The Best Framing Chisel I've Ever Used

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Review by VanLewis posted 04-21-2010 05:40 AM 10632 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The Best Framing Chisel I've Ever Used No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve been using an ancient hand-forged framing chisel, about 2” wide, since I inherited it with a bunch of rusty saws maybe 25 years ago. Other carpenters admire it, mostly I think because you can see the skill of the maker in its hammer dents. It sharpens beautifully, holds an edge farily well, and can cut cleanly while the edge is new. It does have one major drawback, though: the socket was forged around a too-small form, about the diameter of a pencil, so I have to replace the handle much too often. Even the straightest-grain hardwoods break pretty quickly under the mallet because the socket is just too small.

At a workshop recently I borrowed a beautiful chisel by Barr Tools, of McCall, Idaho. This hand-forged tool is a thing of beauty. It doesn’t attract comments like the old one did, but it cuts better, and it feels better in the hand. I bought the more versatile 1-1/2” version [it’s also available in 1” and 2” versions, which are tempting]. It arrived pretty sharp, with a hardwood handle [the tang is twice as thick as I could fit in my old chisel], and a steel ferrule at the top that I think could withstand a jackhammer. It actually weighs about half of what my old chisel does, but it feels more solid and controllable, very nicely balanced. There is none of that lashing feeling of mallet-blows transmitting through the handle. It’s a pleasure to use. It doesn’t get any sharper than the old one, but it stays sharp far longer, so I only need to touch up the edge once or twice a day.

I highly recommend this excellent tool. Whatever you skill, it will allow you to do a better job.

-- Van

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4 comments so far

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F Dudak

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#1 posted 04-23-2010 12:37 AM

I have a Barr adze for hewing out chair seats and it is excellent!! Came super sharp! I will be using it next week at a Windsor chair class with Mike Dunbar in NH.

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

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13 posts in 3896 days

#2 posted 04-23-2010 06:37 AM

Can you post a picture? I’ve never used that tool. I have a small carving adze, an “elbow adze” made by Kestrel Tools, I think in Seattle, but I’d like to try my hand at a full-length hewing adze.

-- Van

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#3 posted 12-09-2011 09:33 PM

thanks for the review!

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Mainiac Matt

9657 posts in 3184 days

#4 posted 04-18-2012 02:41 PM

I had a very talented Timber Framer help me with my frame years ago and he made all of his guys buy Barr framing chisels….

They truely are the choice of the pros

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

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