I have owned several types of mortise chisels over the years. I first started with a carefully sought out set of vintage chisels. They worked well but there were two problems with vintage chisels in my case.
One, the handles are either not there to begin with or will shatter very shortly after the first use and I hate making handles in the middle of a project.
Second, most have been sharpened enough over the years to make them not quite as accurate in width as I would like. For instance my 1/4" was just under 1/4" , and the rest were about the same. Now that isn't to important unless you have to match your mortise chisels up with a plow plane iron . For instance in a frame and panel door, it is better to have the mortise and the groove that is plowed to be the same size.
So, in my venture to buy better mortise chisels I purchase some new high end models. I purchase a couple of the Ray Iles chisels from Tools For Working Wood
. Now those are some great chisels. They are very pricey in my book and it was hard to put that much down for something that just gets beat on half the time and used as a wood crowbar the rest of the time. But, at the time of the purchase the only other "good" mortise chisels on the market where made by Lie Nielsen and I wasn't sure about dealing with a socket style mortise chisel. Socket style sash chisels are a pain sometimes. For one you have no reference on the handle to help you direct the sides of the chisel for the mortise. That is important for accuracy. Second, sometimes in use you may have to stop the chisel from twisting, and what happens when you twist a socket handle, it comes off in your hand. Though they work and the handles hardly ever brake, they do pull out from time to time and that is annoying. But, at the time I was happy with my Ray Iles chisels. Well, for a little while. I really didn't like the LARGENESS of the chisels. I know that may sound weird, but they are just big and hard to handle. Now this is all my opinion I just never got used to the large handles and the overall length of the chisels. So, after a while I sought out some other options. After a while Narex came out with a line of mortise chisels, but I was reluctant to purchase them because I thought they might be just cheap chisels.
After seeing some reviews I decided to sell my Ray Iles chisels and purchase the Narex chisels. I will give you one word of warning though. There are two versions of these chisels on the market. One set is Metric and the other is Standard measurements. The Metric have the light colored handles and the standards have the dark handles. You can get the standard ones at LeeValley
and the metric at Highland Woodworking
Now, again I want to say it doesn't matter if you get the metric or the standard, just get what you need. It is easy today to work with all metric chisels or all standard. I happen to work with all standard sizes.
The first thing you will notice about these chisels is the price point. The average Ray Iles chisels sell between $65.95 - $99.95 a piece. So for the price of one Ray Iles mortise chisel you can buy a set of Narex chisels for either a set of 6 standard for $75 or a set of 5 metric at $64.99. So, if you are wanting a set of mortise chisels like I did, I would suggest you purchase the Narex chisels, you won't find a better deal on the market.
Now lets talk about the Narex chisels and why I think they are exactly what you need for furniture making.
First, the metal used for these chisels is of good quality. Specially if you know that you don't need high end steel to make a mortise chisel. They are not exactly a delicate instrument like a good pairing chisel, so they don't need to be high end to begin with. But, they do sharpen to a good edge and I have had no issues with the blades what so ever.
Second, the weight and handling of the chisels is just right. They are big enough and sturdy enough to take a heavy hit, but they don't weigh a ton either. Easy to handle with one hand and very sturdy. The shaft of the chisel is plenty thick enough for rigidity and also for keeping the chisel square to the walls of the mortise as you chop along. Some sash mortise chisels have the issue of twisting sometimes during use, however these Narex chisels are thicker, so they don't twist in the mortise while in use.
Third, I really like the handles on these chisels. They are made small enough to actually get your hand around them, but they are oval in shape to give you a good sense of direction. It is important to have an oval handle on a mortise chisel. The oval provides you with a reference point for the flat sides of the actual chisel, thus helping you make accurate mortises. Plus, the handle are made from Beech wood, so they are nice and strong and not made from some cheep wood that might crack or shatter under use. The metal ring on the chisel is OK. It could be a better piece of metal, but I don't know if it really matters. After using my chisels for a while I haven't mushroomed the top of the handle to even necessitate having the ring on them. But, time will tell.
Overall, I really like having this set of chisels. They match up with my plow irons and they do their job very well. I don't have to worry about the handle splitting over a tang and they don't brake my piggy bank either. I highly recommend these chisels and I hope that if you are in the market for them you will get a set. You won't regret it.
I also want to say that I don't get paid for my reviews, I don't make money off sales, I don't get anything for anything . I just like to spread the word of my experiences and what I have learned about different products.
