Sunday, December 28, 2014

Too Many Chisels

Like remote controls, power tools and kitchen appliances it is impossible to have too many chisels.

Over the years I have accumulated quite a collection of chisels of various vintages and provenances.  Some are only a few weeks old and others come from my father's time as a woodworker and would be 80 or so years old at a guess. They are in various conditions but I have started to bring them all up to a useable state with my grinder and water stones. I did have a slight issue with a really nice long thin 1" paring chisel (far right, first photo) which I will get back to but they have mostly come up pretty well. I spent maybe 2 days in total (over several weeks) working on them but am pretty pleased overall with their condition. They have mostly surface rust which is not much more than cosmetic but their faces and edges are in pretty good condition and are pretty serviceable. There are some average and also some pretty good chisels amongst them.

The photo to the left is of older chisels I am restoring. the four on the right and the one on the far left are all (as far as I can remember) from my dad. The heavy chisel fourth from the right is from an old morticing machine. It was a huge affair made form cast iron with a very long counter-levered handle. It had a sliding bed into which you could secure your work then move it in either direction by a couple of large wheels. You would them plunge the chisel into the wood and move it along plunging as you go to hollow out the mortice.

The second and third from the right are firmer chisels with a high angle for roughing work or hand cut mortices and tenons. The smaller of the firmer chisels has the original handle but the larger one (1") has a handle made from scrap by me many years ago. It happened to have an embedded dowel which you can see if you look carefully, but I was never the one to let a recovered piece of furniture go to waste. The chisel on the right is a very nice paring chisel. I made a bit of a meal at my first attempt. The min problem is that the chisel angle is very low, less than 20 deg so I had another attempt (more in a later post). Again, this is a replacement handle made by me many years ago. The ferule is from a piece of copper tube and the end ferrule is a length of chromed tubing from an old bed which fell apart. The chisel on the far left is a long bench chisel with a large bevel, perfect for dovetails. This handle was also replaced by me many years ago. The leather ring on the end was recovered from the old handle. The remainder are carving tools and chisels that I have picked up over the years. Some my mother bought when she was woodworking and the gouge I bought when I worked at an industrial supply store in the early 80s.

This next lot are mainly newer chisels. The two to the right are obviously Marples blue handled chisels. I inherited them from the previous owner of my current property. They are the older type before Marples sold out. The next two are some nice Stanly chisels that I bought at a closing down sale from a local hardware store a few years ago. They have had a lot of use lately. The yellow handled chisel is a cheaper Stanley that was in the same batch as the blue Marples.

The last four on the left are brand new Veritas chisels. They were on special at a local woodworking store. The first three are part of the Veritas A2 bench chisel range and the stubby is MP-V11 steel, and very nice it is too.

I have enjoyed restoring and using the old chisels and will be interested to see how they fare against the new Veritas chisels. I think that however good the old chisels were in their time, and I think the better chisels were very good,  the technology in the new Veritas chisels make them a far better chisel. However, to replace them all with new chisels would be in the order of a thousand dollars so the set of basic Vertias bench chisels is good enough. For paring and roughing work I think the old chisels are more than good enough so long as I continue to look after them.

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