Hand Tools Archive

I tracked the set down on alibaba

david weaver
I became familiar with the tool side of alibaba years ago when woodcraft started buying stuff from china and marking it up, but you could actually see the items. They do more than just mark up (you never know what you're going to get ordering from alibaba or ali-express - I've ordered things other than tools from china and sometimes they are what the listing was, and other times, they're not, and the sellers will have a response along the lines of "it's not what you ordered, but you like it, anyway" :\ )

At any rate, the chisels that aldi is getting are either a dollar a chisel or a dollar to two dollars per set of four (with a large minimum order).

i'd imagine the seasonality of the tools has to do just with when they get a large lot and when their purchasers think they should go through the chain to retail.

FWIW, it's pretty rare for someone to buy a bulky low-value item that may be $4 with distribution costs and only mark it up to $7 or so at retail. They're doing buyers a favor.

I don't have the distaste for the chinese market that some have - I avoid buying copies and fakes, but I've had fairly good experience with other things. I did order two guitars from china last year, and one was to be a solid koa top electric guitar with a cocobolo neck and high output humbuckers. The guitar arrived with a veneer top (which is pretty much valueless), and a mahogany neck that was stained dark and then lacquered thickly to try to hide that it wasn't cocobolo. Any cocobolo trim in the sale picture was plastic on the guitar I got. The seller was dishonest about it and encouraged me to send it back (they know you won't, because it costs $130 to ship a guitar back to china, but their shipping is subsdized this way. I ultimately got a fair fraction of the price of the guitar out of the guy, cleaned it up and sold it at a slight loss)

The second guy I ordered from sold me a guitar where the high E string as just about over the neck because something got messed up in milling the neck. I took some things out of the guitar (it was cheap) and just threw it away. Any time I ask when he's providing the replacement that he promised, he always says "oh, you didn't get it yet?"

The first time I sent him a picture, he said "luthier say guitar OK - just push string toward middle of neck each time you play it".

BUT, I've gotten several high speed steel plane irons, a set of high speed steel chisels (which have superb fine steel that actually sharpens on natural stones and holds up as well as any chisel I've ever seen - the design just makes them mostly unusable) - just never chisels. All three irons are very good. They're tempered to a hardness that they're just soft enough to be easily sharpened and for high speed steel, the grain is very fine. I have confirmed that one is HSS by grinding it on an old wheel until it glowed and let it cool and it was fine. $10 each for those irons, more or less, and one style is thick enough for an LN plane (not an A2 fan) and one is the right thickness for stock stanley replacement.

I don't generally like stuff just cut out of M2, but whatever is being used for HSS over there, it's actually quite nice. The HSS chisels are a match for anything I've ever seen anywhere, including the best japanese chisels I have. But they're just stamped out of stock and their downfall is the connection from blade to handle.

I think ali's minimum order for the prices I mentioned above was 1000.

The reason I've never actually bought the aldi chisels (I like the aldi chain quite a bit, their leverage is needed here with a local monopolistic grocery player), well, I just don't need more chisels, and I've finally learned not to buy any just to satisfy curiosity.

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