If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I would love to hear what others have experienced or think about these chisels and others out there on the market.
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Ya, Ya, Ya, I know what your thinking. "A video on hammer grip, really dude" , well yes really.
As a percussionist/drummer for over 15 years I have seen some bad grips. And in the world of woodworking there are some real interesting thoughts out there. Like putting your thumb on top of the handle, pointing your finger out when using a small hammer for brad nails, etc. etc.. That is why I made this video. It covers the basic grip, why I believe this is the proper grip, and why it works. Also, why the other grips don't work the best, or at least why the seem to work but are not the best. Take it for what it is worth, but please go in the shop and see if it makes a difference.
I encourage you all to always ask yourself "Why" you do things the way you do. Is it because that is the way your were taught, you just do it that way, or somewhere in the middle. If you can't explain a technique to yourself you probably should learn to. It will make you a better woodworker in the end.
Now that we are heading into the cold part of the year and we all have to heat our shops in some way shape or form.
Do you have a smoke detector in your shop?
I ask this because I am sure many of us heat our shop for a little while before we go out there. This made my what if alarm goes off. What if the heater catches on fire, what if it falls over, what if I have an electrical short, and a fire starts. Would I even know or would it be to late.
My shop is connected to my house, so if my shop is on fire I will loose all my tools.
I think I will be putting one in right after I get done with this post. Plus, I think I smell smoke.
For those of you who have smoke detectors in your shops: What type do you have Photo or Ion? And do you ever have false alarms while sanding? Do you have dust collection while sanding or not? How well do you think it works, Just would like to see what others have experienced.
This is the last episode in the shaker coffee table build and it is a big one. In this episode I finish up the top, chop the mortises, cut the tenons, and put the finish on the table.
I will be making one more video to go along with this series that will deal with the end table companion. The end table will have a drawer and the future episode will deal mainly with that.
I hope you like the last episode. It is a little long and could of been two episodes, but with the footage all shot, I really just wanted to get it out.
Like always, thanks for watching and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.
These are the hammers and mallets I use on a regular basis in my shop.
Though the hammer has basically evolved from a rock to a rock on a stick, it would almost make sense to only have one or two hammers. But, I own lots of different hammers. As far as my woodworking goes I use about 10, pictured to the left.
Everything from different dead blow mallets, the basic 16 oz claw hammer, purple heart plane adjustment hammer, and my carpenters mallet, I own and use many different types.
Now , this doesn't include sledgehammers, ball peen hammers, metal working hammers, framing hammers and all the others I own.
So, my question to you is: How many hammers do you use in your woodworking shop?
In this video we are just a few hours into the coffee table build. It is night two, after work, and I am planing the top to final thickness and I cover making tapered legs. Now, I have to admit, that after editing this video I was surprised at its length Not a ton goes on in this video but there are many steps that need to be followed to ensure a well made table. Specially time in planing the top flat and square.
One thing that I will cover later is the actual final height of the apron for this table. The reason this is important is that it changes the taper on the legs dramatically. I eventually change to a 3" apron, which moves the start of the taper further up the leg, so it starts right where the apron stops. I also decrease the size of the leg from 1 1/4" at the bottom to 1 1/8". May not seem like much, but it makes a dramatic difference in the legs. Though, all of this adjusting and decision making happens in the next video. I think it is still useful to watch the entire process. This is how someone works by hand and by eye during a project, or at least the way I do.
I hope you enjoy the video and like always, if you have any questions, comments, or otherwise, please let me know here on the site. Just comment below the video in the comment section.
Thanks for stopping by.
This is one of my most prized tools. It is a #119 Sandusky Tool Co. plow plane. It has a beach body and was the forth model made by the tool company. Sandusky made 28 different models by 1926, they where usually made of one or two of the following materials: Ivory, Ebony, Beach, Rosewood, or Apple wood.
This model is a no holds bar workhorse. It has been kept well over the past 100 years and has no major flaws. That is why I purchased this plane in the first place. Now I will say it wasn't cheap, but it was less than the new metal body plow planes made today by Veritas (small plow with 5 irons sells for $275) and a lot less than the new wooden planes made today by specialty makers. And after using the Veritas, Stanley, and Record models, I know this plane works better than they do. I believe they work better for several reasons: the body of the plane is larger, it glides well over the wood, the blade is set more firmly in the skate, and it ejects the shavings onto the bench with ease. Plus, it is just as easy to adjust the plane iron, depth adjust and fence, as any of the more modern metal body planes.
