Pricey, but worth it.

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Review by Jon Spelbring posted 02-12-2010 04:57 PM 9998 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Pricey, but worth it. Pricey, but worth it. No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve recently been bitten by the hand tool bug. I’ve been learing to do dovetails and MT joints by hand (fun!). My current set of chisels is the ole blue Marples. They do the job, but I wanted something with a little more finesse for fine tuning my dovetails, so what better than a couple of dovetail chisels. I did my research, and kept coming up with Blue Spruce. So, I decided to bite the bullet and order a couple to see if they were up to the hype.


How’s that for a short review? No, seriously, they are probably the most beautiful tools that I own. They feel like an extension of my hand.

I haven’t worked with a lot of different brands of chisels, but I do know that they pare very cleanly, are able to get into the corners of the tails rather nicely, and so far, I haven’t had to sharpen them (I did hone them a little when they first arrived). The backs are flat and the balance is very good (my poor Marples feel like cudgels now). The blades feel much thinner than the Marples, and overall, they have a very light feel to them.

Now, this next part is subjective, but I think they make my work better. Not because they are finely crafted tools (though that helps), but because they challenge me. When I’m using them, I almost feel like I have something to live up to – how could one be so crass as to make a sloppy joint when using such exquisite tools? So, they challenge me, and I strive to be worthy. How weird is it that I’m trying to impress a chisel? Do I need therapy?

I bought mine from – handles are cocobolo, and the blades are A-2 steel. As of this writing, they were $74.95 each. I know, “ouch”, but for me at least, they’re worth it.

This is my first review, so please feel free to critique it – I have other tools that I’d like to write about, and I’m always looking to improve my writing/reviewing skills.

-- To do is to be

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

200 posts in 5745 days

14 comments so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4566 days

#1 posted 02-12-2010 05:05 PM

Good review. I always appreciate the personal insight and subjective commentary. I can read about the specifications elsewhere and I am always a little skeptical about reviews written by professionals. The personal insights from a fellow LJ is of great value to me.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 4738 days

#2 posted 02-12-2010 05:21 PM

Thanks for the review. I’ve always wondered how these chisels are in ‘real life’. That’s the whole point of LJ reviews, so yours’ is very informative and well written.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View SST's profile


790 posts in 5686 days

#3 posted 02-12-2010 05:31 PM

I actually liked the subjective part the best. Here’s why. (and keep in mind, this is only my personal opinion which is free & worth every penny) I don’t believe there’s enough of a difference in a lot (not all, of course) of tools out there to where they will make most of us wannabe cabinet makers into woodworking artisans by using them.

Of course they need to be fundamentally good enough to do the job at hand, but beyond that, there is that intangible feeling you mentioned that seems to make us do better work when we use them. If those chisels give that to you, then that’s all that matters, whether you paid 75 dollars or 75 cents (you wish) for them.

Good luck with them, and, yes, please do write some more reviews. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View a1Jim's profile


118333 posts in 5069 days

#4 posted 02-12-2010 06:22 PM

thanks for the review.


View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 4529 days

#5 posted 02-12-2010 08:25 PM

Thanks for the review. As for the review of the review, you hit all of the high points that I was interested in—build quality, how they hold an edge, subjective “feel,” and how they work for their intended purpose. To top things off, I really appreciate you putting these in the context of other tools with which most readers would have some experience or knowledge (the blue Marples). Spot on as far as I am concerned, and definitely the type of user review I am interested in reading.

-- David from Indiana --

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5290 days

#6 posted 02-12-2010 09:57 PM

Let me tell ya, if I hadn’t already fabricated my own, I’d plunk the green down quick for those two puppies. They are life savers for ham-fisted woodbutchers such as myself. Several years back I came across an article somewhere that gave careful instruction on making your own dovetail chisels from a couple of leftover butt chisels. Nowadays I won’t cut a dovetail without them within reach.

Good review.

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View araldite's profile


188 posts in 4895 days

#7 posted 02-13-2010 03:34 AM

I bought his marking knife and awl with the cocobolo handles just because, after all these years, I just wanted to have really nice ones. I carry them with me whenever I’m in the shop and I use them all the time. They’re very high quality. I appreciate your review because when I’m ready to step up in chisels, I’ll be looking at these. BTW, I have “the ole blue Marples” also.

-- Failure is the road to success if you learn to learn from your mistakes - Vince, Greenville, SC

View rcs47's profile


233 posts in 4621 days

#8 posted 02-13-2010 04:42 AM

Good review. I like your subjective portion. If you can find that spark to inspire and push you, then you’ve found gold.

-- Doug - As my Dad taught me, you're not a cabinet maker until you can hide your mistakes.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 5377 days

#9 posted 02-13-2010 06:02 AM

I too am in a search to upgrade some of my chisels, wish more people would review theirs, and your review has helped me greatly in my quest. I’d like to see more reviews.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5589 days

#10 posted 03-04-2010 08:53 PM

Thanks for the review. They look quite nice.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View glassyeyes's profile


137 posts in 4821 days

#11 posted 06-22-2011 03:53 AM

I found out last night that I live just a few miles from The Best Things bricks-and-mortar store in Herndon, VA (almost all of their business is on the internet). It operates out of a fairly small office space, so there are no fancy displays—just wonderful tools and other goods. Knowledgeable and pleasant staff. I picked up a five-chisel set of bench chisels, a paring chisel, and two dovetail chisels. I’ll have to go looking for returnable bottles to be able to afford any lumber any time soon, but the chisels are so well made I don’t regret it. The only other thing I own of similar quality is a Lie=Nielsen block plane. Just hone ‘em and go.

They also sell antique tools. Drool, fellow LJers!

-- Now, where did I put those bandaids?

View TDog's profile


235 posts in 3722 days

#12 posted 04-19-2012 04:08 PM


I have had the talk with myself going on for a while now. I have been using the Marples Blue Chips with great pride. But, I keep web surfing to check out the Blue Spruce chisels and the Barr chisels. This review was helpful. I am STill saving to plop down the cash for that nice set.

I have to agree, I think it does make a woodworker tend to strive harder for great work when using great tools.

Great post!

-- "So many little time..." Psalm 23

View Bertha's profile


13635 posts in 4185 days

#13 posted 04-19-2012 04:14 PM

They are really beautiful chisels. The cocobolo really takes it over the top. The price is definitely painful but you only cry once, you know? Those things will be around long after both of us. Thanks for the review!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Kv0nT's profile


84 posts in 3619 days

#14 posted 08-14-2012 02:20 AM

I just ordered my first bluespruce chisel. I ordered a 7/16 dovetail paring chisel. I AM SO EXCITED!

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