Hand Tools

Subject:
the answer that I'd take less toughness... *PIC*

David Weaver
..in something other than a knife isn't a gotcha answer, either. It's just from observation and side by side testing. Toughness doesn't seem to have much to do with longevity, but it might be useful to keep a beginner from snapping a chisel off clean.

I'm sure that I could snap (if wanting to do it intentionally) the 26c3 chisels that I just made (the thin ones) pretty easily, but I have no interest in prying anything with them and I doubt they'll ever be an issue.

Here are two pictures to compare - the first is 52100 (I like to mallet 7 cubic inches of maple and then have a look at the edge to make a relative comparison. This 52100 chisel didn't make it that far - it's plenty hard. Notice how it seems to deflect and then hold on to every bit of it.

A whole lot of buffer was able to prevent this, but by the time that occurred, it didn't really feel very sharp next to another chisel that didn't need as much.

This is a 26c3 mule (the more recent ones are a little better). Notice the defects. Little tiny notches. They don't seem to propagate, but eventually if you work the chisel harder and harder, you can get the chipout to get bigger. You have to work to make it happen, but with 52100 at similar hardness, you have to work hard to get it to not happen (for whatever reason, the 26c3 mule didn't get as hard as I'd expected - it was a dark straw and may not have been in the metal sandwich in the toaster oven quite right).

7 cubic inches with "a little uni" to the current chisels leads to nothing other than a warm chisel.

(I've never seen a 52100 razor, either, though it would certainly have fine enough grain for a razor, and it can definitely get hard enough. Even O1 doesn't make that great of a razor - it's not a tough steel, but something like 26c3 or 1.1-1.2% rod with a small amount of nickel in the old days would've been common). 52100 has been around since 1905, and was around in forms before them (1% plus chromium steels for bearings) - there's no great reason it would've been ignored as all kinds of other stuff was tried (including tungsten steels that would have higher hardness - also not great - had two razors made out of carbon steel with tungsten added, and their boxes boasted it. ).

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