Don't let any body trick you into thinking that the old screw style arms are hard to adjust/align either. I can adjust mine very quickly and change the blades out just as fast. Plus, I have more blades for this plane than are available for the smaller metal body planes. And if what I am saying wasn't true you better believe I would sell this plane and buy a new Veritas model in a second, but I believe these old wooden planes are way better. And yes, they are faster than a router or a stacked dado head in a table saw. By the time you set one of those up I would already be over half way through my cut, without noise or dust.
Now, I know most are thinking that I had to spend hours cleaning this plane up to get it to work correctly. Actually, I haven't done anything to the plane, I have only sharpened the irons and put it to work. With that said, I will also tell you that their are tons of these old plows on the market and most of them are garbage. If you want one for yourself I have a few tips.
One, do your research on the planes before you buy it, not only the company but if possible the history of the actual plane you are looking at. You really want to find tools that were owned by a craftsman, then you know they work well and were taken care of. Just make sure it wasn't loved to death.
Two, make sure everything operates on the plane, you really don't want to buy something hoping you can bring it back to life. You may end up wasting your time and your money.
Third, wait for the one that speaks to you, don't just rush out and buy the first one that looks good. I have been very patient with my vintage tool purchases. It has taken me several years to acquire the tools that I have, but once I got them I new I was never letting go.
I hope that others out there enjoy these wonderful tools. They are a joy to use, specially when they make working with wood even easier.
If you have any questions for me about this plane or anything else please don't hesitate to ask.
Like always, thanks for stopping by, now get in your shop and do some work.
PS. When this plane sold in 1926 you could buy the plane with eight irons for only $13.00 , those were the days .
I am now starting to build furniture for my living room. The first project that I have chosen to start with is the coffee table. I think that the coffee table is the most used piece of furniture in a living room and without one you really notice it. I am building the coffee table from Sugar Pine which is a really nice West Coast wood. It may be available in other areas of the country, but because it is cut out here it is a little easier to get a hold of. Another great thing about this wood is the price. I paid just under $3 a board foot for this lumber and will have enough to make a coffee table and a side table with a drawer.
I do want to take a minute and say that if you are going to build matching pieces of furniture for a room it is a good idea to use the same batch of lumber for the pieces whenever possible. This assures a true match between the pieces. Specially with this project because I will be staining the Sugar Pine, so I really want the two pieces to match as much as possible.
I hope you enjoy the video and if you have any questions or comments please let me know. I always want to know what others are thinking.
Also, if you like my videos you can find me on iTunes
and on YouTube
. Just subscribe in those respective places and you can follow me on this build and other future builds.
Thanks for watching.
I purchased this plane for $30 a few years ago and my only regret was not getting it up and running the day I bought it. Not that it needed much work.
The plane was made by D.R. Barton & Co. in Rochester, NY. The label stamped on the blade and the plane date it to about 1874-1880, at the end of Barton's life and business.
The overall condition of the plane when I purchased it was great. The handle needed a little work and the blade needed to be sharpened but that was it.
I first want to say something about the blade on this plane. This plane has the original plane iron. Now, not that this is always the case, but many old irons sharpen better than anything you can buy today. I am not a supper knowledgeable person when it comes to the finer points of metal, but I have read enough to know this is very common. With this blade it is very very true. I have never had a blade that stayed as sharp or got as sharp as this one. It can cut your eye just by looking at it. I believe it is one of the main reasons why I love this plane so much. Paired with the fact that the plane is so light and smooth, it makes it quick at any job I put it up against.
The only major issue with the plane when I bought it was that the handle was just a little loose. So, I just used the plane until the handle popped off one day. Then I started the clean up. It looked like a couple people had tried to fix the handle and failed. So first thing I needed to do was clean out all the old glue and do a little sanding. In the pictures below you can see the process I went through. I used finish nails as guide pins for setting locations for pegs. Once I lined up the pins and cut them shorter I smacked on the handle to make marks in the mortise. With those marks I could now drill holes in the body of the plane and in the handle. Being supper careful not to drill all the way through the thin part of the handle. Once that was done it was time for some pegs and glue. Since the fix the handle is nice and tight and will not come off every again.
This plane has become my go to plane when it comes to ruff stock removal because it glides so smoothly over the material, is supper light weight , and the blade gets supper razor sharp. I would encourage anyone out there to try a good old wooden plane, if you haven't already. They are easy to fix up and fun to use.
Any questions or comments feel free to ask. Thanks for stopping by.