Avatar Of Mike In TnMike in TN
Post count: 301

Hi Wiense,

I have WAY too many chisels. Fate has been kind enough to bless me with a lot of finds over the years and you can see some of the tools in my shop tour posts.

First, chisel preference is based on things like ease of sharpening, edge retention, handle shape and balance, fitness for a particular type of work etc. and it is all very personal. I have worked with enough different types (good and bad) that, while different, they will almost all fit my hands well enough to do good work (for me anyway) when pressed. There are Stanleys, Narex, Ashley Iles,Veritas, German, English, Swedish, Japanese, American, and yes, Chinese chisels in the pile and all have been used at some point. Everyone will tell you something different based on their likes and experience and here are my observations.

All of the high end, brand name chisels will serve you very well with the exception of brand name chisels sold cheaply at the big box home stores and department stores. Those things are not marketed for serious woodworkers. If however you are seeking a good bench chisel at a lower price, the Aldi and Narex chisels will serve you well. I have been using the Narex chisels as my everyday chisels for about two years now. They are not as good as some of my others in some respects but very serviceable at a much lower price than most other new chisels. I have some chisels that have some better qualities, but none so superior that it makes enough of a difference that I feel compelled to put them at the bench. I do use other chisels for specific functions where the type, shape, or balance makes them better suited for that function.

My experience with the Aldi chisels is as follows: After seeing Mr. Seller’s review I made an effort to get a set, just because they were inexpensive and were reviewed well. I purchased a set after watching the ads for about a year (they are not available all of the time) and brought them home to try them out. The tools were well finished and had some nice hardwood handles that looked to me to be European beech. They are tang chisels. The backs were consistently slightly hollow but flattened easily up to the edge. I could tell that, based on my experience with other tools, the feel during the sharpening process indicated a relatively hard steel. The chisels sharpened well and easily resulted in a shave sharp edge in short order. I proceeded to try them out on some hard maple and oak scraps, paring, slicing, by hand pressure and using a mallet. After about an hour of pretty intensive work I tried the edge against the hair of my arm again  and it shaved it away. At that point I returned to Aldi and purchased another nine sets. They all were consistent with my experience with the first set. After investing about ten minutes with each set, I had ten sets of extremely good tools at a awesome price.

I have since sold one set to a beginner at cost and have gifted a few sets to relatives who have been just as thrilled with them as I have been. You may find them horrible since beauty is in the eye of the beholder.