Massive Mortise Chisels - Excellent Quality!

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Review by jusfine posted 06-16-2013 03:04 AM 7456 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Massive Mortise Chisels - Excellent Quality! Massive Mortise Chisels - Excellent Quality! No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

The first photo and description of the set of chisels from Lee Valley website is as follows, which gives some of the technical details.

These are massive chisels for quickly wasting material from deep mortises. The 1/2” thick, high-carbon steel blades (Rc61) taper in width from tip to shoulder for sidewall clearance when cutting deep mortises. The 6-1/2” hooped hornbeam handles are oversize for grip and have leather shock washers.

About 13” to 14” long overall, these are hefty tools.

Made in Germany.

The handles are huge, takes a bit of getting used to, but once you spend some time with them, they are very enjoyable to work with. If you have small hands, you may want to pass on them.

Comparison to the same size in a Narex mortise chisel.

I do like the flat spot on the Narex handles, I found the large round handles of the Hirsch tended to want to roll when I laid the chisels down (especially the smallest one – 1/4”).

Also liked the addition of the leather shock washers, seems to absorb a good amount of the impact in the handle.

The only negative thing is the tiny plastic / silicone covers for the chisel ends – I already lost or vacuumed up one of them. Would have appreciated more substantial end protection, perhaps a heavy plastic cap.

Of course, this could be resolved with a dedicated drawer for them…

Overall, I would highly recommend them. I used the chisels to complete the mortises required on my new workbench built this past winter.

Very nice to use, easy to work with, and hard to misplace with the bright yellow handles!

I did buy mine one at a time over a period of a few months from Lee Valley, they ranged in price from $45.00 to $55.00.
They are available in sizes from 1/4” to 5/8” (actually sized and labeled in mm).

If I have not covered something you wish to know, please let me know and I would be happy to add my thoughts!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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8 comments so far

View Brandon's profile


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#1 posted 06-16-2013 03:09 AM

The Narex mortise chisels don’t seem that small to me, so I was very surprised to see how diminutive they look in comparison to the Hirsch chisels. Wow, those chisels are huge! I have big hands, so I might want to try them out, though I never thought of my Narex ones as insufficient. Thanks for posting this, Randy.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3694 days

#2 posted 06-16-2013 03:15 AM

You are welcome Brandon! The photo of me holding the Narex doesn’t really make them look too small, but once you try the larger grip, I think you will enjoy the size difference.

One of my horses broke my right hand some years ago, so I have a bit of difficulty closing and keeping pressure on a tool for any length of time – these are a pleasure to use as the handles are so big I can hardly miss hitting them with the hammer… :)

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View felkadelic's profile


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#3 posted 06-16-2013 03:16 AM

How are they compared to the Narex mortise chisels?

View a1Jim's profile


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#4 posted 06-16-2013 03:20 AM

Thanks for the review.


View Don W's profile

Don W

19615 posts in 3336 days

#5 posted 06-16-2013 01:07 PM

Good review Randy. I could have used these yesterday. I broke the handle on one of my vintage and then one of my cheaper chisels. Time for something more substantial. I’d say these are more substantial.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3694 days

#6 posted 06-16-2013 03:56 PM


I think the biggest differences between the two brands is the size of the handles and quality of the steel – the Narex does not keep an edge as long as the Hirsch.

Otherwise, for smaller mortises, the Narex would be fine. Now that I have used the Hirsch, I prefer the substantial overall feel and would probably choose them, except for making a very small mortise.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View planeBill's profile


506 posts in 3177 days

#7 posted 06-19-2013 04:04 PM

I bought the 6mm and 10mm to chop 96 mortices in my headboard and footboard and was very disappointed with these chisels. My bedroom is all cherry and these chisels chipped badly. The edge was and remains very brittle it seems. I’ve sharpened them several times and changed the bevel angle and all of the normal remedies and they remain the same. Im glad yours seem to be better quality.

-- I was born at a very young age, as I grew up, I got older.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3694 days

#8 posted 06-19-2013 04:46 PM


I am very surprised the chisels would chip badly in cherry – most of my work with them was in beech and paduak and I had one very minor chip which sharpened out easliy when I touched them up.

Had you spoken with your supplier or the manufacturer? Maybe yours were from a defective batch – it happens.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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