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  #31  
Old 03-12-2019, 06:02 AM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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I don't know where OP is located, but I think an on-site interview with a working luthier would do a world of good...
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  #32  
Old 03-12-2019, 09:41 AM
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Bruce Sexauer Bruce Sexauer is offline
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I have about 25 chisels I’ve accumulated over the years. I doubt I am exaggerating when I say 98% of my chiseling is done with just one of them. It is an English made 3/4” paring chisel I bought at a flea market 35 years ago for $10. I use a 1mm and a 1.5mm for my purfling miters, and a 1/4” chisel to let in one end of my truss rod system. When I do diamond and square Martin style inlays, which is not often, I use a 3/16” chisel to cut them into the fingerboard.

The actual best deal I ever got on chisels happened while waiting for a ferry on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia. I ran into a guy who have recently returned from a trip to China back when people rarely went there. He had bought a few sets of hand made chisels that were similar to the popular laminated Japanese chisels, but much more utilitarian. He sold me a set of 5 for $11 Canadian. I still have them and they are as good as any I’ve ever used except for not being great ergonomically as they are a bit long. The 1/4” chisel I use is from that set.
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  #33  
Old 03-12-2019, 02:24 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phavriluk View Post
I agree with Mr. Walk, above. Just what I did.

I suggest to OP that he buy a set of blue Marples chisels, they are seriously inexpensive compared to the Holy Grail chisels that have been pitched, learn to sharpen them, and see how they work. They will either be all that's needed, or illuminate what is needed as improvements, and they'll be good to have around in any case. Having the set will also identify which chisels stay unused and which are in constant use.

I suspect that ascending the price slope can bring nicer tools, but is value there at 5x the price? For someone gathering experience?
While I have never owned one of the Marples Blue Chip chisels, I have noticed over the years more than one review that said they did not hold an edge well. I do like earlier wood handled Marples chisels.

As important as sharpening is, it is not everything. Steel, hardening and tempering, balance, and handle feel matter. Blade length and thickness matter, depending on your purpose. Get a basic set and work with it, and you will begin to notice what you like and dislike. Some chisels become old friends, even when you're not sure why.
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  #34  
Old 03-12-2019, 04:22 PM
tadol tadol is offline
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When I had a tool store, the general thought was English steel was slightly softer, so it didn’t hold an edge quite as well, but was much easier to sharpen. German steel was harder, held an edge better, and was a little harder to sharpen. Japanese tools took special care, and were not at all tolerant of any abuse. We were always on the hunt for old steel at garage sales and flea markets - actually, still am -
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  #35  
Old 03-12-2019, 04:45 PM
ruby50 ruby50 is offline
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When you are working your braces it is nice to have a chisel that is long enough to easily get two hands on as it gives greater control. These longer chisels are called a lot of things, but millwright's chisels will get you there. I have some that are over 10" long and they are very satisfying for this job.

Another thing the longer chisels are good for is driving perpendicular to your bench top. The length makes it easier to see plumb.

Ed
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  #36  
Old 03-12-2019, 10:23 PM
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Bruce Sexauer Bruce Sexauer is offline
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Speaking of cutting plumb to the bench, I have to modify my 98% thought as I realize I use the middle size Chinese $2.20 chisel, perhaps 25 mm, to split my peone which I use to connect the top to the ribs. That’s another 1 to 2% of the chisel use in a guitar. My main chisel job is both shaping and paring the ends of the spruce bracing, all the 3/4” English one. The Chinese ones hold their edge at least 4X the English one, but using diamonds as I have been for years to sharpen them all, I haven’t noticed any difference it time unless I have nicked an edge. I rarely do that, and then rarely bad enough to go to the grinder. The English chisel’s nick might remove in 3 or 4 minutes, but the laminated Chinese chisel takes so long I blot out the memory.
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Last edited by Bruce Sexauer; 03-13-2019 at 10:28 AM.
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  #37  
Old 03-12-2019, 10:39 PM
H165 H165 is offline
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I'm fortunate to have a few decent chisels, but must add my comment that a dirt-cheap Ryobi DC500 with a well sharpened set of blades is very handy at times.
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  #38  
Old 03-13-2019, 03:01 AM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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When i grew up on parents farm, a long time ago , we use to take our broken files and turn them into chisels, great chisels

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  #39  
Old 03-13-2019, 04:01 PM
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Simon Fay Simon Fay is offline
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As has been mentioned, any chisel will perform exceptionally if it is sharp. However, more expensive chisels have added value over cheaper chisels in that the metal, handle, and condition of the chisel is better.

