that the blade is pretty thin compared to other makes, almost paring chisel thin. Definitely not a “firmer” chisel. Heavy mallet blows are out of the question IMHO, but light mortise work seems OK.
-Scott Los Angeles
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