How to Upgrade Chisels?

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Review by TDog posted 04-20-2012 10:51 PM 8153 views 0 times favorited 38 comments Add to Favorites Watch
How to Upgrade Chisels? How to Upgrade Chisels? How to Upgrade Chisels? Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have really enjoyed my Marples Blue Chip Chisels passed down in my family. I like the quick sharpening of the O-1 carbon steel. I have cut a few dovetails now with them in a few projects and practice but would like a bit nicer set or few new chisels.

I am wanting to purchase a new set. I am debating between these now:

Lie Nielsen A 2 Bench Chisels
Barr Tools 0 1 Cabinet Makers Chisels
and just maybe Blue Spruce A 2 if only a couple new ones.

I would like any comments if you have used any of these brands and your opinions on their holding an edge, comfort, and quality.

I am leaning toward the LN’s or Barr’s at this time. BS are just a bit pricey for me at this time.

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

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235 posts in 3038 days

38 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118104 posts in 4385 days

#1 posted 04-20-2012 10:55 PM

As my wife would say to me “is there something wrong with your old chisels” ?


View TDog's profile


235 posts in 3038 days

#2 posted 04-20-2012 10:56 PM

You have a good point, I am really wanting I guess some wooden handle chisels and
have been checking those brands out for a while to use with a wooden mallet etc.

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

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4294 days

#3 posted 04-20-2012 11:10 PM

Sorry, but no experience with those you listed. If you have narrowed your choice, which is half the battle, then read no further. If not, as you know, LN chisels just wreak with quality, flat backs, polished, ready to go out of the box, excellent customer service, American made, but you pay for it, plus the LN mystique factor. Still, hard to beat. Two Cherries I have used, good weight and balance, reasonable price and good quality. They make very good users.

My question is, have you considered Japanese style chisels? I don’t have a set, but most who do swear by them. If I had a good user set like your blue Marples, and wanted to “invest” in quality chisels, I’d start comparing the Japanese offerings. I certainly would not leave them off the list of potentials. Just my opinion. You will get several others. Trust me on this one, woodworkers do have an opinion regarding chisels, and jump at the opportunity to discuss.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4294 days

#4 posted 04-20-2012 11:21 PM

a1Jim, I didn’t know our wives had met…..and talked! It’s like the secret handshake. We don’t belong to that club. But I learned long ago that the true need my wife has for the number of pairs of shoes she owns in no way compares to my childish desire for more tools. Just sayin’

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3791 days

#5 posted 04-21-2012 12:24 AM

i got a magazine with this very test drive.
blue spruce/ pros-excellant steel,great feel, con-no hoop for pounding
barrs/ pros- feel, price, con- steel doesn’t hold up well
lie-nielson/ pro- voted best over all- great feel,excellant steel, horn beam takes a beating, con- price. but cheaper than blue spruce.
the blue spruce is the coolest,with cocobolo handles.

View PCM's profile


135 posts in 3853 days

#6 posted 04-21-2012 01:30 AM

I own the LN chisels. First they are extremely well balanced and feel like they are an extension of your hand (my prior set was the Marples Blue Chip, so I know where you are coming from). Second they are ready to use (though I gave them a light honing) the backs are flat and they are extremely sharp out of the box. Third, they hold their edge extremely well. Fourth, there is an aesthetic value in using such a well balance and manufactured hand tool. The down side is their cost, but if you can afford them they are worth it.

View TDog's profile


235 posts in 3038 days

#7 posted 04-21-2012 02:17 AM

Thanks for your responses. I am thinking the LN because I would rather work on projects and sharpen less. Plus I am trying to stay with American Made. I teach US History so I’m shamelessly patriotic.
Now where’s that piggy bank?

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

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 3501 days

#8 posted 04-21-2012 03:25 AM

Jim, way to shoot straight.

I decided to keep working with mine for a while after I watched a cabinetmaker who was far superior to me doing incredible paring and dovetail work with the same Marples chisels I use. I find that I am happier with them if I always put them away sharp. A quick strop is usually all it takes, unless I do some chopping.

I’ve handled the Lie Nielsen chisels, and I must say that they are glorious.

