Stanley "yellow handle" #60 chisels--- Good budget chisel set?

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Forum topic by Svdharma posted 10-19-2017 01:20 PM 13952 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 1554 days

10-19-2017 01:20 PM

Hello all! I’m new to the forum. I have a decent amount of woodworking experiance but not a ton with hand tools. I’m loosing access to to my shop though, so I’m going to learn!

My first purchase for my hand tool collection was a set of Stanley #60 chisels, the ubiquitous ones with clear yellow and black handles. I have read all the advice pointing towards either marples or narex chisels as decent budget chisels but I ended up in a research rabbit hole that led me to buy a set of stanley #60’s for $30 instead, and I think that model might be a good recommendation as well.

I think the model 60 is currently undervalued by the market, mainly because the plastic handles are reminiscent of the big box store crap that we all hate. However, these chisels where first introduced in the 1930’s when injection molded handles where cutting edge. The original price was on line with the model 40 “everlast”, which was at the top of the market and is now sought after. The handles are comfortable (IMO) and nearly indestructible, which was their main selling point. The blades are well shaped, and I like the way they hone and retain an edge (although I am by no means an expert). I have seen conflicting reports about how well they keep an edge, though, so maybe the newer ones are not as good. They are pretty short, which is a matter of preference (not sure if I like that or not). Obviously they are very common, so scoring cheap ones at flea markets should be easy.

I brought this up because I think it gives people on a budget another option for a solid set of bench chisels. I’d like to hear opinions about these chisels, I know practically everyone has used one at some time or another. I haven’t used a nice chisel in a long time, so I won’t have anything to compare with when they get here.

For those unfamiliar, pics:

First image is a set of standard Stanley #60’s. Second image is what I bought, Stanley #60’s rebranded for Montgomery Ward. I liked the handle on the Ward ones, and they where a bit cheaper without the Stanley name.

19 replies so far

View Andre's profile (online now)


5003 posts in 3140 days

#1 posted 10-19-2017 04:11 PM

Have never tried them because really do not like plastic handles, find them to slippery? Have a few vintage Bergs and
not a fan of the feel. I do have a cheap set of Husky chisels from Home Depot that are actually not bad, don’t hold an edge like a Stanley Sweetheart but for $5 a chisel, not a big problem or worry to throw them into a tool box.
Another Chisel that is very under rated is the Footprint from England, they used to have Wood handles but think the newer ones are plastic? They are decent steel and hold an Edge as well as the new Stanley Sweethearts IMO.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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14359 posts in 5431 days

#2 posted 10-19-2017 04:21 PM

There is a set of work zone chisels with wood handles from Aldi Grocery store that people are raving about. This is the company. I think the set is sub $10.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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4032 posts in 4305 days

#3 posted 10-19-2017 05:19 PM

My first chisels were these #60s back in 1965. Still have them. Would have a set if I could find them. They take a nice edge and hold it well. My only reservation about these chisels is they are too short. Not a problem sometimes, but in general I like the Marples just because they are longer.

By the way, the big box store, yellow handle chisels try to imitate the Stanleys, not the other way around.

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1767 posts in 2970 days

#4 posted 10-19-2017 05:40 PM

I have a set I have been using for many years. They were a gift. They work ok. I agree that the handles are short but that hasn’t been a real issue for me.

-- A bad day woodworking is still better than a good day working.

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6445 posts in 3545 days

#5 posted 10-19-2017 06:50 PM

I have several that get used with regularity. A couple have been reground into skew chisels for cleaning up dovetails and they work great. The short blade and handle is an advantage there and, as you mentioned, used ones are cheap and easy to find, so I didn’t mind grinding them into skews.

Not sure I would want to use a full set as my main users, mostly because I like wooden handles, but there is no reason not to go that route if you are OK with the plastic.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

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6 posts in 1554 days

#6 posted 10-19-2017 08:53 PM

Here’s a 50’s catalog showing 60’s and 61’s (the ones I got are 61’s)

I could see these getting turned into skew chisels or becoming my beaters someday, as I frequent swap meets so I’ll eventually gather a set of witherbys or the like. I could also see myself making a set of wood handles for them, but to be honest I kinda kinda like the feel of the plastic ones and I bet it transmits a mallet blow much more effectively than wood. The handles on the 60’s are a bit unwieldy though, so I’d probably replace those with wood pretty quickly if I had them.

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30435 posts in 4017 days

#7 posted 10-19-2017 09:28 PM

Then you would have to build a rack to hold a set..
BTDT, I now have two of the Aldi’s sets, one will be fore paring, the other for chopping…

The Stanley set is now in a drawer, in case they would be needed…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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6 posts in 1554 days

#8 posted 10-19-2017 09:40 PM

I have a rack in the works… actually what I am going to do is drill shallow 3/4” diameter holes along the edge of the bench that I haven’t built yet and glue high power magnets in the bottom of each one, with felt circles glued over the magnets for protection. Then whichever ones I am using will hang there while the rest stay in the leather tool wrap that I also have not made yet.

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30435 posts in 4017 days

#9 posted 10-19-2017 09:46 PM

As for that drawer..

I made a small cabinet for under the bench…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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6 posts in 1554 days

#10 posted 10-19-2017 10:02 PM

I’m moving into a 500 square foot condo, so my bench is going to be my tool chest and coffee table as well. I haven’t got the luxury to dedicate a whole drawer to chisels :-P. It’s going to be a big shock as I currently work in a 5000sqft shared shop with every tool under the sun.

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10863 posts in 2820 days

#11 posted 10-20-2017 01:02 AM

They’ll work.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Nels's profile


50 posts in 2963 days

#12 posted 01-01-2021 12:53 PM

I’m kinda late in this blog, but I wanted to put in my one cent (probably not worth 2 cents). I started carpentry/woodworking in 1973. The #60 chisels were the only decent chisel I knew about. Since then I have had a liking for plastic handled, steel topped chisels. The date of the beginning of #60’s sounds in 1930, about right. There is almost nothing out there from collectors on plastic handled chisels. I’ve found that Stanley stamped the chisel information on the upper part of the steel shank somewhere before 1960

. They also had a larger steel cap. I wonder how many others were made by Stanley. I’ve found Miller Falls and Blue Grass chisels that are similiar. I also have a set of Defiance by Stanley chisels with plastic and a steel cap. The #40 chisels have longer shanks but contrary to what I’ve heard, the shank doesn’t go to the steel cap. The #40’s seem to have been made for schools. I’ve had trouble with the black plastic breaking down and made rosewood handles for a couple of them. The pictures are of the Defiance, #40, #60, my toolbox chisels, and the reworked #40 with a rosewood handle.

View Kirk650's profile


743 posts in 2082 days

#13 posted 01-01-2021 03:22 PM

I have a set of black plastic handled chisels that are, I think, Craftsman though they might be Stanley. I’ve had them for forever. They have the steel cap at the end of the handle. The steel holds an edge pretty well, and those chisels get the real hard jobs (door mortises and such) that I don’t want to attack with my ‘good’ chisels. I think they are indestructible. Not much good though for fine work like dovetails due to the chisel shape at the edges.

View Johnny7's profile


738 posts in 2424 days

#14 posted 01-01-2021 11:03 PM

Make no mistake—the “plastic handled” Stanleys are excellent chisels, and depending on your projects, may be all you ever need. The vintage ones hold an edge AND can take a beating.

I have (2) working sets, along with a bunch of NOS spares. Pictured below is one set and my emergency back-up set from the 80s, still factory sealed.

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169 posts in 1795 days

#15 posted 01-01-2021 11:08 PM

500 square feet!!!!!

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