Wednesday 11 July 2018
When I was a teenager, I bought two sets of Stanley chisels – the old black and blue models from the early Seventies. I still have some of the blue ones and they served me well. So, 'what is a modern set of Stanley chisels like?' I asked myself. This set on test is a special offer from Real Deals For You, coming as an eight-piece set sized from 6mm up to 50mm wide, thick-bladed firmer bevel edge with DynaGrip handles and a striking cap, presented in a beech (Fagus sylvatica) case.
The first thing to observe is that they are construction chisels and not intended for really fine cabinetwork. The blades are thick in all cases with plenty of square edge, bevelled off to a degree. The grinding finish is very evident – no silky finish here, just very solid workmanlike steel. The shaped ergonomic handles, with rubber infill, are very easy to grip and the striking cap perfect for heavy hitters.
There is a lot of discussion about the hardness of steel used in blades; I don't have that data available for this set so I tried it against another respected and similarly priced set that is more skewed towards cabinetwork. I used a mallet on both types as the latter didn't have a striking cap.
The first job was getting an edge on the Stanleys, flatting the backs on a 300 grit diamond plate then using 1,000 grit on the back and front, creating the microbevel using a honing guide. The last touch was stropping with metal polishing paste to get a really fine edge.
The backs of these chisels are remarkably flat, although a degree of flatting before use is still necessary. They do take a fine edge and in a brief comparative test – first chopping as if to create a mortise, then doing slicing, paring cuts without resharpening – they work really well. These tools are meant for heavy-duty work, so it would indeed be strange if they didn't keep a good edge. With a full set like this you should have a blade width for every job.