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3286 days

#9 posted 04-21-2012 09:29 AM

you know There was a blog on here where a guy busted off the tacky blue handles and he turned some lovely handles and ferules were cooper pipe here they are
Click for details: New Handles for Marples Chisels
also if you need to buy some chisels Veritas will be releasing a new set soon made of a new kind of steel they are supposed to be great and at a great price point. 99 percent of my chisels are antiques I buy them at antique stores and on eBay they don’t make them like the used too I have several firmer and mortice chisels from the 1800s

-- Please check out my new stores and

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3100 days

#10 posted 04-21-2012 11:32 AM

Ballew Saw & Tool in Springfield, MO may still have some Blue Marples made in Sheffield England—you can call them at 417-865-7511 and check before ordering if that might interest you. Otherwise, you might check out the Ashley Iles Mk2 Beveled Edge Bench Chisels at—I’ve been impressed with these chisels (although I have a set of Lie Nielsen). Good luck.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View rejo55's profile


190 posts in 3050 days

#11 posted 04-21-2012 12:39 PM

Y’all are killing me, talking about Veritas, Lie-Nielsen, Three Cherries, Marples, not to even mention in the same sentence those beautiful Damascus steel Japanese chisels. Hell, I’m still slobbering over that set of two- a 9/16” and a 1-3/8” that I saw in that HF flier.
a1Jim and DavidRoberts, I have been married to Miss Honey Ma’am for over 56 years and I know that she hasn’t met either of your wives. She didn’t have to. This is a “woman thang”. Several years ago I was perusing the Harbor freight flier that came in the mail and casually mentioned that I would like to have a set of nice chisels like these here. She said, “What fer?” I said that I would like to try my hand at chopping out some dovetails. She said, “Well, you got a chainsaw and a axe. Wouldn’t that be a lot faster? Besides, what good are dovetails? You can’t eat’um.”

Y’all have a good’un


-- rejo55, East Texas

View JuniorJoiner's profile


497 posts in 4248 days

#12 posted 04-21-2012 02:15 PM

I have quite a few chisels, and most of ones you’ve discussed.
I would buy chisels individually, not as a set, and i find i use my blue spruce chisels for all my fine work.
I have the lie-nielsen as my everyday bench chisels. and I wish they were O-1. i have the A-2 LN.
there is always the road of making your own chisels. just need some O-1 tool steel, hacksaw, a grinder and a torch.
I have made a few of my own chisels now, and I am very pleased with them. plus, it is no trouble to make a custom chisel when the need arises.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View TDog's profile


235 posts in 3038 days

#13 posted 04-21-2012 03:03 PM

The newly handled Marples from one of the above comments look great, I must say, it’s a wooden handle thing for me and I do like getting that fine honed edge on the chisels. I am thinking …get a LN single chisel and work with it, sharpen up my marples set again…and work more learning hand joinery, the awesome thing I think is to eventually do exceptional work (I’m a beginner and love handwork) with tuned reg. tools and then consider upgrading…considering delving into the G and G chest on a link I’ve seen…to learn and improve and learn and improve…

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

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4294 days

#14 posted 04-21-2012 03:46 PM

The thing about bench chisels is if they are made of good quality steel, you keep them sharp, I mean crazy sharp (keep a strop or 4000 to 6000 grit stone by your side and swipe it every few minutes), they should only need a light pounding, and most of the time hand pressure should be sufficient for most applications. Easier said than done. Bench chisel are designed for paring, squaring and cleanup work. A firmer chisel is the tool to bear down for heavy chopping. They have square, not beveled sides, are thicker for additional strength, and take a higher angle, which is desirable for chopping a mortise in say 4/4 oak or walnut. So really, the blue Marples are perfect as a bench chisel. I’ve own a set I bought at least 20 years ago. Now if you want an American made tool to go in the garage and drool over (I have that urge most every day) then LN, cry once.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View TDog's profile


235 posts in 3038 days

#15 posted 04-21-2012 08:48 PM

Thanks for the helpful information davidroberts.
I have two firmer chisels that I can start doing my chopping with and then sharpen and maintain my blue chippers. They have acetone handles which i was told that they last longer with pouiding.

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

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