How much to spend to get a good chisel set?

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Forum topic by itsme_timd posted 12-14-2007 09:26 PM 1733 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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690 posts in 4100 days

12-14-2007 09:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question chisel

Right now I’ve got a $2.00 Wally-World chisel that won’t sharpen so I know I need a better set.

I’ve seen them run anywhere from the $2.00 set to $300.00 sets. Well, I don’t have $300.00 to spend on chisels but wanted to know what a good brand, price, etc. is for chisels. I saw a Buck Bros. set for $20.00 and an Irwin set for $40.00 (4 in each set) and then there’s the Lie Nielsen set…

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

16 replies so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4232 days

#1 posted 12-14-2007 09:36 PM

I just got a set of $29.95 Marples at HD. They seem about average. I got them to beat the crap out of. The Irwins, which used to be Marples, were Frank Klauss’ pick a while back. They’re the blue handled ones. I would go with them and give them a try. If they don’t work you aren’t out a fortune.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4443 days

#2 posted 12-14-2007 09:44 PM

The Irwin/Marples set w/the blue handles are a good beginner (intermediate, advanced) set and won’t break the bank. They’ve been reviewed well by Woodworking Magazine and Frank Klausz.

If you can find a Woodcraft near you, they usually have six or eight piece boxed sets (for $65 and $85, respectively, sans shipping). If you don’t have one near you, you can still get them on-line, but you’d have to pay a little more for the shipping charges. That would give you a complete set, with a storage box, that would last you through many years of woodworking.

-- Ethan,

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4144 days

#3 posted 12-14-2007 09:49 PM

I picked up the same set as Thos this summer. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the quality. Certainly not the best chisels you could own, but really pretty good. Rockler has them on sale right now, although with shipping you might just go to the BORG.

-- -- --

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 4100 days

#4 posted 12-14-2007 09:52 PM

Thanks guys. I actually do have a Woodcraft store close by and will check that out.

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4260 days

#5 posted 12-15-2007 02:39 PM

Got a 6 pack set from Craftsman Professional for like, around $30.00. Surprisingly, they’ve held up for over two years of use. They take and hold an edge well too. Gave my old Stanley 3 pack set to my son as he had at one time used them to cut a bolt on his car. Had to do some serious grinding on that particular one but it’s good to go again. The biggest thing to look out for is that the metal goes all the way thru the handle ending in a “striking head”. The Stanleys don’t and the handle will eventually come apart.

Here’s the Craftsmans link:

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4383 days

#6 posted 12-15-2007 04:40 PM

I have a couple Irwin/Marples and they are good. I also have some from Lie Nielesn, and they hold their edge for a very long time. You get what you pay for, most of the time. I couldn’t afford a whole set from Lie Nielesn either, so I buy 1 or 2 every so often.

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4359 days

#7 posted 12-15-2007 04:46 PM

Ditto on the marples. They can handle abuse. I know they have been redesigned though. I have not used the new style.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 4100 days

#8 posted 12-15-2007 04:56 PM

I grabbed a 4 piece Marples set at HD yesterday – I’m going to start a project today that will allow me to try them out.

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4359 days

#9 posted 12-15-2007 05:04 PM

You probably will need to sharpen them.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 4100 days

#10 posted 12-15-2007 05:18 PM

So these need sharpened from brand new, is that correct?

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View Karson's profile


35158 posts in 4670 days

#11 posted 12-15-2007 05:33 PM

Yes Too bad. Unless you but the best Japanese chisels You have to sharpen them

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14180 posts in 4252 days

#12 posted 12-15-2007 06:10 PM

Irwin/Marples work good for me too !

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Harold's profile


310 posts in 4117 days

#13 posted 12-15-2007 06:35 PM

You will need to clean up the edge before you begin, but stones are an investment also. What you can do is stop by a napa or automotive paintstore and by a few sheets of wet sand paper, I would get 400, 600, 800, and 1200. and glue them to a flat surface, I use a sheet of lexan I got at HD. The area that most neglect when sharpening is the back so you have to pay attention to the back as well as the bevel. When you are working the back you can use some pressure, but when working the bevel your focus must be on keeping your bevel flat to the surface. For example I will make 25 passes on the back and then 50 on the bevel, and Progress thru the grits. Now my budget it somewhat challenged, but I bought a felt wheel and arbor from traditional woodworker or maybe lee valley, can’t remember. It is a kit the have that included a little mount to clamp a hand drill to your bench or whathaveyou. WHAT A TIME SAVER! whenever I feel alittle resistance I just hone the back and bevel for a few seconds and keep going, if you can keep them sharp it makes such a difference. the first time sharpening will take some time but go slowy it wil take about 5 minutes per chisel to finish the edge. Now whatever you do, once you have them sharp, DON’T PRY, I chiped the corner off a new parting chisel the first day, I knew what I was doing was wrong, but i was sure I could pop that chip out, needless to say that broken corner will be there for years, a shiny reminder not to pry.
and on that little honing kit for the drill, it came with three soft wheels, but use a hard felt wheel to hone you will have to rig up a bushing to get it mounted to your drill, shoot with alttle thought you could rig up the entire set up, I like it because it’s small and it will run off the small invertor in my truck when I’m out at south point waiting for bell to ring on my fishin pole

-- If knowledge is not shared, it is forgotten.

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 4100 days

#14 posted 12-15-2007 07:38 PM

Some great input here, thanks again to everyone – you’ve all been a big help!


-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View Wooder's profile


163 posts in 4456 days

#15 posted 12-18-2007 03:03 PM

One more comment Tim. I have an “old” set of Marples and a new set of Irwins, a bunch of old re-habed flea market ones also. I use all these for everything, except mortice work.

This is where IMHO, you should get picky. Most of my mortice work is 1/4 or 3/8, soooo I got a Robert Sorby registered mortice chisel for those sizes. Got as much in those 2 as I do all my others. But that way you only buy the hi $$$$ ones for what you need.

2 cents

BTW got the Irwins new on the bay for $28 including shipping. Was a deal…

-- Jimmy

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