Great chisels for a great price

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Review by funchuck posted 08-02-2011 01:52 PM 8109 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Great chisels for a great price Great chisels for a great price Great chisels for a great price Click the pictures to enlarge them

I ordered these chisels from The Best Things and to be honest, I wasn’t that excited about them. I was buying them because my old chisels (Pinnacle brand from Woodcraft) really sucked. The edge would roll over after 5 paring strokes on poplar end grain. I used a strop to unroll the edge, but that didn’t work too well, so I went looking for better chisels. I can’t believe I dealt with these chisels for ~6 years, but most of those years, I didn’t really use them.

I did not want to flatten any chisel backs, so my one criteria was that they should be easy to flatten. I came across the Ashley Iles chisels, which advertised the hollow backs. I ended up buying the 6 chisel set for ~$150.

When the chisels came, I opened the box and looked at the chisels. They didn’t look special or anything. In fact, they looked quite ordinary. The handles were simple looking too. But, when I held the chisel, it just felt “right”. It’s difficult to explain, but it felt like they were made for my hands. The length of the chisel felt perfect too. Not too long, not too short.

After holding the chisel for a while, I felt really good about them. They felt so good to hold.

I looked at each one and noticed that the ferrules on some of them are very loose and actually slide off when I held the chisel vertical (see photo). I was disappointed about that, and knocked off 1 star for this. I put some tape underneath the ferrule and slid it back. Hopefully, that’ll hold.

So… the question I now have is, how flat are their backs? How easy will it be to hone them? I got out my oilstones and went at it.

The backs on all of them were very flat. It didn’t take long to get the mill marks out of the back.

On to the bevel… this was strange. The bevel angles on the chisels were different. Some were at around ~27 degrees, others at ~35. Some of the edges were not square to the sides too. But, these were not too bad.

In total, I probably spent about 45 minutes flattening the backs and honing the bevels on all 6 chisels. I think that is very reasonable, especially considering that I was using oilstones, which are slower.

I started paring some end grain poplar, just to see how it does compared to my old chisels, and yup, the keep on cutting without any roll overs or anything. I am a happy man!

The chisels also came with a denim tool roll, but I did not like it. It seemed like the chisels will slide out of it. Instead, I made a simple chisel holder for them (see photo).

-- Charles from California

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119 posts in 3860 days

9 comments so far

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13588 posts in 3496 days

#1 posted 08-02-2011 02:02 PM

These are very, very, very fine chisels. Best bang for the buck if you’re looking for some high-end chisels but you’re dazzled by all the offerings. Next step up is Japanese, possibly, but these represent the top of the non-Japanese food chain IMO.

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

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119 posts in 3860 days

#2 posted 08-02-2011 02:26 PM

Before I bought these, I did look into the japanese chisels, but I read that they can be brittle and higher maintenance, so I decided to only look at the western style chisels. The really good japanese chisels were also very expensive, and I still wanted money left over for new planes (reviews on my new planes will be coming up!).

But, I totally agree that they are great chisels, and not too expensive to boot. Sometimes, when I have nothing to do, I pick up one of them and hold them. They just fit my hands so well!

-- Charles from California

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4 posts in 3484 days

#3 posted 08-02-2011 08:06 PM

I recently picked up the 6 piece set plus the 1 1/4” AI chisels. Mine also had a few loose ferrules but I found after a week of acclimating to my workshop the ferules tightened up of their own accord. Probably due to humid summer conditions. My bevels were also all over the pace and the 3/8 chisel cutting edge was noticeably not square. Despite these nits – the chisels flattened quickly and sharpened well. I’m satisfied with them and may pick up a couple more sizes.

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770 posts in 3660 days

#4 posted 08-04-2011 04:56 AM

I ordered a set of these a couple weeks ago. Had the same problem with one of the ferrules as well,... sort of bummed me out because I thought the quality control should have been better for a premium tool.

I was soon back in love with them after I touched them up and started putting them to work. I plan to get a few more to round out the set and get some Irwins when they are on sale to use for beaters. My Ashley’s are reserved for nice projects and no glue.

I like your little rack Funchuck, may have to steal that idea from you, thanks for the review.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

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119 posts in 3860 days

#5 posted 08-06-2011 01:39 PM

TechRedneck: Not sure if I inserted these images correctly, but here are some more pictures of the chisel rack. I dovetailed the sides into the rack. I think I made the side of the dovetail a little thin, but it is pretty sturdy. The second picture shows version 1, which was screwed together.

-- Charles from California

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770 posts in 3660 days

#6 posted 08-08-2011 03:05 AM

Thanks Fun

The dovetail is fitting for those chisels. I was planning on a fixed rack, however one that can be moved around is interesting. Thanks for the pictures.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

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12604 posts in 3892 days

#7 posted 08-21-2011 02:57 PM

I have the same chisels and love them, I also had only the ferules to complain about, none of mine has fallen of, but they are just not the same class as the rest of the chisel.
They hold a good edge and they are a dream to use. I also love that handle shape it is nice and solid and you have a good grip.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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235 posts in 3033 days

#8 posted 05-13-2012 10:07 PM


I made this till for my chisels. It has been very helpful on my bench.
I like how your rack shows the chisel steel

at this link

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

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109 posts in 3032 days

#9 posted 05-07-2013 11:41 PM

I have these as well and love them. One thing to consider about the bevel angles/squareness is that these are all ground and sharpened by hand. Some people can’t stand a trapezoidal bevel line…others have more important things to worry about.
My 0.02$

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