A good chisel for 9$ each

  • Advertise with us
Review by lumberjoe posted 06-25-2012 08:05 PM 9752 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A good chisel for 9$ each No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

This is my first set of chisels that are not meant to be smashed with a sledge hammer. I bought these for a few reasons:

1 – they were on sale from 89.99 to 53.99
2 – The Bubinga handles are REALLY well done. Both to look at and they are really comfortable to hold
3 – (According to the woodcraft guy) US Steel and assembled in the US, although the box comes from China.
4 – It had every size I needed
5 – Hardened to RC-59 (same as Narex)

I was originally going to get a set of Stanley SW’s. I even bought a worksharp in anticipation of getting them. A few other items took priority and I ended up spending the money elsewhere. I picked these up on a whim when I was in the store a few weeks ago. I wasn’t expecting them to perform miracles, let’s face it they are low end chisels, however they are nice. It took me a while on the worksharp. First I practiced on some buck brothers chisels I now use to scrape glue off my work bench. Once I got the hang of it, I went to town. I got the backs flat (that took a while) and I got the angles ground to 25 degrees on all of them. I got the worksharp on amazon and they had a deal which included the leather wheel. That did a great job at taking the burr off.

I had cut some mortises in some oak for some end tables with a router. I had not squared them off yet. My first impression was “if these are the cheapest chisels I can get, I really want to see what a good chisel can do!”. I was able to square them very easily and very accurately. The cuts were amazing clean. The handles feel really nice in your hand. The chisels are heavy and have a good heft to them. I’d be interested to see how long they keep an edge, but from my experience and what I read, read oak is tough on steel. That chisel still held it’s edge with no rolling on the 8th mortise as well as the first. That’s not much, but that enough to turn my buck brothers “chisel” into a card scraper.

My only complaints are:
1 – I don’t know how satisfied I would be if I took these to wood right out of the box. They needed a lot of work. From what I understand, most chisels do, so be prepared.
2 – The box is throw way, but looks pretty nice at least. However that is just an excuse for another project. I bought chisels, not a box. Plus now I have a template for the new one!
3 – The “wood river” logo etched into one of the chisels is really blurry. Obviously that is cosmetic, but it points to quality control (or lack there of). If I was the QC guy, that would have easily gone in the “do over” pile and not in the box.

I gave this 3 stars because everything I know about chisels comes from theory and not practice. I am by no means an expert. With that said, I almost think I should have given them 4 stars. I can’t imagine what a better cutting chisel would feel like. These do exactly what I would expect a really good chisel to do.

Edit 7/25/2012. After a significant amount of use, I had to bump this to 4 stars. These chisels still have the original edge I put on them, and still cut like champs every time I use them; and I have been using them a lot lately.


View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3055 days

11 comments so far

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 3183 days

#1 posted 06-25-2012 10:36 PM

Thanks for the review. I was looking at this set considering it for purchase also. I just might get them now to start with. Only because i can’t afford the SW set either.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3855 days

#2 posted 06-26-2012 02:06 PM

Good review Joe.

-- Bert

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9599 posts in 3135 days

#3 posted 06-26-2012 05:22 PM

US Steel and assembled in the US, although the box comes from China

If this was in fact the case…. I wonder why they didn’t bother to capitalize on the marketing potential of saying that on the chisel or the packaging.

None the less…. they look like nice chisels and I bet they will serve you well for years to come.

I was sereiously looking at the same set two months ago, but instead I bought a couple individual chisels to round out my Marples Splitproof 4 pc set. If they had been on sale back then, I would have taken a set home.

Enjoy…. they are really nice looking chisels. I’d think, based on your description, they rate more than 3 stars.

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

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3055 days

#4 posted 06-26-2012 05:48 PM

I said the same thing. I actually had 2 Irwin blue chips in my hand at the check out when he showed me this set. I needed some decent chisels to finish a project and wasn’t intending on buying a set just yet. The Irwins are Chinese steel. and the wood river are not.While 99% of the stuff I own is made in china and I usually don’t have a problem with it, I do have a problem with Chinese hand tools. You can’t beat British or Colonial steel. I’ve heard the Japanese chisels are great as well.

Also I rated them 3 stars because essentially I have never used a chisel before. This is what I was using before the wood river:

Those are a joke. They are now for cleaning up glue and getting nails out. I don’t think I am experienced enough to say these are 4 stars, but I can tell you I was amazed at how little effort it took for me to get very clean and very square cuts.


View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4494 days

#5 posted 06-27-2012 03:15 PM

I stopped by W.Springfield WoodCraft yesterday to have a look at them and they were sold out.
They also had a 24” straight edge on sale that I wanted , but it was sold out ,so I got a rain check for that item.

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

View Brian Strothcamp's profile

Brian Strothcamp

114 posts in 3499 days

#6 posted 06-27-2012 05:37 PM

I own these… would give them a 4 definately… backs needed a lot of flattening but i can shave my fingerprints after sharpening with a microbevel using the Veritas MKII and Norton water stones up to 6000

they hold the edge what I would consider a moderate amount of time… however if you have your sharpening set up ready to go at all times it only takes a few rubs and you are back like new.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3055 days

#7 posted 06-27-2012 07:06 PM

Thanks Brian. It did take a bit of work to sharpen them, especially the 1”. Good to know that whipping them back into shape is significantly easier, provided I don’t nick them.

Speaking of which, I know why the handles are not completely round. one of them decided to roll on the bench after I sharpened it. If the handle was completely round, it would have kissed concrete, and I would have been a less than happy camper.

Dusty, I got the last set :) It was actually the display


View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2997 days

#8 posted 06-27-2012 10:17 PM

The best chisels are dollar store chisels…. Buy a couple hundred ( I should say a couple few) and hone them a few times, then you can use them a few times, then chuck them out..
A Dollar store Chisel I bought was actually better then one of my Irwin Marple chisels, Probably because that Marple Chisel wasn’t tapered properly, but, at least it worked.

-- My terrible signature...

View skennedy's profile


9 posts in 2976 days

#9 posted 06-28-2012 01:47 AM

I too own a set of these and have found that once the initial flattening and sharpening is done, they work really well. I’ve used then on several types and densities of hardwoods and have not been disappointed with them. Due to the amount of work getting them sharp, I would give them a 4 star rating…not as good as my Pfeil chisels but way better than others I have used.

-- Shawn Kennedy

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4559 days

#10 posted 06-29-2012 10:58 AM

I have the set of Butt Chisels and I love them.

View Infernal2's profile


107 posts in 3003 days

#11 posted 07-01-2012 03:22 AM

I just got these in today and spent the afternoon sharpening and honing them. All were fairly reasonable except the 1”, whose back has the hollow issue that Mads had run into. It tooks a good deal longer than the others to address but once flat, I was impressed by the quality. These are by no means of the same quality as my weird, Cyrillic stamped butt chisels but they are leaps and bounds over my old Marples metal backed chisels.


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