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Thread: Cheap vs Premium Chisels: First impressions

  1. #1

    Cheap vs Premium Chisels: First impressions

    Premium chisels: 5/8" Ashley Iles Mk-II and 1/2" LN.
    Cheap chisel: 1/2" Marples Blue Handle. I bought a set of 6 for less than a single LN cost.

    * Fit/finish impeccable on both Premiums.
    * AI and LN are well balanced
    * The LN is noticeably thicker than the AI. (Some of that may be because it is 1/8" more narrow.) The lands are ground much steeper too.
    *The back on the LN has been lapped. The AI still needs to be. (Will do it this weekend.)
    * The AI and LN were sharp right out of the box. Both ground at a 30* bevel, but in use the AI "feels like" it's ground lower. I cannot figure out why. (I wonder if the AI is sharper. Dunno.)
    * I touched up the cutting edge of both on my Shapton 6000. It seemed like the AI was sharper when cutting notebook paper. The AI is O1 vs A2 in the LN. Jury is still out until I do more work.
    * The LN's socket handle looks very small. In reality, it's only 1" shorter than the AI. So far, both handles feel fine in-hand.
    * The 5/8" AI is noticeably lighter weight than the 1/2" Marples. That's partly because the Marples has a long heavy handle.

    I cut two pair of dovetails and chiselled out the waste.
    * The only difference I noticed is that the AI doesnt seem to bruise the baseline as much as the LN or the Marples.
    * Other than that, they all 3 worked equally well.
    * I did not see any advantage to the thin edges on the LN or AI. Yet.

    More this weekend.
    Fred
    Last edited by Frederick Skelly; 05-16-2018 at 8:54 PM.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  2. #2
    The Iles chisels are made following old Sheffield cabinetmaker's chisel patterns - which were considrably thinner than most current designs are... Even the old Firmer chisels were quite a bit thinner than current offerings... LN are made following older Stanley Carpenter's chisel patterns - which tended to run more beefy....

    Did you regrind the AI chisel to 30 degrees? The set I have showed up a hair under 25 degrees... They do much better in my hands with a 30 degree microbevel....

    For me - the big advantage of the finer side bevels comes when sneaking into corners to massage a fit a bit... I really prefer fat, square sides for the vast majority of things I do with a chisel... But - it's handy to have a set with nice fine side bevels when you need to sneak into a corner....

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    With those Aldi's chisels...depends on which "Model Year" you get..
    IMG_1948 (640x480).jpg
    Last year's model (top) compared to one from 3 years ago ( bottom) same width chisels...

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by John C Cox View Post
    The Iles chisels are made following old Sheffield cabinetmaker's chisel patterns - which were considrably thinner than most current designs are... Even the old Firmer chisels were quite a bit thinner than current offerings... LN are made following older Stanley Carpenter's chisel patterns - which tended to run more beefy....

    Did you regrind the AI chisel to 30 degrees? The set I have showed up a hair under 25 degrees... They do much better in my hands with a 30 degree microbevel....

    For me - the big advantage of the finer side bevels comes when sneaking into corners to massage a fit a bit... I really prefer fat, square sides for the vast majority of things I do with a chisel... But - it's handy to have a set with nice fine side bevels when you need to sneak into a corner....
    Thanks John. I can already tell that I'll be hard pressed to choose one brand over the other. The machining and finish on the LNs is impeccable - they are really a work of art. The AI is slightly less perfect but still a wonderful tool.

    I did not regrind. My AI came at 30*.

    I'm looking forward to trying those thin side bevels this weekend!

    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Dublin, CA
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    4,105
    If you had an infinite budget then it would be interesting to throw O1 and PM-V11 LVs into the mix.

    I think that the hand-forged AI is an extremely good tool for the money, and suspect that it would more than hold its own functionally against the O1 LV. I also think that the PM LV is hard to beat though.

    I'm not surprised that you got a more refined edge on the forged O1 chisel than on the LN. O1 is finer-grained to begin with, and the directional refinement from forging presumably extends that advantage further still.

