Good value set, and thats about it

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Review by PurpLev posted 09-29-2011 04:22 PM 8174 views 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Good value set, and thats about it No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I got these from Leevalley with the set of Narex Skewed chisels and this review is very similar to that review as my experience with both sets was almost the same , Up until now I was using bench chisels for mortising and it left a lot to be desired, when I saw that Narex had a decent set for an affordable amount, I decided to go for it and keep my bench chisels for other lighter purposes.

First Impression:
Taking them out of the package I was instantly surprised by the lightness of the handles. The handles are large and look massive, but are made of very light material. Not necessarily bad, just surprising at first. the cutting edges seemed sharp, but the machining on the back was lousy and required some lapping (not as lousy as the skewed chisels, but still not what I would consider smooth)

Machining and Sharpening:
While the chisels felt sharp out of the “box” (did not come in one which is good because I’m tired of having to throw away of store away unused boxes as everything goes in tool cabinets anyways) they did not feel smooth or polished. a few strokes on a diamond stone revealed a lot of low spots on the back (front 2” of the blade) and on the bevel, mostly around the edge area which is the critical area.

These chisels like the skew chisels required a good amount of lapping to get the backs truly flat and usable. What I was experiencing is because of the thickness of the material if I lapped the backs side to side it would tip the blade in either direction taking it even more out of flat. I ended up reverting to lapping the back with a back-to-front movements on the diamond stones to flatten it, and 1000,2000 sand paper to hone it. this worked much better and produced after some 2hours (for all 5 chisels) a flat and sharpened edges.

the largest 1/2” chisel had such a bad low spot on the bevel right at the edge that after some work on the diamond stones I got tired and used my wet-sharpener to reestablish the bevel with a slight hollow. there was a lot of material to take off and the low spot was just too much.

Edge Cutting Quality:
After honing all the edges it still felt like they should be sharper. it seemed I could never get to a razor sharp edge as I can with my other chisels. They can leave a nice clean surface on end grain but they don’t slice as easily as my bench chisels. However for mortising they do cut and cut a clean line. As for how long it’ll keep that edge only time will tell, maybe after I’ve used it more I’ll revisit this review and add more info about the longevity of the edge

I’ve read that some people didn’t care much for the large handles, but to me these handles are very comfortable, and the fact that they are made of light material reduces fatigue on the muscles. I would say these are quite comfortable to work with to me.

These are decent chisels at a bargain price. they are a good value set but leave some to be desired and will require some dedication in bringing them to be flat and sharp properly. There are better mortise chisels out there, but for me, my needs, and the amount of time I will use them they are more than satisfying.

Good value, expect to put in some work before you can use them.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View PurpLev's profile


8587 posts in 4502 days

12 comments so far

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3902 days

#1 posted 09-29-2011 05:32 PM

I have the same chisels and I had the same experience. I never yet used them to cut mortises

-- Bert

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 4657 days

#2 posted 09-29-2011 06:23 PM

I don’t disagree with your review (nor review of the skews), but have a little more positive tone. I have paid as much as the set for a single chisel, and still had to do some lapping work, which strikes me as more disappointing.

I have had not had difficulties with the longevity of the edge on the Narex chisels in general, but have not used the mortising ones in particular enough to say definitively.

View PurpLev's profile


8587 posts in 4502 days

#3 posted 09-29-2011 06:57 PM

Arminius, I don’t have a negative tone (or at least don’t think I do) otherwise I would rate these with 1-2 stars. I don’t think people are familiar with the 5 points rating system, a ‘3’ is neutral, not negative. it’s nothing amazing, nor faulty/failure. I have other cutting tools, and my point of view is from my past experience compared to it, these chisels required far more work to lap and flatten irregularities in the metal. I was aware to the fat I’d have to lap these, and was well prepared to do so, and am very happy to have those as the price is within my budget but that still does not mean that I rate them higher in terms of quality.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dwain's profile


618 posts in 4713 days

#4 posted 09-29-2011 11:39 PM

I think you were a little over zealous in the lapping portion of your review, and that made the review seem more negative. Basically, you gave four out of five stars, but your review sounded more like two or three out of five.

