O1 vs A2

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Review by DouginVa posted 06-11-2013 01:34 AM 9633 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
O1 vs A2 O1 vs A2 O1 vs A2 Click the pictures to enlarge them

This past Christmas I put the Lie Nielsen bevel edge socket chisels on my Santa Please Get Me List. Between my wife and mom I got 5….....of the O1 chisels. My bad, I should have been more specific. I already had a set of decent chisels from long ago and although I didn’t know for sure what type of tool steel they were made from I was disappointed in how long, or briefly in this case, they held a sharp edge. After reading many reivews on the A2 chisels I decided that was what I really wanted.

But I got the O1s and thought they were from Lie Nielsen so they’d have to be better than what I had. WRONG….O1 tool steel is O1 tool steel no matter who’s name is on it. I blogged and asked around if they should be holding their edge longer, etc. Most of the replies were to give them several sharpenings till you wear away the weaker steel at the outer edges and got to the harder stuff buried beneath. Well after a good 10 sharpenings, micro bevels, re-shaping the bevel nothing changed.

I went to a Lie Nielsen hand tool event and ran my dilema by the LN folks at the event. They said send em back. But it had been over 4 months at this point. They said it didn’t matter. So I e-mailed LN and the guys at the hand tool event were right. Took em back, no questions asked. Thanks to Deneb Pulchaski!

So I got my new A2 set just a few days before I was set to head off to Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School for the Compound Dovetail class to break em in. And the difference was very noticeable.

Some people prefer O1 becaus of they’re supposed to be easier to sharpen. As opposed to the A2 which are supposed to be more difficult. While that may be true I didn’t find the A2s difficult to hone, polish or put a micro bevel on.

I am most pleased with these chisels and Lie Nielsen’s customer service. They’ve made a future customer in me for many years to come now. Now I just need to save up some $$$s to increase my LN hand tool collection.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View DouginVa's profile


501 posts in 3046 days

5 comments so far

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4064 days

#1 posted 06-11-2013 01:44 AM

Was there any advantage to the softer O1? Did they cut any better?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View DouginVa's profile


501 posts in 3046 days

#2 posted 06-11-2013 01:53 AM

Not that I noticed. Other users may think differently, but keeping an edge sharper longer is more important to me.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4421 days

#3 posted 06-11-2013 04:42 PM

good experience with LN- one of the better companies out there..

just as a side note (not to take away from A2 keeping an edge longer than O1) – not all O1 tool steel is the same. there is crappy O1, and there is quality O1 just like with everything else in life.

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

View mikema's profile


180 posts in 3359 days

#4 posted 06-13-2013 01:54 PM

If it is good O1 tool steel, you can get them sharper then A2 steel, but the edge does not hold as long. I personally prefer the harder A2 steel as I am not having to sharpen it as often, and I can still get the edges very sharp.

-- Mike ---- Visit my woodworking blog:

View StephenPrunier's profile


19 posts in 2834 days

#5 posted 06-15-2013 12:01 AM

I have the A2 set with the 1/8. The set now comes with the 3/16 instead. You made a great choice! I love L.N. Matter of fact, I received some more stuff from them today! I work with hand tools 98% of the time, so in the long run for me, the higher cost is worth the investment because of the quality and customer service.

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