Hand Tools Archive

Re: Mike Brady - Phil Lowe's Chisels

david weaver
I can't imagine any blacksmiths making chisels even though I'm sure some could.

They'd probably have to make something thinner and straighter than they'd want to make, and it would take a long time to get good at doing it quickly - even for a good smith.

If there is anyone who can make and finish an octagonal bolster in all steel, and quickly, I don't know who they are. George mentioned that they troubled over the bolster at Williamsburg and thought they'd devised a way to get one forged, but the first guess is rarely correct (that last part is my own comment).

Then you start running into a blacksmith's opinions - if you said you'd like 1 to 1.1 carbon steel at least as pure as silver steel, I'd imagine they'd have a preference for something else, like 1080 or something like that. It just seems like an impossible task for anyone other than a semi-retired enthusiast to take on.

Die forging and then hand finishing could make a very very good older style chisel, but there's way too much hand work involved and too small of a market.

Not sure who would make the dies - and at least a hydraulic press to work with them would be required.

Someone on sawmill creek or here or anywhere else would see a chisel that was obviously hand done and call it "sloppy". Ashley iles chisels are wonderful, but the bevels are very apparently hand finished. They're thirty dollars each if ordered from the UK without going through the distribution markup here, and without the VAT tax (shipping isn't that much because they're light).

What do they get in return for their lovely work? Forumites calling the bevels "sloppy". They are wonderful in use, consistent in hardness, and not overly heavy in cross section for a handle gripper.

Now that I've switched over to building guitars (which I'd never sell for any reason other than making room), I see gobs of reviews that do not address the core things that make for a great guitar. Instead, they focus on "how do the fret tangs feel? how do the sides of the cavity routs look?"

Who cares? What kind of wood is used, what's the density, what is the orientation, does the neck match it? If it doesn't, some of the guitars described will have movement problems early and more will develop them later.

Only a tiny part of the market rewards doing things right across the board.

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