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Thread: CE Jennings socket chisels

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Kellison View Post
    Jim,

    1/8, 1/4,1/2, 5/8, 3/4, 7/8, 1 1/4, 1 1/2. It looks like this may well have been a 10-piece set that is now missing the 3/8 and 1" chisels. The 1/8" is very thick vertically, almost like a pigsticker. The 1/4" is also a bit thicker vertically than most of this vintage but not to the extent of the 1/8".
    The narrower chisels must be tall in cross section or they would bend and break very easily.

    I have to think a lot of people walked past these chisels and anyone who was a collector may have thought they wanted something pristine and older, but they would not survive very long for $100 at any flea market in my area. They certainly wouldn't survive if I walked past them. I am not a collector, though. I don't know what term is applied to a user who has too many things.

    I get a chuckle out of the roll that says "snow mobile kit"

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    I've always heard this length of square edged chisel as being referred to as paring chisels, as opposed to say bench chisels and butt chisels. I have a mismatched set of paring chisels that I like and use from time to time for a discrete task or two, but they maybe get 5 % of my chisel work, as opposed to bench chisels that get 90+% (the rest would be specialty chisels of various sorts, I suppose). What tasks are paring chisels especially suited to? I mean there are plenty of sets of them out there and they mostly don't seem stout enough for framing or post and beam M&T work. Anyone?
    ~ Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.

  3. #33
    These are firmers.

  4. #34
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    I always thought firmers were just a name for square as opposed to bevel edged. But semantics aside, what is their (this length) sweet spot as far as applications where they excel or are required.
    Last edited by Sean Hughto; 09-29-2014 at 4:45 PM.
    ~ Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.

  5. #35
    I believe they are a chisel for carpenters, but so are a lot of the chisels that we use. Stanley 750 and chisels of that ilk are more carpenter's chisel than cabinetmaker's chisel.

    Firmers were sold flat sided or bevel edged, and I'd presume they were generally preferred for larger work than stuff like butt chisels, though some butt chisels are pretty heavy.

    (I was too lazy to post much else other than the "these are firmers", not trying to be snarky).

    I have no idea what socket firmers were really used for, because most don't look like they've been used much. I use them in my shop, especially when making planes, but I guess in all honesty, that's about it. For stuff like dovetails, I use smaller/lighter and shorter chisels.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario
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    422
    David, I also chuckled but, as the vendor said, it seems to have done it's job!

    I'm looking forward to putting them into good working order. These will be a very nice addition to complement my selection of Japanese chisels. However, in addition to at least 4 business trips between now and the end of the year, I also have a Buffalo drill press, an old Parks planer and a small Wadkin lathe to get up an running. These items are definitely vintage (the youngest was made in 1950!) but not Neanderthal. I work by hand whenever it's practical but, after a certain age, it's nice to do the initial stock preparation by killing electrons!
    Best regards,

    Ron

    You haven't really been lost until you've been lost at Mach 2!


  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Hughto View Post
    I always thought firmers were just a name for square as opposed to bevel edged. But semantics aside, what is their (this length) sweet spot as far as applications where they excel or are required.
    I thought the same thing about "firmers" -- that they're square, not bevel edged. David says that they might be carpenter's chisels, but I don't get that. the (few) carpenters I've known didn't seem to care less about their chisels (long, short, sharp, dull, whatever). My greenlees are pretty stiff, so not the greatest for paring. On the other hand, I have couple of lakeside extras that are about the same length and design, but are really flexible, so what gives?

  8. #38
    Join Date
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    My Buck Brothers 1/8" chisel also sports a tall back.

    Too bad the 3/8 & 1" are missing. Nice that the 5/8 & 7/8" are there.

    My accumulation has a few 3/8" chisels, but that didn't keep me from pulling the trigger on one in my price range to fill in my Buck Brothers set, even though it is a miss match by date.

