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Forum topic by sansoo22 posted 12-21-2020 08:10 PM 1872 views 0 times favorited 51 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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sansoo22

1905 posts in 944 days


12-21-2020 08:10 PM

I posted this question on another forum..not sure why, maybe testing the quality of the community…and was pretty much told I’m an idiot that doesn’t know how to sharpen. And cheap chisels will do anything expensive chisels will. My hand planes beg to differ about the quality of my edged tools. I think I could give many a wood worker a run for there money in that department. I sharpen my chisels the same way I do my plane irons which I assume is sufficient. Never being one to think they know everything I figured I’d ask here. Am I doing something wrong or are these chisels just bad.

The chisels in question are your garden variety Buck Bros. I assume they suck but they were bought as a gift a few years ago so I kept them. I’ve only been wood working for a couple years and now starting to get into hand cut joints.

Here is a close up of 2 chisels. The left had the primary ground on the bench grinder. The right chisel had the primary bevel ground on a 120 grit DMT stone. The gnarly extra extra coarse one. To rule out any accidental heat tempering issues I did my testing with the right chisel. Both chisels have a 25 deg primary and 30 deg secondary bevels and will shave a bald spot in your arm with a single stroke.

Here is the backs of both chisels. The right chisel is still not entirely flat but I’ve removed so much material you can feel a transition so I stopped for now. For flattening I use a combination of a certified granite surface plate and my DMT stones.

Here is a test cut I did of a chunky box joint. Both edges of this board cut rather cleanly. It doesn’t show in the image but both edges are a tad shiny showing signs of a good sheer. By the time I get to the middle we are tearing vs sheering. This wood is at least 100 yrs old and a bit brittle so some tearing is expected.

And to the reveal of what happened to the chisel. I hope it shows in these small images but the crisp clean edge I had is now jagged. Had I attempted to do a second board the edge would have completely rolled to the point you can pick at it with a fingernail.

I want to get better chisels but also want to make sure I’m not expecting too much from premium chisels. I’ve had my eye on the Veritas PM-V11s when we get bonuses in the Spring. In the meantime I was looking at the newer Stanley 750s or even a set of vintage #60s. I’m kind of leaning towards the vintage set because I like having butt chisels around and was hoping they would do the trick to learn with while I wait a bit longer on the fancy Veritas set.


51 replies so far

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Andre

4842 posts in 3095 days


#1 posted 12-21-2020 08:23 PM

Well there are many experts on this site:) so IMHO I would say you lost the temper on the blade, I do have a set of
Husky’s in a tool box that actually hold an edge quite well. I hollow grind on a “hand” powered grinder then sharpen on a 1000 and 8000 Wet stone, may do touch up on a strop with green compound in between putting a new edge on.
Have used the PMV-11 chisels and really was not impressed in how they felt in my hand, not sure that the metal makes up for comfort?

P.S. You really can’t go wrong with either the new SW 750s or vintage:)

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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SMP

4973 posts in 1195 days


#2 posted 12-21-2020 08:27 PM

How many times have you sharpened? Are they made in US Bucks or china? The wood handled Bucks made in MA are actually pretty nice. Some chinese chisels i have needed to grind off some weaker metal to get to the harder metal underneath.

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KYtoolsmith

237 posts in 1149 days


#3 posted 12-21-2020 08:29 PM

Sansoo, My go to chisels are a mix. Most are early Stanley 750s and Stanley Everlast. I also have Pexto, Union and others of similar vintage. I too have a set of Buck yellow plastic handled chisels… They are my “rough work” chisels. The edge holding is quite a bit different! The newer Buck chisels don’t hold a candle to my old chisels. Just like plane irons, modern hardware store tools can’t compare.
Regards, The Kentucky Toolsmith!

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

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sansoo22

1905 posts in 944 days


#4 posted 12-21-2020 08:43 PM


How many times have you sharpened? Are they made in US Bucks or china? The wood handled Bucks made in MA are actually pretty nice. Some chinese chisels i have needed to grind off some weaker metal to get to the harder metal underneath.

- SMP

The chisel I did my testing with has only been sharpened 3 times at most. It’s never been on the grinder so no chance of altering the temper. It does seem to have improved edge retention on this last sharpening. The previous time I used it the edge completely rolled over and this time only went jagged. You might be on to something here. I have one more that hasn’t been on the grinder before and I think I’ve used it once. I will do a comparison and see how its edge holds up.

Thanks KYToolsmith. I was looking at some Everlasts just last night. I want to go vintage 750s but they seem to be on collector price points now. I wanted to order a single Lie Nielsen just to try it out but they are all on back order.

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Robert

4798 posts in 2770 days


#5 posted 12-21-2020 08:47 PM

You’re dealing with carpenters chisels, not ww’ing chisels. That said, they can work, but not very well for something like dovetails. I have an old Stanley chisel that has never seen heat and the edge chips away just like you show, so I think its more to do with the steel than losing its temper.

My very first set of decent chisels were blue handled Irwin Marples. Once I got the backs flat, they are pretty decent chisels. The higher side bevel height (a sure sign of a cruder type chisel) makes them useful to me as “firmer” chisels.

My go to chisels for joinery are Narex premiums. The premium line has a non-ferruled handle and lower side bevel heights. Keep this in mind when looking at them. Either Narex or Stanley 750 will be a major step up for you. Personally, I find the Stanley’s too light and the handles too small.

That said, you can’t go wrong with the Lee Valley (or Lie Nielsen) chisels.

Also, take a look at the Woodriver socket chisels. Cosman recently did a side by side the the Narex Richters. I know they’re a sponsor, but if what he says about them is true, they look like good chisels.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Aj2

4145 posts in 3087 days


#6 posted 12-21-2020 08:54 PM

My guess your going to have to add slightly more angle to defeat that wood. I can see the hard layers with the softer layers in between. To successfully cut wood like that you’ll need to change your approach. Smaller bites and more of a slicing action.
When you have those hard layers of pitch and whatever they bend back enough to chip away your edge when you get through.
I also agree with the idea there’s its possible your steel will get better further in.
Good Luck

-- Aj

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HokieKen

19933 posts in 2428 days


#7 posted 12-21-2020 09:03 PM

I have a set of the new Stanley 750s as my user kit that lives on the bench and I like them quite a lot. They take and hold a good edge and I like the size, weight and handles. I keep a 30 degree bevel on these. They do a lot of grunt work but can also do some paring now and again.

I have several vintage chisels that I bought onesie-twosie here and there. The ones I am most partial to are E.A. Bergs. I keep a 20 degree bevel on them and use them for paring work.

My beater chisels are a set of Aldi chisels per Paul Seller’s recommendation some years back. They take a good edge but don’t hold it nearly as well as the Stanleys do. But, they hold it long enough to keep a spot in my shop. They get a 35 degree bevel and never see the light of day unless there’s a BFH involved.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of secondary bevels in general but I would probably suggest moving away from them all together on chisels that will see a mallet. You want that extra mass and structure behind the cutting edge. Regarding the OP, I’d try re-grinding that same chisel to have a continuous single bevel at 35 degrees. If the edge is rolling and crumbling that easily, the steel is probably just too brittle for that edge geometry.

I am very tempted by the PMV-11 chisels too. But I just can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on a chisel…

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View MikeB_UK's profile

MikeB_UK

732 posts in 2324 days


#8 posted 12-21-2020 09:25 PM

I read somewhere that sometimes the tip gets work hardened (or not properly tempered) at the factory leaving the bevel prone to chipping (or softer than it should be).

Rule of thumb seems to be grind 1/8th of an inch off and try again.

-- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile

BlueRidgeDog

885 posts in 1069 days


#9 posted 12-21-2020 09:38 PM

Looks like lower quality steel (either in composition or temper). Get a set from the upper tier of manufactures and you won’t be disappointed, but for beating end grain like that with a thinnish secondary bevel, you will get some wear. I have some Stanley 750s that I can get 20 dovetail cuts out of before touching it up (but I also have multiple and when one gets less than ideal I toss it into the to be shapened pile). A trick my dad taught me long ago, have enough edge stock to keep working…sharpen once a week and catch up.

View sansoo22's profile

sansoo22

1905 posts in 944 days


#10 posted 12-21-2020 10:00 PM


I am very tempted by the PMV-11 chisels too. But I just can t bring myself to spend that kind of money on a chisel…

- HokieKen

For the price of the PMV-11s I could go with the 4 piece Wood River or the 6 piece 750s and toss in a Work Sharp. This seems like it might be a wiser investment. Those Wood River are really starting to climb the list. I just wish they were in stock at the Wood Craft so I could check them out. Cosman makes mention of larger handles which I dont have large hands so maybe they would be a poor fit for me. Although I have no reference of a comfortable handle size handle.


Looks like lower quality steel (either in composition or temper). Get a set from the upper tier of manufactures and you won t be disappointed, but for beating end grain like that with a thinnish secondary bevel, you will get some wear. I have some Stanley 750s that I can get 20 dovetail cuts out of before touching it up (but I also have multiple and when one gets less than ideal I toss it into the to be shapened pile). A trick my dad taught me long ago, have enough edge stock to keep working…sharpen once a week and catch up.

- BlueRidgeDog

I expected some wear for sure but kind of expected to get thru more than one board before it went south. I like your approach to edge tools. I do the same with hand planes. If one gets dull there is another one around that is sharp.

View Loren's profile

Loren

11320 posts in 4937 days


#11 posted 12-21-2020 10:04 PM

If the chisels are new old stock they may suffer from a problem chisels used to have. Maybe they still do. Sometimes in hardening the edge of the chisel is made excessively brittle.

Perhaps they are too soft.

There are a few remedies I’ve heard of. One is to grind back the edge to get to some softer steel in the body of the chisel. Another is the Japanese method of leaving the chisels out on a hot tin roof or repeatedly pounding them into oak to heat temper them and remove the excessive hardness.

My higher end chisels seem to hold their edges longer.

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1613 posts in 1193 days


#12 posted 12-21-2020 10:35 PM

My experience is with carving “chisels” (gouges). I’ve had edges chip in very high end gouges when driven vertically into oak with a mallet. They were not made for that abuse. I reground the gouge and shaped the bevel by hand on stones or graduated-grit sandpapers. When I think of the manufacturing processes I can understand that shaping a #5-2mm is very different from a #5a-25mm spoon gouge, and the boss keeps telling me to increase production! Once we buy a “chisel,” it is our responsibility to make it right for our tasks.
Getting back to your original comment Sansoo22, Sharpening carving gouges is VERY DIFFERENT from plane blades.

Phil

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View Rich's profile

Rich

7576 posts in 1879 days


#13 posted 12-21-2020 11:21 PM

Steel is a crystal structure. Cheaper steels have a coarser crystal formation that not only inhibits their ability to take an edge, they also also don’t quench well and the result is that they contain a large amount of austenite. It is a proper quenching process that turns austenite into martensite, which is what you want. It’s the high percentage of austenite that’s leading to the chipping.

No steel will fully quench, but processes like cryogenic treatment can get them very close. That’s where powdered metal comes in. This technology provides a near perfect fine matrix that’s almost fully quenched. For a quick rundown, the main steels in hand tools are O1, or oil quenched, A2 or air quenched, and PM or powdered metal like the PM-V11.

There is a lot of info out there for annealing, quenching, cryogenic treatment and the different steels and what their characteristics are. The best source is The Perfect Edge, a book by Ron Hock of Hock Tools.

The bottom like is there is nothing you can do to those chisels to improve them. Keep them for beaters when you get better ones and use them for rough work.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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sansoo22

1905 posts in 944 days


#14 posted 12-22-2020 04:30 AM

Thanks Rich. I went ahead and ordered Ron’s book. I have all my scrapers outfitted with his irons and quite enjoy them so why not read the book.

My local Woodcraft does have a few of the 5/8” Wood River socket chisels in stock. I might head over there and check them out. If the quality of the Wood River chisels is anything like the new v3 bench planes I might go that route along with a work sharp instead of the PM-V11s. The PM-V11s are enticing but I really like the idea of being able to quickly sharpen. Not to mention these will be my first foray into nice chisels so I will still need to pick pairing chisels later.

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woodbutcherbynight

10524 posts in 3698 days


#15 posted 12-22-2020 05:29 AM

Take a look at Narex, someone gave me two and I like them. Others I have are beater chisels for grunt work. But these I have been using for hand work when needed.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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