Positive way to identify Pre-Irwin Marples Blue handled chisels?

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  • #21879
    John Purser
    Participant

    Does anyone have a positive way to tell Irwin/Marples chisels from Pre-Irwin Marples chisels?

    I’ve got two sets of the blue plastic handled chisels. One set says “Hand Forged” and “Sheffield England” (Interestingly NOT “Hand forged IN Sheffield England) with the width in metric and English units between the two phrases. The other has no measurements and a small icon on the front and back of the handle that looks like a man’s head wearing safety glasses. I can’t find that icon associated with Marples or Irwin. Both have “Marples” in gold lettering with a gold circle around them on the front of the handle.

    Anyone have anything definitive that would tell me if I had old school or new deal chisels?

    Apparently the little man in the safety glasses is there to inform me that I should wear safety glasses when using the chisels. Honestly they were so small and being simply stamped into the handle I never even noticed them until I was looking for a way to identify their age.

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #21880
    Ken
    Participant

    I don’t know if this will help John
    http://paulsellers.com/2012/10/irwin-chisels-not-the-same-as-marples-of-old/

    Scrub that John I should have read it first 😉

    #21881
    John Purser
    Participant

    I think he was talking about chisels actually marked “Irwin”. but advertised with a picture where they were marked just “Marples”. I did post there as well. I’m still not sure of how many are members of just one site or the other but not both.

    There’s a chance both of these are “genuine Marples” but I was using one today and found the edge wore off very quickly even in soft wood. It got me thinking.

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #21882
    Ken
    Participant

    John I can find no info buddy. Mmm genuine Marples chisels had good edge retention.

    Sorry I could not be of more help, Paul might jump in on this one.

    #21886
    John Purser
    Participant

    I’ve run into a few other people looking but no answers turned up yet. I think I’ll switch and use the other set and see what happens.

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #21887
    Greg Merritt
    Participant

    I’m pretty sure that the GOLD is the give away here. GOLD=Irwin WHITE=Genuine Marples. I have an old set with blue handles, white ring where handle meets the steel and oval logo in white. They are very good.
    I’m not finding anything to back my claim yet though.

    http://hillbillydaiku.com

    #21888
    John Purser
    Participant

    Greg you’re right. The ring is white and the label isn’t gold, it’s white or silver, hard to tell. I was catching a reflection off the lampshade earlier.

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #21889
    Greg Merritt
    Participant

    When you say the edge wore away…what exactly do you mean? Did the edge roll over or did chip off? If I remember correctly, I had to sharpen mine a few time before I got good edge retention. Tools with a high rockwell rating (hard temper) sometimes need to “settle in”. I read of Japanese wood workers putting newly forged planes blades on hot tin roofs for a day to settle the temper.
    Your chisels may be very good, its just the very tip may be really hard and brittle. Use them and sharpen them several times and see if the edge retention improves.

    http://hillbillydaiku.com

    #21891
    John Purser
    Participant

    In another post I detailed my troubles cutting mortices in extra soft wood. Tonight I was frequently checking to make sure the chisels were razor sharp. they weren’t when I started so I sharpened it and it easily shaved my arm when I finished. I cut a mortise before I checked again and it wouldn’t shave. Again, I touched up the blade, stropped it, and it cut hair like a barber. I checked it against end grain wood and it easily cut curls. I cut less than half of the next mortise and was putting tools up when I looked at the edge and saw a little glint of life coming off of it. I checked and it wouldn’t shave and would cut end grain but no easy curls like before.

    This really wasn’t much use in very soft wood. Think industrial strength balsa.

    Now I haven’t used wood working chisels this sharp before. Perhaps this is normal. I certainly hope not.

    John

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #21892
    Greg Merritt
    Participant

    Wow John…nope not normal. When I built my bench I had 4×4 fir for the legs. I chopped all (8) mortices and only sharped up once (narex chisel). It sounds like the steel may be soft. If the edge was hard and brittle, it would still be sharp but you would start to see lines and grooves in the wood from the areas of the edge that were chipping off.
    The only way I know to check the hardness of the steel is as follows:
    put the chisel handle in the vice
    lay a file flat on the bevel of chisel blade
    be sure to file away from the edge (you don’t want to slip and cut yourself)
    push the file forward
    if it bites into the steel, the steel is soft
    if it just skitters across the steel, the steel is hard

    Hope that helps some.

    http://hillbillydaiku.com

    #21893
    John Purser
    Participant

    Not sure I have the nerve to take a file to one of my chisels yet. Like I said, I have two sets. One looks older but apparently the other set was purchased and put on a shelf by the seller’s father. The story I got on both says they’re about the same age but clearly they’re different.

    I’ll switch and use the newer looking set and see how the edge holds up on that one.

    And I’ve got a couple of Narex chisels coming from Lee Valley. If I like them I’ll start saving up for the 7 piece set.

    John

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #21894
    Greg Merritt
    Participant

    You shouldn’t do any harm. You will need to sharpen it after though. see the attached sketch.

    http://hillbillydaiku.com

    #22085
    John Purser
    Participant

    Well there is definitely two kinds of steel in my two “Marples” chisel sets. The one with the icon of the guy in safety glasses but no unit measurements on the steel showed a white line on the edge after chopping less than 1/4 of a mortise. At that point it would no longer shave hair from my arm. This chisel was sharpened with Paul’s method and the bevel was very close to 30 degrees according to my bevel gauge. Right before I started it would cleanly and smoothly shave hair from my arm.

    The second set of chisels which are about 1/2″ longer than the first, have no little iconic guy in safety goggles but they do have the width of the chisel in English and Metric units on the steel along with the phrases “Hand Forged” and “Sheffield England” on the steel. These chisels were last sharpened back when I was still using a jig so they are flat ground to 25 degrees so they SHOULD be a bit more prone to wear. After chopping the other 3/4 of the mortise this chisel still easily shaves hair, just like it did when I started. No white lines on the edge either.

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #22087
    Mark Armstrong
    Participant

    I reckon someone has ground chisel on a dry grinder and lost the temper in the steel.

    Dagenham, Essex, England

    #22093
    Mark Armstrong
    Participant

    John I still can’t believe the steel on you chisels that soft.

    I do not think it matters wether you have gold or white writing they are all Irwin.
    You have to go pre 1998 to get a Marples chisel made in Sheffield.
    Good old Marples chisels normally carry a shamrock logo on them not sure about blue chip models though.
    I have red and yellow split proof chisels with shamrock logo and some without. The shamrock split proofs are better.
    My wooden handled Marples Ridgway I bought in 1980’s no shamrock but good chisels.
    I also have a small set of Marples carving chisels with Shamrock logo.
    I also have some Narex cabinetmaker chisels they are a good chisel with fine bevels and worth looking into good for dovetails.

    Dagenham, Essex, England

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