Monday, 1 April 2013

New chisel preparation

Another thread for the toolies, but they may be disappointed as I did not spend a week at it. I treated myself to a set of Ashley Isles cabinet makers chisels which are very thin and therefore ideal for tight spaces but not for heavy joinery. They claim to have a slight hollow in the back which should speed preparation so I put this to the test. The full set covers 3-50mm so I am unlikely to be stuck for a chisel in future!

As delivered these chisels gave a good impression with nicely fitted, bubinga handles and wax protection for the finely ground blades. These are the Mark 2 incarnation with smaller handles further up the size range leaving the giant grips of the Mark 1's for 30mm up. I originally bought these a couple of years ago and I have noticed a reduction in finish quality since, particularly with poorly fitting, off-centred handles. It would be a pity if they spoilt a good tool with such minor flaws, so check before you buy.

I use Japanesse water stones for sharpening and so set about the backs on a 1000 grit, freshly flattened stone.

The theory about the hollowed backs appears correct and I quickly achieved a smooth edge. The grinding is fine anyway, compared to many modern offerings, but this takes only a minute.

On some sizes an unexpected problem arose which I put down to the grinder or linisher lifting the handle at the end of the stroke of back hollowing which rounds the edge slightly. Not a deal breaker but annoying on tools of this quality. You can just see it on the blade below.

They really are thin blades and can flex on the narrow widths when faced with tough challenges. I feel they are really for hand use although will come to no harm with the odd clout from a mallet on the larger sizes.

The edges are beautifully thin, almost sharp, and therefore ideal for dovetailing.

When ready I tested them on some end grain columbian pine, which is by no means an easy timber, and, as you can see, it pared perfectly.

These are an excellent example of the toolmakers art, with a couple of minor gripes, and I expect to enjoy them for many years to come. Edge retention has proved very good and they are easy to sharpen so a nice balance of properties in the steel.  My only caution is that they are not suitable for heavy work.

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