View Full Version : which chisel set should I buy?

09-25-2014, 01:26 PM

Someone help me to choose a good set of chisels?
want to spend $ 500 maximum for a set of 6 or 10.

Grizzly? Ashley?

Thank you!


Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-25-2014, 02:20 PM
I've been happy with my Two Cherries set (of 6).

I've heard from a few people that the Blue Spruce chisels are very nice, but they have been out of stock for ages.

I word of advise- I would favour sets with smaller chisels over larger chisels- for ukes, you would never need anything over 1" but im always reaching for my chisels that are 1/8" and under, but i do fine inlay work so anything under 1/8" might be over kill if your a normal person :)

Pete Howlett
09-25-2014, 03:15 PM
Oh boy - where are you getting your information from? Get on ebay and buy an old 1/2" paring chisel #271615743146 $10, a Lee Valley square edged cranked neck chisel (http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=30017&cat=1,41504,41539&ap=1) and a Swan Morton scalpel #3 handle with #26 blades. At a pinch, you might want to buy a 1/8" chisel as well off ebay. Don't go for Japanese chisels or anything fancy - an old chisel, made in Sheffield UK of cast steel is going to give you an edge as good as any modern equivalent usually at a fraction of the cost. Get a good set of diamond impregnated plates to sharpen with and you are away. If you have money to spend buy wood!

09-25-2014, 05:43 PM
I agree with Pete - go on eBay and look in the "Collectables Tools & Hardware" section for chisels bearing the inscription "Made in Sheffield, Warranted Cast Steel" or any combination of those words. In my opinion the actual maker isn't important as far as a user is concerned, though some will command higher prices from collectors. To minimise fettling, check for the absence of pitting on the blade backs near the cutting edge. I have never yet found a modern paring chisel the equal of the old ones in any respect - the old blades are thinner, have a great feel and hold a fantastic edge. You might have to pay up to 25 for a really good paring chisel, but plenty of good, shorter, bevel edged chisels for a lot less. Expect to do some work on the blade, but it will reward you with decades of service.

09-25-2014, 05:56 PM
Try and get yourself a few smaller sizes of the Stanley Everlasting chisels. I have tons of these however I typically use only the 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" the steel is of much higher quality. Especially if you can get earlier models. Ebay is your best bet if you don't have a access to a an Antique tool dealer.

09-25-2014, 05:58 PM
Earlier as in pre 1940.

09-25-2014, 09:57 PM
+1 on old British, German, Swedish chisels. Spend an afternoon making some replacement chisel handles from offcuts and you're set for life.

09-25-2014, 10:20 PM
Watch this Paul Sellers video on how to sharpen your chisels.

He uses chisels purchased at Aldi to demonstrate how you can get a really good edge on really cheap stuff.

Michael N.
09-26-2014, 12:46 AM
I have one of those Aldi chisels, given to me gratis. After sharpening it's perfectly fine. They lack the slim tapered lands of high quality chisels but that's irrelevent to instrument making. It's the same with Planes. No need to buy the expensive types. Lot's of old Stanleys/Records or old wooden planes that can be put to good use. The trick is to know what you are buying and be prepared to put in a bit of work to get them to sing. I guess that's where the expensive types have an advantage, especially for those new to woodworking. You need very little knowledge to get them to work.
$500 for a few chisels is overkill. Leave the Blue spruce . . . unless you really do have serious money burning a hole in the pocket.

Michael Smith
09-26-2014, 05:47 AM
I find I only use three chisels. A very small 2mm wide pfel, a 6mm wide two cherries, and 20mm wide skew of unknown maker. I like the slicing effect of a skew chisel for most brace work. Two cherries are made of very soft steel so they are easy to sharpen and don't chip, I also like the pfel chisels I have because their blades are fairly thin, the angles are very low and thus good for hand work. I would not find a set of chisels designed for general woodworking all that useful.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-26-2014, 07:47 AM
Berg are actually my favourite chisel and if I could do it again id drop $150 on ebay Bergs rather then the my two cherries set of 6.

And my dogleg Pfel 21/6 which i use everyday

09-26-2014, 09:57 AM
Berg chisels are ace. I'm getting a decent set, slowly and one by one. You'd think they were more common here in Sweden but you have to be really lucky at yard sales. Hardware stores sell Chinese sh*t.

