Need paring knives--a set-- for an upcoming hand tool joinery class--recommendations?

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Forum topic by Axle505 posted 11-09-2016 04:30 PM 722 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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143 posts in 2287 days

11-09-2016 04:30 PM

Not rich—but I don’t want to buy cheap. $250 to $350-ish. I guess sets are easiest to find new. But, a good set is what I really want—even good used or NOS. ‘Will be used for dovetailing, I imagine. All help is appreciated.

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile


11499 posts in 5100 days

#1 posted 11-09-2016 06:25 PM

do you mean chisels?

Pretty decent sets can be had for under $100.
The next step above that is chisels in the
$50-$100 each price range. Fine chisels
are nice to work with for sure and most
of the pricier ones hold edges better than
the cheaper chrome vanadium steel used in
more affordable sets.

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143 posts in 2287 days

#2 posted 11-09-2016 07:47 PM

Interesting. I just looked at a Pfeil set that used vanadium.

View Loren's profile


11499 posts in 5100 days

#3 posted 11-09-2016 08:17 PM

It’s real rust resistant and sharpens easily but
doesn’t hold an edge as well, imo, as high
carbon steel and some of these newer steels
used by Lee Valley and other chisel suppliers.

I don’t have a problem with tool rust in my
climate so I haven’t noticed my high carbon
chisels rusting but I’m sure in a more humid
area it could be aggravating. Rust attacks
edges too, microscopically so I can put a
chrome vanadium chisel with a honed edge
in a drawer for a year and it will still be sharp
when I take it out again.

There’s this stuff called camelia oil sold from
Japan for tools and swords that some woodworkers
swear by for rust prevention.

Check out the fancy steels used on Lee Valley
chisels. I have one and it’s a nice enough chisel
but I don’t like the way it looks too much personally
and it’s a little lightweight for my taste. I have
some Barr chisels too and while they are pricey
they really hold an edge and I enjoy the heft of
them. Japan chisels can offer a lot of edge
quality for the money, though some are very
pricey even the modestly priced ones are made
with quite hard high carbon steel cutting edges
welded to a low carbon back to absorb shock.

View Axle505's profile


143 posts in 2287 days

#4 posted 11-09-2016 09:17 PM

Thanks—yeah, I have seen the new metal that Lee Valley is making. I bought a shoulder plane from them, however, with their “traditional metal” (I forget it’s name) and have been impressed with it.

Anyway, I’m noticing that there are “dovetail chisels” and “paring chisels” (and “beveled-edge chisels” being sold with the other two that are shorter…). There are long chisels—that look like paring chisels but seem oddly able to be struck from the ends—I though that paring chisels were not supposed to be struck. And there is an animal called a “crank neck”....

I also just read Paul Seller’s article “Buying Good Tools Cheap—Starter Chisels UK” (<https: />)—and now I really don’t know what a paring chisels is anymore—not harping on Mr. Sellers’ excellent read.

I may be over-thinking this thing.

View Loren's profile


11499 posts in 5100 days

#5 posted 11-09-2016 09:25 PM

Paring chisels are traditionally chisels with
long, thin blades, and usually beveled edges
to get into dovetail and other joint corners.

A 10” blade paring chisel can get 10” into
a sawn dado or sliding dovetail. These days
with power tools doing such a neat job cutting
these joints those long chisels may not get
as much use. Crank-necked paring chisels
can trim out the bottom of a groove of unlimited

I don’t have any proper paring chisels with
the super long blades but I do have some crank
neck Buck bros paring chisels and they are lots
of fun to work with. For cutting dovetails you
just need regular bench chisels and some people
like me prefer ones on the shorter side like the
Barr and Japan ones… get my hands closer to
the work. When I’m hitting the chisel with
a hammer I like the shorter chisels too, they’re
a little easier to steer.

I like to use a steel hammer instead of a mallet
so I prefer hooped handles.

View simmo's profile


80 posts in 4924 days

#6 posted 11-09-2016 09:31 PM

Yep you are over thinking it , just get the best chisels your budget allows, paring chisels are just longer chisels for cutting into longer reach places, the main thing is that whatever you use is sharp, oilstone abrasive paper diamond stones etc all achieve the same effect, cutting wood ,fingers, fums etc, no Zen required,it is highly unlikely you will need to use these tools to feed your family, used vintage tools are usually good ,avoid those with pitting on the back, you will be amazed how much can be achieved with the minimum of tools.Good luck with dovetailing, don’t forget that before you dovetail anything it must be flat , paralell and usually square, trust me it won’t be bought like that,

View CB_Cohick's profile


493 posts in 2703 days

#7 posted 11-10-2016 02:08 PM

I expect for a hand tool joinery class, the number of chisels you need will be minimal. So, I’d get some nice Lie Nielsens. 1/4”, 1/2”, and maybe a fishtail for getting corners.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

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