Hand Tools Archive

testing a good chisel in maple

David Weaver
ashley iles mk 2 bench chisel.

Test is chopping an inch off of the end of a maple board 7/8ths wide and 1 1/2 inches tall.

Two edges (number of strikes):
* 1 micron 30º microbevel (155)
* unicorn (102)

(hard maple), 10 leaves of cutting. This is a bit aggressive - I thought the apple might be harder, but I think it's not - the maple resists more (The volume of wood is close to double) and warms the chisel more.

The 30 degree "normal" edge. Damage is mostly metal gone and not a leaf of deformed metal, but minor compared to the much softer sorby in other test. The sorby chisel would died in this test.

some damage was slightly worse than this, there were two bigger notches and then some areas with a little bit less damage, but no section of image was completely undamaged.

Unicorn (this is the same chisel back - the software adjusts gain based on what it sees and my handle rest may have been at a slightly different angle.

I ran my thumb over the edge after this test to feel for a burr and may have pulled the oil to the edge that's there. If there is oil anywhere on the chisel, the sides, the back, anywhere, you will find it under the microscope. If you chisel something and then so much as feel the back, the thin layer of oil is everywhere. When I tested plane blades, I learned that the bevel had to be wiped off thoroughly and then all strokes with the rag had to be wiped from the edge toward the other end of the iron. If a single wipe was done like I did here with my thumb, the area looked like it's covered with oil again. I don't think it obscured anything.

As with planing hard maple, lots of heat is generated and the chisel was very warm - maybe it thinned the oil.

If buffers and inexpensive small abrasives existed in the time of nicholson, this sharpening method would have been prescribed. It is better than any method that has two planes meeting. The added bonus is that the maple still shot off of the end of the board with a 30 degree microbevel (some going in my eye, around my glasses) but most of it was laid over neatly with the unicorn.

The iles chisels generally hold up as well or better than vintage chisels, perhaps with the exception of ward.

V11 still hasn't shipped, so it may be a while before these three chisels are compared (sorby, v11 and AI).

It'll be separately interesting to see how AI and V11 compare as the AI chisels are about 1/3rd the cost. Of minor interest will also be whether or not the slickness of the V11 can be felt malleting out maple.

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