09-26-2014, 10:46 AM
My wife got me a set of Stanley Baily chisels for my birthday back in March. For what I do they are great for the price. I like the links that Pete posted there are a couple I am looking at to add to my shop, thanks for the links Pete.

09-27-2014, 12:37 AM
Being a Lad brought up in Sheffield UK..I spent a lot of my early life in engineering around machine tools...On lathes I still use metal cutting carbon steel tools..also High speed steel tools...and Tungsten steel and Carbide tipped tools...The High speed steel tools are my favourite co's they don't wear out as fast as the carbon steel, when grinding an edge on the tool the steel dosn't lose temper/hardness when it gets so hot that it turns blue...on carbon steel chisels once the edge turns blue the tool becomes useless..thats why they are usualy ground on water wheel type grinders with the water in a trough under the wheel...any way I alway wondered, why they didn't make HSS wood chisels?...Well now they do! In Japan :)

Read this ...High-speed steel (HSS) chisels. Until recently, no chisels were made of high-speed steel, because the material was too coarse-grained to take a truly sharp edge. However, manufacturers have now succeeded in producing high-speed steel sufficiently fine-grained to take and hold an edge. These chisels can be sharpened to a very fine edge but their outstanding feature is their ruggedness. Carbon steel blades can be nicked fairly easily if not properly used. High-speed steel chisels, on the other hand, will take abuse with little concern that the blade will be damaged. They do require, however, slightly more effort to sharpen than carbon steel. Here is an example of these HSS chisels..Warning !! they aint cheap.
http://www.rutlands.co.uk/sp+woodworking-hand-tools-chisels-japanese-chisels-hss-nomi-chisels+m_jp1064 and some on Ebay http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Japanese-HSS-Chisels-for-Cabinetmakers-10pc-Leather-Chisel-Roll-DT718941-/191099783385?pt=UK_Baby_BabyFeedingUtensils_EH&hash=item2c7e6f48d9#ht_2302wt_952 I wonder if I could afford one ;)

Michael N.
09-27-2014, 10:16 AM
Don't know about chisels and HSS but I bought a HSS Plane blade 10 years ago - one of the Chinese types. They take much more work (lots of stropping) to get the blade to a similar level as carbon steel but even then I'm not convinced they do get quite as sharp.
May not matter, they are certainly useable and of course the edge lasts significantly longer than carbon steel. It's the old swings and roundabouts but I still prefer Carbon steel.

09-27-2014, 02:11 PM
I'd say learning how to sharpen is worth more than the chisel itself.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-28-2014, 06:28 AM
I'd say learning how to sharpen is worth more than the chisel itself.

That seems to be the case- i suck at sharpening.

Convex (like in the above video)
double bevel

i have trouble with flat single bevel...:(

has anyone tried them all and have an opinion on what works best or is it all personal preference?

Michael N.
09-28-2014, 08:04 AM
I started off with double bevel some 35 years ago. Switched to concave around 15 years ago. Started sharpening freehand around 10 years ago. Freehand automatically results in a convex bevel. I don't use the whole length of the stone like Paul sellers does. Mine are very short forward/backward movements, a few inches. Consequently the covex bevel isn't quite as severe as the sellers method.
They all work but these days I can't be bothered with jigs/honing guides.

10-01-2014, 06:49 PM
I'm not sure about the import duties in Argentina and what tools you have there to choose from but $500 US would get you a very nice set of chisels. I just attended a woodworking conference and in one room I was able to hold and try out chisels from Lie-Nielsen, Lee Valley, a handful of small makers and two antique handtool shop owners. Blue Spruce Toolworks http://www.bluesprucetoolworks.com/ had the nicest handtools I've ever seen or held in my 45 years of making sawdust. They have a 7/16"/11mm dovetail paring chisel that is perfectly balanced with side bevels machined in a convex fashion to keep them out of the way when you need to get into tight corners. I could get by with that, a 1"/25mm and a 1/8"/3mm and be very happy. If you have to have a complete set it's a tie between Lie-Nielsen bevel edge https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4080/chisels and the Lee Valley http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=69847&cat=1,41504

10-02-2014, 05:04 AM
I've heard from a few people that the Blue Spruce chisels are very nice, but they have been out of stock for ages.

He needs to update his site as he was taking orders 3 weeks ago. We should all have his problems.