Fine Irwin's I'll Try Your Chisels!

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Blog entry by Brad posted 02-28-2012 07:42 AM 2738 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve known for some time that my nameless chisel set would have to go. I’m not even sure where they came from but I have a sneaking suspicion they came from Harbor Freight because the look like they have one foot in the grave and their edge crumbles like dry dirt at the mere sight of mortise that needs cleaning up. So while at Rockler for their “Brown Bag” sale last Saturday I picked up this set of 4 chisels for $29.99. The overall construction seems solid. My plan is to first flatten the backs this weekend, and put a secondary 5 microbevel on the already ground 25 primary bevel. I will admit that the woodworker in me feel somewhat uncomfortable with a chisel that has a plastic handle and not a wood one it’s like seeing Sylvester Stalone attempt a romantic scene in an action flick… awkward.

Here at the chisel details from Rockler’s website in case you all were wondering.
An excellent chisel set with rugged plastic handles and the incomparable steel blades. The Blue Chip Handles have a ’’ rounded square’’ cross section that fits comfortably in the hand, making the chisel easy to control regardless of the angle of the blade
The Bevel Edge is now the most popular type of general purpose chisel. It is used for chamfering, dovetailing and making clean cuts in tight corners where a firmer chisel would jam.
Set of 4 contains – 1/4’’ , 1/2’’ , 3/4’’ , and 1’’ chisels

Hopefully these chisels will fill in for awhile until I can get my ultimate set of chisels the Two Cherries 6 piece chisel set! But unfortunately at the moment I cannot justify the $170 price tag of this chisel set!

If you’re looking for a great book on sharpening I’d totally recommend the book below it’s fantastic and has alot of great full color photography in it! Ron Hock does a great job taking you from square 1 to hair shaving sharp edges.

The Perfect Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers

-- Brad --

5 comments so far

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3491 days

#1 posted 02-28-2012 08:38 AM

these chisels have been around for a long time they were part of one of the marples chisel company I forgot the dudes first name but these have been called the ford Torres of chisels it aint to pretty but it will get you there I have several of the Marples versions now your handle delema there was a blog on here about a guy that broke off the plastic handles and made nice handles and Ferrels i have used mine for a long tome i also have other old chisels Stanley and a slew of sorby chisels the old ones are my favorite you can find them cheep on ebay

-- Please check out my new stores and

View Nighthawk's profile


557 posts in 3369 days

#2 posted 02-28-2012 09:48 AM

I have a set of Irwin and Stanely chisels (both with plastic handles) had them for years and they keep on going the steal is good quality and goes up through the handle. The plastic is also not that cheap crap that you get on some cheap screw drivers that would shatter the first hit you give it… Over all my chisels have had a hammering and keep on ticking errr chiseling… I have broken splintered many over the years, wooden, plastic high quailty low quality,

As for the wooden handles or plastic handles or fibre, to me as long as if it is comfortable in the hand and is not going to shatter or splinter I don’t care… I have found that with wooden handles I have had to replace more often, I now just throw them out and go buy a new chisel… but thats just me…

The most important part is the steel has to be of good quaility to hold its edge.

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3488 days

#3 posted 02-28-2012 02:14 PM

I have a set of this chisels. They are great for working on site. You have to flatten the back, mine came a bit crooked on the back but otherwise, for the price they cannot be beat. At the shop I use japanese chisels, on site I take the Irwin, I don’t care if some idiot decides to open a can or drop the chisel.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 3461 days

#4 posted 02-28-2012 10:51 PM

I anxiously await hearing how these hold up, and how sharp they really get.

I was looking at a set of these, but after noticing the steel was “Chrome-Vanadium”, I decided to pass. I picked up a set of Stanley Fat-Max’s as a temporary solution’ and to have a nice set of “beater chisels” once I finally upgrade tosomething nice. I’m not positive what tyhe Stanley’s have for steel, but they are made in Sheffield, England, a major plus in my book. i didn’t buy all that are available, just 1/4”, 1/2”, 3/4”, 1” and a 2” monster, which I figure may come in handy. The best part, I got all five for just under $20 on Ebay, except the 2” which came from Lowes on clearance. They also take a very good edge, and hold it well too. That 2” beast was a pain to flatten, though it was very close to begin with. But still, flattening that much hard steel is a bit of a bear.
All in all, I really like them. They have a nice rubber and plastic grip and a through-tang construction, which should hold up to even the most brutal mallet blows without complaint.

My reasoning for passing up the Irwins is due to the Cr-V steel, as Cr-V has a much larger grain size than a high-carbon steel would, and thus it simply is not possible to achieve as fine an edge. Will they get sharp enough for general use? Oh heck yes! But he price was more than I wanted to pay, since I do want a nice set of chisels made
from good steel.

Most “normal” people would be fine with the Irwins. But I have this ridiculous obsession that tells me I need a set of chisels that will take an edge to rival that of a Dovo straight razor.
And I really want a set of vintage socket chisels too.

-- Kenny

View Brad's profile


135 posts in 4786 days

#5 posted 02-29-2012 06:44 AM

@Kenny very interesting point about the Chrome-Vanadium! I sorta figured these chisels will not by my “forever” chisels so hopefully they keep up at least better than the ones I currently have.

I think the issues with having plastic handles is less a functionality issue I have and more of a nerdy “must have wood handles” issue. It’s sorta like having a hand plane with a plastic handle it just doesn’t make ya feel good inside! Maybe I will replace their handles but for the foreseeable future I’ll just beat them into submission until I loose my mind some night and hit the Amazon purchase button for my set of Two Cherries chisels.

- Brad

-- Brad --

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