Easy to sharpen but lack durability

  • Advertise with us
Review by Manitario posted 03-31-2012 07:42 PM 12405 views 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Easy to sharpen but lack durability No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

There have been so many positive reviews about these chisels that I thought I’d chime in with my experience with them. I’ve had these chisels for about 6 months. They were my first set of “real” ie. not big box store chisels. I’d read many positive reviews about the Narex set, and they are very reasonably priced, so I took the plunge. Overall, the machining and finish of the chisels was excellent. It took very little effort to lap the backs flat. I keep them sharpened to a 25 deg. bevel. They sharpen easily to a razor sharp edge. The vast majority of the work I do with them is paring; ie. they’re not used to chop mortises or scrape glue or open paint cans (!) etc. What I’ve noticed though is that they lose their edge very quickly, and the edge will bend or roll up, which requires a lot of work to re-sharpen each time, ie. no quick honing between uses. Maybe this is a normal occurrence…maybe it would be better if I re-ground them to 30 degrees…maybe this is just a bad batch, I don’t know. Anyways, I’m going to give them only 3/5 stars. Eventually I’ll try re-grinding them to 30 degrees, but I wish now that I’d waited and spent a bit more money to get a set that is more durable.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3658 days

16 comments so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 3939 days

#1 posted 03-31-2012 07:58 PM

Have you tried putting a 30 degree microbevel on them? I have some mediocre chisels that seem to hold up pretty well, that way. I just keep the Worksharp on the 30 deg mark, and it takes very little to resharpen the microbevel.

Actually getting in the shop a little this weekend, but as a favor to a neighbor and his kids. They need some 4” long 9/16” diam holes through the body of a large number of puppet torsos built from a piece of 2×4 stud. So I am starting the hole with a Forstner bit, then using a spade bit for most of it due to the depth of the hole, and then completing the other end of the hole with a Forstner again. Since the stud lumber is not very uniform, can’t use a fixed jig, and have to adjust each one for centering.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3658 days

#2 posted 03-31-2012 08:15 PM

Next on my list is to try a 30 deg bevel…would be nice if someone would come up with a metal that never needed sharpening…
“a large number of puppet torsos…” – You certainly lead an interesting life!! Have great weekend!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Robert Brown's profile

Robert Brown

152 posts in 3466 days

#3 posted 03-31-2012 08:34 PM

What are you paring? I have the same sharpened at 25 degrees. On paring red oak there was no bending or roll over. Edge retention was better than the old Marples from Sheffield I also have. One of my Narex fell on the concrete. A corner of the edge broke off. Yours sound soft. Maybe if you ground them back you may get to the good metal.

View meikou's profile


115 posts in 4410 days

#4 posted 03-31-2012 08:35 PM

Perhaps you should try Paul Sellers sharpening method. Stronger bevel his way.

View oskarman's profile


30 posts in 3085 days

#5 posted 04-01-2012 03:09 AM

i have a set of Narex chisels and trust me, the problem with them has nothing to do with sharpening method. they simply do not hold an edge for very long. they are well made and a very good value. they just don’t hold their edge for very long. i would buy them again, but am looking forward to the day i can afford a set of Lie-Nielsens and can relegate my Narex chisels to second team status.

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 3676 days

#6 posted 04-01-2012 05:03 AM

Count my vote for the Narex bevel chisels. I use a 25 degree bevel with a 30-degree microbevel. I have been very pleased with edge retention..

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

View StumpyNubs's profile


7808 posts in 3575 days

#7 posted 04-01-2012 11:19 PM

Sounds like we have an issue with consistency! Some people say they are hard (RB chipped his) others say they are soft. Maybe I should get a set to see which one I come up with!

I have been thinking of a set of Narex mortising chisels. Maybe I’ll wait…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3823 days

#8 posted 04-03-2012 06:09 PM

I have them and I like them very much.
StumpyNubs I believe that misread the comments above.
It seems to me that the micro bevel makes the difference.

-- Bert

View Nicky's profile


698 posts in 4867 days

#9 posted 04-03-2012 06:53 PM

It does sound like inconsistancies in manufacturing. More to the point, it sounds like your new set of chisels have not been properly tempered (as described by the bending and rolling). Anyone agree? If yes, how would one check if any blade is “properly” tempered.

-- Nicky

View PhiltheLuthier's profile


57 posts in 3544 days

#10 posted 04-04-2012 02:44 AM

I have two sets of Narex bevel edge chisels. They seem to be differently made, my older set which I quite like has a heavy ring to keep the handle from splintering if you hit it with a mallet. The newer set, has this ring replaced with a light stamped steel one, and frankly I find I rarely reach for these ones as they don’t seem to work as well. I’m not sure about edge retention I’ll have to pay more attention, though it hasn’t struck me as being really poor for either set.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16708 posts in 3393 days

#11 posted 04-04-2012 03:02 AM

Sounds like a set I would think about not getting. Broken record here, but I’ve been very happy with my set of the Stanley SW re-issues. They really are nice tools… Sixth project with dovetails since purchase, only now are some getting a re-sharpened since initial set-up.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3728 days

#12 posted 07-14-2015 05:17 PM

I am a fan of Narex chisels as perhaps the “BestBuy” in chisels. Properly sharpened, and skillfully used, I’ve found them to be a very good product. I have about 20 of them, and have been using them for over a year. I see no really significant difference in performance between Narex, and my Ashley Iles, Stanley 750, or Henry Taylor chisels. I have the others because they make them in sizes and shapes that Narex does not offer.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3728 days

#13 posted 07-14-2015 05:22 PM

AAaaaarrrhh. I hate double posts! Sorry.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1951 days

#14 posted 07-14-2015 05:56 PM

You may have gotten a set that was improperly made. Have you tried contacting Lee-Valley? They have great customer support. Tell them that most people seem to have good luck with the chisels and ask if they would replace yours.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Rwolinski's profile


145 posts in 1100 days

#15 posted 07-05-2017 06:44 PM

Hi Everyone.
If indeed the set is to the proper hardness… (you can go to most machine shops that have a hardness tester and have one or two checked.) and it is Rc59 The only reasons they would lose their edge if if they were ground too fast and lost temper, or the edge was not made properly and polished the right way causing them to cut fine at the beginning with a burr on them but once the burr breaks off they don’t work so well.
A $200 chisel will lose it’s edge if not polished correctly. or over headed when ground.
I make a lot of hand cut dovetails, in all kinds of wood from Poplar to Red Oak and Hard Maple. I’ve found that as stated by others that if you take a few minutes to make sure the back is flat, and you use a coarse wheel on a low speed grinder to hollow grind them, and then put the edge on by hand with diamond or water stones, the edge will last incredibly long. I used a few of these chisels to make custom hand planes, one in particular is my 1/4×1/4×1/4 grooving plane for drawer bottoms. since plywood is always undersized I used the 6 mm Narex Chisel to be the iron for my plane. I took 4 minutes to flatten the back, 6 minutes to hollow grind it, and another 6 minutes to put the edge on with water stones, up to 12,000 grit. and I u se it almost every day. It’s been used, now fore over 2-1/2 years and I have yet to sharpen it.

-- What I make is for others....How I make it is for me.

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics