Chisel recommendations.. New or Old?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by MaroonGoon posted 02-07-2014 04:48 PM 1759 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MaroonGoon's profile


282 posts in 3012 days

02-07-2014 04:48 PM

I am officially tired of the clunky woodworking chisels I got from Lowe’s. They are bulky which makes them harder to use in my sharpening setup and harder to hold steadily enough for accurate chiseling and paring. Also, they don’t seem to hold an edge as long as I would expect them to. I have gotten by with them but I only paid ~$20 for all four chisels and I know the price reflects the quality of the chisels themselves.

This leads me to my question. I am looking for some nice quality woodworking chisels. I am open to buying new but also to buying older chisels that have been restored or have the potential of being restored. From buying older vintage hand planes, I have come to appreciate the feel and quality of older tools and I like knowing that I am producing work with objects that are 3-4 times as old as I am. It may sound corny but I love the feeling knowing that each tool has its own history and stories and the fact that I am producing something with them the same way its first owner did several decades ago.

However, while I like older chisels, if there is some other reason for buying new, I am open to hearing it.

So whether they be new or old, what are some of ya’lls recommendations? I am not very familiar with chisels so I am open to any comments or information you can provide.

Thanks and TGIF!


-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

19 replies so far

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4095 days

#1 posted 02-07-2014 05:15 PM

Any that cost over $5 a piece would be better right, I have the same cheep ones myself. :~0

I am looking forward to getting some ideas myself.

View waho6o9's profile


9016 posts in 3631 days

#2 posted 02-07-2014 05:16 PM

View MaroonGoon's profile


282 posts in 3012 days

#3 posted 02-07-2014 05:19 PM

Wow, that thread is a jackpot. Thanks for sharing waho6o9

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View Armandhammer's profile


235 posts in 2680 days

#4 posted 02-07-2014 05:20 PM

Very happy with my new Narex chisels.

View waho6o9's profile


9016 posts in 3631 days

#5 posted 02-07-2014 05:41 PM

You’re welcome MaroonGoon!

View Farkled's profile


28 posts in 3370 days

#6 posted 02-07-2014 10:04 PM

I would put more emphasis on the way the chisel fits in your hand than its age. Of course, if you are dealing with socket chisels then you can turn your own handles.

In general, older steel performs on a par with O1, with some better and some worse. So if you working in abrasive woods and expect to pound the heck out of them then you will want to start investigating PM-V11, A2 and Japanese white steel to begin with. If paring is the thing then you will want bevel angles below 25° and you will want to look at O1, PM-V11 and vintage. If mortising in Ipe or Jarrah is your deal then you want to look at Japanese or PM-V11.

In the end the only difference is how often you need to hone the edge.

View pauldye's profile


68 posts in 3138 days

#7 posted 02-07-2014 10:32 PM

I like the Buck Bros. brand chisels from HD.

They are reasonably priced, and made in US. They are easy to sharpen, but don’t hold the edge for too long. That is not a problem. They sharpen to a good sharp edge in a minute or two.

I have some cheaper Sears chisels that are very hard to sharpen, and don’t take a good edge.

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 4857 days

#8 posted 02-07-2014 11:25 PM

Really depends on how much you want to spend. The Veritas PM-V11 are superb. The Lie-Nielsen are perhaps less impressive technically, but are an extremely enjoyable tool to use. I have a couple of both.

The Narex line are excellent value, and most of my chisels are these. I have a couple of the new Stanleys, they are solidas well, but not as good as their L-N cousins. I have basically built out a core around the Narex, then added here and there from the premium line.

However, I have also picked up some very nice old iron – I have a fantastic old Witherby paring chisel that holds a remarkable edge, the only one that is close to the PM-V11. Amazing, considering it was made at least 120 years ago.

View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3237 days

#9 posted 02-07-2014 11:32 PM

How much is your time worth? Getting vintage chisels means spending time regrinding the bevel, flattening the back, and resharpening everything. Either that, or paying a lot for already-restored chisels. The advantage is that older chisels are inherently cooler and more stylish than almost all the other ones (not Blue Spruce or LN).

You’ll usually pay more for new chisels, and they require less time to get in working order (note “less time” not “no time”).

So if you have more time than money, go vintage. If you have more money than time, go new.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View CharlesA's profile


3462 posts in 2851 days

#10 posted 02-08-2014 12:56 AM

I’ve noticed a number of pretty major hand tool experts (including Paul Sellers) using the marples chisels. Mine work well and sharpen up just fine—although I’ve never used a premium chisel.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View robdem's profile


381 posts in 3660 days

#11 posted 02-08-2014 01:05 AM

Have the wood river chisel sharpen up nice hold a good edge handles fit well in my hands

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3687 days

#12 posted 02-08-2014 02:23 AM

I have a couple of the re-released Stanley sweetheart chisels that I like quite a bit. They cost between $20-30 each.
I also have a set of Marples that I’m fond of. If you can find the Blue or Red/yellow handled Marples that were made in Sheffield England, they are worth a look.

View MaroonGoon's profile


282 posts in 3012 days

#13 posted 02-09-2014 05:59 AM

Thanks for all the recommendations guys. I just had my birthday and my brother wants me to tell him what to get me as a present so I think I’m gonna go for a new one or two chisels. I will primarily only use them for joinery so should I be looking to get bench chisels? I’m not familiar with all the different types..

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 3414 days

#14 posted 02-09-2014 06:15 AM

Yes to the question of bench chisels—think of these as the “jack plane” of the chisel family.
Though I didn’t read all the above responses, I will suggest the Narex chisels at LeeValley as the greatest bang for your buck in currently available new chisels.

View Paul Mayer's profile

Paul Mayer

1154 posts in 4119 days

#15 posted 02-09-2014 11:56 AM

+1 Marples. They are reasonably priced and take a great edge. They don’t hold an edge as long as some of the higher end chisels, but they are a great step up from the typical home center chisel and they get me through a couple drawers’ worth of DTs before I feel the need to hone them. Their set of 6 covers most everything I need and you can get it for about $60.

-- Paul Mayer,

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics