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I'm currently kit building but am really wanting to get into scratch building. Before I retired I bought all the Byrnes tools, a scroll and band saw and some hand tools. I think I have all the big stuff I will need so I have been concentrating on hand tools lately.

 

I have been looking at chisels to do some of the nice joinery work I see some of you guys doing. I have a couple of chisels that were my fathers, a 1/2" wood handled Buck Brothers probably from the 70's, a 3/4" plastic handled Stanley probably from the 80''s and a cheap 1/4" from Lowes that I bought. I want to get some decent tools without breaking the bank. I was looking at the Veritas Detail Chisel Set from Lee Valley Tools http://www.leevalley.com/us/Wood/page.aspx?p=46035&cat=1,41504 . I have also been looking at some vintage tools on ebay. Am I wasting money on the vintage toolsor should I steer away from them and get some nicer new tools?

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If you can afford them, go with Veritas. Vintage chisels may have been misused in many various ways and you simply don't know their history. You may do well on eBay, but.... Regardless of source, proper sharpening is the essential thing.

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4 minutes ago, druxey said:

If you can afford them, go with Veritas. Vintage chisels may have been misused in many various ways and you simply don't know their history. You may do well on eBay, but.... Regardless of source, proper sharpening is the essential thing.

I'm leaning toward the Veritas set for sure. It looks like finding them in Stock will be a problem but I'll keep checking back. I would much rather just get the whole set than piece meal it together.

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18 minutes ago, Jim Rogers said:

Look for this thread :  Miniature Russian carving tools

I already have some Flexcut mini tools that I really like. I think it satisfies that need. I'm wanting to do joinery work and I think larger tools are in order.

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I was (and still am) researching chisels. You might find the Mary may website informative if you are looking beyond just ship building. There is a website called 'chipping away' that sells chisels in packages based on Mary may recommendations.  Scott

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I concur with druxey's recommendation on Veritas. Equivalent quality at Lie-Nielsen, which is what I now use. The virtue of a good chisel is that it can be sharpened well, and then keep its edge. My experience with too many cheap chisels that I have bought over the years is that they don't sharpen well or hold their edges for very long. I wish I had bought good chisels the first time; the number of cheap chisels I ended up throwing away could have paid for the good ones to last the rest of my life.

 

Also, when I started on my ship model at 3/16" scale, I thought that I would mainly need small chisels, like the Dockyard sets. I use these, and they are good. But I have found that the vast majority of my chisel work uses standard sizes, mostly ¾" and ½". This is because the larger chisel has a wide face that you can more easily align to a cutting line. Too narrow a chisel, and you can't see if it is parallel to your intended cut. Also, a good polish on a wide chisel allows you to use it as mirror to ensure that the chisel is being held absolutely vertical to a cut. The great books by David Antscherl on the Fully Framed Model, and Ed Tosti's books on his projects, give very good advice on how to cut miniature joinery with large chisels.

 

I have tried no end of sharpening techniques, and have personally settled on waterstones with a Veritas Mark II guide. I never could make an oilstone work, but each to his or her own preferences.

 

Mark

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55 minutes ago, SJSoane said:

I concur with druxey's recommendation on Veritas. Equivalent quality at Lie-Nielsen, which is what I now use. The virtue of a good chisel is that it can be sharpened well, and then keep its edge. My experience with too many cheap chisels that I have bought over the years is that they don't sharpen well or hold their edges for very long. I wish I had bought good chisels the first time; the number of cheap chisels I ended up throwing away could have paid for the good ones to last the rest of my life.

 

Also, when I started on my ship model at 3/16" scale, I thought that I would mainly need small chisels, like the Dockyard sets. I use these, and they are good. But I have found that the vast majority of my chisel work uses standard sizes, mostly ¾" and ½". This is because the larger chisel has a wide face that you can more easily align to a cutting line. Too narrow a chisel, and you can't see if it is parallel to your intended cut. Also, a good polish on a wide chisel allows you to use it as mirror to ensure that the chisel is being held absolutely vertical to a cut. The great books by David Antscherl on the Fully Framed Model, and Ed Tosti's books on his projects, give very good advice on how to cut miniature joinery with large chisels.

 

I have tried no end of sharpening techniques, and have personally settled on waterstones with a Veritas Mark II guide. I never could make an oilstone work, but each to his or her own preferences.

 

Mark

Mark, this is very helpful information. I actually ordered the Veritas Mark II guide and a 2 sided waterstone. I don't have them yet. I can also see the logic behind using wider tools. It makes perfect sense. My original thinking was on buying 1/8" and 1/4" tools for most woth but I can see where they would have problems with making clean and straight cuts. I guess the narrow chisels would have their uses but maybe not as much as inthought. Maybe I'll pass on the set as it only goes from 1/8" to 1/2". I'll just pick up individual tools and start with a 1/2". I do have a Veritas mini block plane and it's a thing of beauty. 

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If you have the money and really want the veritas or Lie Nielson chisels by all means go for it.  On the other hand if a good set of chisels at a lower cost would work as well why not save the money.  I bought a set of Woodpecker micro chisels off of ebay because they were cheap and looked interesting.  Was not expecting much because of the price and the fact that they were made in China.  I was pleasantly surprised by them.  They looked well made and sharpened nicely.  Even cheap chisels can be made of good steel.  There are also some South Korean chisels out there that look interesting.  Not everyone is willing to buy a cheap chisel and work it over but I find that that is part of the fun.

 

PS making your own from drill rod is also fun.

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A couple of further thoughts on chisels,

 

I do use small chisels, for example, in the hundreds of mortises in the gun deck framing below. The dockyard chisel shown works very well.

 

Also, I use a strop with green compound, and strop my chisels large and small every few cuts. It helps maintain the sharpened edge, and I can really feel the difference when the chisel is freshly stropped.

 

Sharp makes all the difference in the world when cutting miniature joinery!

 

Mark

IMG_7155.jpg.76886434bb2137f929bb23d009d1171c.jpg

IMG_7156.jpg

Edited by SJSoane

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I think people are making too much of the brand-name chisels. They should be of a length suitable to your hand and the width to need. It's more important that they're ground and sharpened correctly than what the brand name is, unless they're very very cheap chisels.   I've had a set of Marples (now Irwin) Blue Chip chisels for 25+ years, and they weren't too expensive.  And I have several old Stanley Sweetheart chisels that I found in yard sales that are quite nice. 

 

Your old chisels are probably perfectly acceptable so long as they haven't been burned by a torch- and if they were burned by grinding too hard and fast then they can be reground with a less aggressive wheel (aluminum oxide = white) and occasionally dipped in water.  Then it's time for honing, and you can use silicon carbide autobody paper on glass (scary sharp method) until you can acquire diamond or hard stones.

 

And heck, you could make a set of miniature chisels for modeling from a handplane blade, by hacksawing out strips to desired widths, and then cleaning them up with file, and embedding them in shopmade handles.  For small handheld tools, I bore a hole in a champagne cork, and glue in a brass tube (flattened if needed), and then epoxy the blade in place. It works for me.

Edited by Bob Blarney

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As many have said it’s all about the quality of the “steel” (and you can’t go wrong with Veritas or Nielsen) and “sharpening”. However it doesn’t matter how good your steel is if you don’t know how to sharpen. For me learning how do “great” sharpening is the key. Using a well sharpened chisel is an incredible experience (in my opinion).

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I still have my Marple Blue Chips, and I still love them.  They keep an edge for a reasonable time, and with compound/strop re-touching they can stay razor sharp for quite a while.  The steel is of a decent hardness, but not so hard that total re-sharpening is a hateful chore.  I think that the line is now under the Irwin name.  I have an 1/8" Irwin that I find to have the same properties as the Marples chisels.

 

I always meant to buy a really special set of chisels, but then I stopped professional woodworking and find that the blue chips more than satisfy my needs.  I would, however, like a set of quality micro chisels, so I will have to look into that Veritas set.

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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I just linked to that Veritas page.  Those chisels are made by Beebe, and I own a pair of chip carving knives from them.  The one I use the most is a curved, double beveled blade that enables me to do a wide variety of carving with very few conventional sweeps.  The quality of these tools is second to none.

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As a new user/sharpener I have to agree re Lie Nielsen.  They cost more but are so much easier to sharpen (because they're almost perfect to begin with).  I too use the Veritas Narrow guide system and waterstones.  There's a big difference between the 1 inch Irvin I bought for 15.00 vs the Nielsens.  If sure if you spend enough time sharpening the Irvins they will cut the same - not sure if they will keep an edge as long.   This same chisel would have been 70 dollars with LN - they are also beautiful tools...

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By the way, I have no argument with anybody about owning well-made and nicely finished tools. I never really understood what a handplane can do until I bought a Lie-Nielsen that was perfect right out of the box.  By using it, I learned how a fine tool increases the enjoyment and learning of a craft.  On the other hand, there's the budget issues when starting out, and there's also the satisfaction of making use of what's on hand and also making one's own tools.  One learns by doing all of these things.

 

In short, instead of just following 'Live well within your means', one should 'Live well, within your means.'

 

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