Hand Tools

Subject:
English chisels.
Response To:
Re: marples and more ()

David Weaver
I suspect the English chisels (as I've had about a hundred of them) are generally harder than most of what we think of as "good american chisels".

They are closer to the sweet spot (Which is around 60 or only slightly above) than american types like swan, witherby, stanley, or the early bucks (I can't remember - but I think the buck brothers may have made chisels on both sides of the ocean). The softness of some of those chisels has led to the old wives tale that the steel quality is low. The hardness within brands is very consistent. Wards are generally low 60s based on their behavior (despite the fact that ward could make some overhard plane irons from time to time), I have a full tyzack set that's close to that, several older marples (before the use of chrome vanadium varieties) and.......from going to the shop to look at the rest...

IH sorby
I sorby
A couple of different Robt. Sorby chisels
Older Marples
Ibbotson
Nurse-Invicta works
Stormont

I haven't used the stormonts, so I can't say anything about them, but the rest are just at the level where an oilstone will cut them and not at the soft level that a lot of american chisels were. I do have a bunch of older butcher chisels and some of those are soft - I suspect they're a lot earlier, but I'm not a fanatic of tool history, so I don't know.

All of the above chisels are the older "dry steel" feel on the stones and strop. They release their wire edge much more easily and probably took more skill to harden and temper and finish.

All that said, this method will make stanley, witherby, swan, and softer buck brothers behave far better, both in paring and malleting.

The better english chisels gain a little, but less than the subpar chisels.

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