    I am sure you will enjoy these. Maybe someday the other two will end up coming your way.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  9. #39
    When I mention carpenter's chisels, I mean from an era when carpenters would've used chisels to cut joints or do neater work. A cabinetmaker would've used tang type chisels except for heavy work.

    When you look up those types of chisels in an old catalog, you'll see them labeled as farmers. I think a wide one makes a nice chisel to work on tendons.

    Stanley 720 & 750s are chisels probably made for carpenter's, but that doesn't mean that they aren't nice chisels.

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Hughto View Post
    I always thought firmers were just a name for square as opposed to bevel edged. But semantics aside, what is their (this length) sweet spot as far as applications where they excel or are required.
    I've always differentiated between chisels the same way. A chisel that has a rectangular cross section I call a "firmer". A chisel that is beveled on both sides of the top (in cross section) I've called bench chisels.

    Chisels that are "beefier" are either pigstickers or sash mortise chisels.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  11. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Kellison View Post
    Here you go! I picked them up this morning at the agreed upon price of $100 Canadian. One chisel has a small crack in the handle which is repairable. I checked the backs and they are all either flat of very slightly concave. I'm a happy camper! It will be interesting to see how much work is required to flatten the backs and get them sharpened up!
    One problem with older chisels is the rust and pitting on the back. If the pitting is down at the cutting edge, you have to decide whether you're going to:

    1. Flatten until you get through the pits (that can be a LOT of work),
    2. Grind the edge back until you reach a point where there's no pitting (which can lose some length of the chisel),
    3. Grind a back bevel that's sufficient to eliminate the pits on the arris.

    The other issue you may encounter is that the backs may not be close to flat, as you indicated. Most older chisels bulge in the middle or are hollow in the middle. It's obvious that our ancestors never flattened the backs of chisels. The only old chisel that I received that had a flat back came from another woodworker. When I purchased them on eBay (or other sources) they were NEVER even close to flat.

    Most older chisels are plain carbon steel. As long as you understand the limitations of that steel they will work fine. After all, our ancestors produced some very fine work with those types of chisels.

    Mike

    [P.S. I've done a fair amount of rehabilitation on older chisels - meaning a lot of older chisels. I eventually settled on Swan firmers and Witherby bench chisels and have a complete set of both (pretty much got rid of all the others). But for my work now, I use modern chisels. I mostly keep the older chisels just because they're old and I like having them.]
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #42
    These Jennings chisels are called American socket firmer chisels in the 1925 Melhuish catalogue (English). You can view this catalogue on the Toolemera site.

    Bevel edge chisels were rare in the 18th century, but by mid 19th century bevel edge firmer chisels were common, both socket and tang. Both Nicholson (1812) and Moxon (1678) say socket chisels were carpenter tools, tang chisels were joiner's tools.

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario
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    I finally found a window to rehab the chisels and make a small rack for them. It took about 3 hours to reshape the tips, flatten about 1/2" of the backs, establish a new bevel and put a micro-bevel on all 8 chisels. I think they look good in their new home!

    I squared the tips up on a 1" belt, reshaped the bevels with an Atoma 140 diamond plate, moved on to a 600 grit diamond plate, then to a Sigma Power 1000 and 3000 grit. The micro-bevel was then made with the 3000 grit and initially polished with a 10,000 grit Sigma before a final polish with 1-micron diamond paste on an MDF plate. Figured I would treat them right!

    photo-21.jpg
    Best regards,

    Ron

    You haven't really been lost until you've been lost at Mach 2!


  14. #44
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
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    Buy them. Then sell them to me for $120. Where else can you get 20% return on your money in a week?
    Michael Ray Smith

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Posts
    422
    Michael, I bought them in October but I'm just getting around to getting them in shape to use. I gave my set of old Sandviks with the black plastic handles to my daughter over the Christmas period so that moved the chisels up the priority queue! They feel good in my hands, take a great edge and seem to be a good value for $100 Canadian. Besides all that, they just look inspiring hanging there on the board behind my bench!
    Best regards,

    Ron

    You haven't really been lost until you've been lost at Mach 2!


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