Like planes, the back of the chisel needs to be flat near the cutting edge (unless it is intentionally curved). Handles are a personal thing but generally nicer chisels feel a bit better in the hand. Lastly, good metal is easy to sharpen and holds an edge for a long time.

I've used a wide assortment of chisels and the Veritas PM-V11 last so much longer when working with the exotic hardwoods used by luthiers. I'm talking in comparison to the best A2 cold forged steel. They are without question, a big step up over anything else on the market. Comparable or better is only achieved with handmade steel (japanese chiselmaker, etc...)

As Bruce pointed out, you don't need a lot of chisels. I would strongly recommend just getting a few Veritas chisels and then you'll be set.
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  #40  
Old 03-15-2019, 11:46 AM
Truckjohn Truckjohn is offline
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Of the current new production chisels I have personally owned - here's my recommendations:

Budget: Marples blue chip.
Mid price: Stanley Bailey
Good: Two cherries, Ashley Iles, or Pfeil.

Of these - I think the Stanley is probably hardest to sharpen on conventional stones because of their alloy steel. Marples is very easy to deal with on conventional stones, as are the Ashley Iles. Two Cherries and Pfeil are in the middle.

The Two Cherries I bought required extensive prep. They are fine chisels otherwise. They hold their edge at least as well as any others on the list - maybe better.

Pfeil is probably the most expensive of the bunch. These are probably the easiest to prep out of the lot.

Recommend you stay away from Aldi, Lidl, Harbor Freight, and other cheap discount chisels - the quality is way too inconsistent. I was able to improve a set of HF and a set of Aldi chisels to the level of current Marples chisels - but it it required removing the blades from the handles and then doing additional tempering and freezing processes to "finish" the heat treatment. It's a lot of work to turn a $1.50 chisel into a $6 chisel .

Last edited by Truckjohn; 03-15-2019 at 12:02 PM.
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  #41  
Old 03-15-2019, 11:59 AM
Truckjohn Truckjohn is offline
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On the subject of "Vintage chisels"....

Beware: This is a hobby of it's own. I have tested a bunch extensively and eventually put together a mix-master set of chisels I consider to be "good".

The "good" vintage chisels are very very good. Many are no better than current production Aldi or Harbor Freight chisels.

My complaint is that they are very inconsistent - even within brands and eras. One may be very good. The next one poor because it is too soft and the edge folds when you look at it funny. I ran into way too many which were too soft for my use.

Paul Sellers - a prominent Internet woodworker - has stated several times that he thinks Aldi chisels are on par with vintage chisels. After testing both - I am not sure really what to think about it except to note that I find both of them very inconsistent - though they can be made to work. So in that sense, I suppose I would agree - just not in a good way.....

My next complaint is that these have now predominately passed into the "Collector" realm. As such - prices have gone from reasonable to stupid.... And that sort of prevents churning through the duds to find the good ones.

Last edited by Truckjohn; 03-15-2019 at 12:12 PM.
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  #42  
Old 03-15-2019, 12:36 PM
ruby50 ruby50 is offline
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Truckjohn

I have to disagree. I work on tall ships with big big pieces of very hard wood - a 60 pound piece of Purpleheart, a Jatopa plank, 3 X 8 and 25 feet long, Osage Orange crotches, and I have yet to have a vintage chisel that did not do what it was supposed to do. And vintage chisels are very cheap. In response #12 to this thread I gave a link to an ebay sale of 2 Buck Brothers chisels in one lot, one of them over 100 years old, at $14.99 with less than a day left on the sale. I have a box in the basement of un-handles chisels that I have picked up for 25¢ to a buck or two and would sell for the same. Remember, as Bruce says, you only need a couple of sizes to make guitars, so no need of an entire set. Just pick up a couple of vintage chisels and toss the ones you don't like - PS I have never tossed a chisel in 55 years of woodworking

Marples no longer makes the blue handled (Blue Chip they are called) chisels. They were made by Footprint, but now Irwin is using the Marples name. If you are looking for good chisels, I would not trust the Irwin version - look for vintage Marples. There are a few on ebay right now at about $18-25 per chisel in sets of 5 and 6, but for that money you can do much better.

Ed
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