I have these skew chisels, and wish I had bought the mortise chisels while they were on special. I guess my point is that for the price of these chisels, they are a really good value. Not great and by no means perfect, but for a lot of wood workers out there, they fit a price point. We all can’t afford LN chisels, and don’t have the time to rehab an make handles for the oldies.

Thanks for your review.


-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View PurpLev's profile


8587 posts in 4502 days

#5 posted 09-30-2011 02:46 AM

Dwain This is not a product description but a personal review that is based on personal experience and personal comparisons. Yes I was surprised at the amount of lapping I had to go through in order to make these usable. So in that sense you are right, I did make note of that feeling so that people thinking of getting this would know this in advance. However I did NOT give this product 4 stars but only 3 (the current 4 stars is an average of all reviews of this product) and I did not say it is not a good product – it IS a good product (not great though) and a good value, but comes at a price other than just money. For what it’s worth I compared the amount of work it required to cheaper marples (yes from home depot), and other similarly priced tools. I do not have nor have I experience with LN nor can I afford it much like the next guy which is why I wanted to put this review out there so that all aspects of the product be presented to others like me.

Thanks for the comment.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 4657 days

#6 posted 09-30-2011 03:47 AM

Dwain about has it – your review was not negative per se, nor inaccurate, but the points you discuss were negative other than price, or left open because you have not had enough use to feel informed to respond. For me, once tuned, I have been delighted with these chisels, but I would emphasize the end point rather than the admittedly significant (about 30 minutes per chisel for me) process to get there.

View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4542 days

#7 posted 09-30-2011 05:06 AM

Sharon , it is nice to read a real review here for a change instead of the usual ” I just took it out of the box and gave it 5 stars because I want to show everyone my new toy” !
I didn’t read any negativity in your post , but rather honesty about what needed to be done to make the chisels do their job. Had you given them 5 stars after all that work , then I would have questioned your sanity ! LOL
You also stated that you’d be back to let us know how the edges are holding up.
Please do because if they go on sale again , I just might have to invest a little cash and sweat equity into a set myself. : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3788 days

#8 posted 09-30-2011 07:02 AM


Thanks for the honnest review.

I personally do not see any negativity but I see your opinion and findings about those chisels.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 4506 days

#9 posted 09-30-2011 07:11 AM

Thanks for the review.
I also own Narex chisels (the bench chisels) and had to lap the back. I expect to have to do that with almost any chisels I buy. Lie-Nielsen is perhaps the exception. Of course, you only go through that once for your set, so its a good trade off for the money, a few hours of sweat.

-- Yves

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 3528 days

#10 posted 10-01-2011 04:36 AM

Thank you for the review. My friend bought some of these chisels and has enjoyed using them. I do not know what his report is on sharpening them though. For the price they are hard to beat.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View james3one's profile


59 posts in 3626 days

#11 posted 11-27-2011 06:45 PM

I have to say I had a similar experience with my Narex in terms of the quality of manufacture. Expect to take some time in tuning up the tool. Be careful of the angles when honing as you may not end up with a square edge. Draw a square reference line on the back and near the tip first.

I did want to say that it was nice to get a 3/8” chisel that was actually 3/8”, most are actually 10mm. Lee Valley arranged to have these made in the standard US measures. Not opposed to metric but most of my stock ends up at 3/4” and the 10mm is just a little too wide. There are metric versions of the Narex mortise chisels and beveled chisels out there so have a close look before purchase.

A good tool for the price. As I only needed the one size it was well worth the cost, both in terms of time and money. One more thing… I chopped a very nice mortise with this chisel right out of the box, prior to any honing. I would recommend this to anyone.

-- James, Tulsa OK,

View bonobo's profile


304 posts in 2910 days

#12 posted 01-03-2014 11:37 PM

Great review but I came away with a different impression of the machining on mine. I’d chopped few mortises with it and decided to used it to pare a thick tenon. After a few seconds my fingers were bloody because the corners of the blade had been so squarely machined and so sharp that I hadn’t felt a thing.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

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