Turning Archive

Re: Time to replace tools
Response To:
Time to replace tools ()

David Walser
In general, you'll want to avoid the Chinese made tools. Sometimes the Chinese HSS tools are properly heat treated and sometimes they're not. I have a couple of sets from Harbor Freight. Out of both sets, all the tools hold an edge except for one that I've turned into a specialty scraper. However, with all of them, the finish on them was rough and I had to spend some time with a file softening the edges of the skews and scrapers (or they won't slide smoothly on the tool rest). I've had the same spotty quality issues with a bunch of Chinese tools my well-meaning family bought me from Penn State.

Better quality, but still lower-cost, tools can be had from the 'house brands' at Craft Supplies USA and Packard Woodworks. Both are made in England by companies that have been producing high quality tools for decades. The CSUSA Artisan brand tools are made by Henry Taylor and the Packard Tools brand tools are made by Hamlet. The difference between the house brands and the regular English made tools is the polish isn't quite up to Henry Taylor's or Hamlet's usual standards. Still, you won't need to spend anytime with a file to make the tools ready to use.

If you want name brand tools, any of the English brands -- Sorby, Crown, Henry Taylor, and Hamlet -- represent good quality. (Just make sure they're actually made in England.) However, there are now some very good, if not better, brands made in the USA. These include Thompson, D-way, and Carter and Son.

Of these, I prefer Thompson. I prefer Thompson because he offers a fuller line of tools. Having said that, none of the domestic makers offer as many different types and sizes of tools as are available from England.


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