    I also think that the AI is a very well-proportioned chisel that's about as thick/heavy as it needs to be and no more.
    Last edited by Patrick Chase; 05-17-2018 at 11:28 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Chase View Post
    If you had an infinite budget then it would be interesting to throw O1 and PM-V11 LVs into the mix.

    I think that the hand-forged AI is an extremely good tool for the money, and suspect that it would more than hold its own functionally against the O1 LV. I also think that the PM LV is hard to beat though.

    I'm not surprised that you got a more refined edge on the forged O1 chisel than on the LN. O1 is finer-grained to begin with, and the directional refinement from forging presumably extends that advantage further still.

    I also think that the AI is a very well-proportioned chisel that's about as thick/heavy as it needs to be and no more.
    Patrick,

    Chisels are so personal, what suits one might drive another to barking at the moon. I've a set of LV PM-11 chisels and of the chisels pictured below they are my least used. Nothing really wrong with them other than they do not feel right in hand and on the stones. Also in all my years of using chisels they are the only chisel handle I've split. LV made good but....

    The two favorite Western chisel are the pre-war Marples and the Ashly Iles. The other favorite user (not pictured) is the #1 White Steel Kikuhiromaru. Of all the chisels I own the Marples have the best balance of feel and steel. Of course as always....YMMV.

    A photo of some of my 12mm (1/2") chisels with weight in grams. From left to right: Lee Valley PM (113g), Sorby (131g), Marple (107g), Ashly Iles (111g), Swiss Made (105g), Koyamaichi #2 White Steel (109g), and not pictured Kikuhiromaru #1 White Steel (99g)

    chiselsXsix180518dscf2700.jpg

    Click 'em to big 'em,

    ken

  7. #7
    I'm holding out for an Aldi "set". But i am going to the Springfield extravaganza this weekend and I'll probably pick up some more older American made chisel s. Buck Bros, Ohio Tool, Stanley etc.
    I messed around with my 1x30 belt sander with an angle guide 20 deg with a 25 deg micro bevel. It's sharp, sharper than I can get my kitchen knives.
    From what I understand i should go with a 25 deg grind and a 30 deg micro bevel?

  8. #8
    I bought a set of AI butt chisels that must be 15 years old, that I use for chopping dovetails, the reason for the butts is I prefer short chisels for dovetails. I find the AI steel really nice, sharpens pretty easily and holds an edge nicely. I sharpen the chisels on Shapton Pro stones.

    My only comment about the vintage AI butt chisels I bought was the lands are really portly, which makes sense since these are really Carpenters chisels, more than cabinetmakers chisels. So I kind Frankensteined the chisels by grinding the lands really thin. IIRC, the new version of these chisels the lands are much thinner..

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    262
    I've got the AI chisels and the Veritas PMV11s. Also have the Stanley sweethearts and a couple sets of vintage bevel edged and firmer chisels (I'm due for a purge). I've tried the LN chisels too - out of all these if I had to choose a chisel that was the best bang for the buck, or even most used in my shop it would be the Ashley Iles.

    They are just made with a focus on whats important - a classic time tested shape and design, a hollow ground O1 steel and a simple yet comfortable handle. It's a wonder they are still the price they are, and I had to get a set just because I know they will have to bump up their prices eventually.

    That said they dont have the fine finish of the Veritas or Lie Nielsen - the hoops often have glue squeezout, the makers mark is off skelter more often than not etc. but those are easy to get around. The PMV11 chisels are fantastic, great steel and well finished. The Lie Nielsens are well finished but I wish they offered an O1 version. For LN and LV you get what you pay for, for AI I feel like you get a bit more than what you pay for them.

    The new stanley sweethearts are kind of meh.

  10. #10
    I gotta say Fred - whatever decision you finally make... Getting the chisels in your hands and trying them out is the right way to do it...

    Each of us likes something a bit different... So you may well end up hating my favorite thing and vice versa... And there's no way to really know without putting the tools on wood and running them through your sharpening routine ...

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