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Marples® Woodworking Chisels
Quality tools for real-world shops and budgets
Text photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 6-26-2012
Most NewWoodworker.com viewers know that I will never be the hand tool person of the month but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have hand tools. We all need chisels for various woodworking chores even when we favor powered stuff. The Marples® Woodworking Chisels are good examples of good quality hand tools that make these chores easier without killing even modest shop budgets.
The Marples® Woodworking Chisels are built around a heat-treated steel blade with beveled edges and a 25-degree cutting edge grind. Though all chisels could probably use honing before use the Marples® Woodworking Chisels are quite sharp out of the box. For our purposes here testing was done with the factory edge. I did freshen the edges on my wet sharpener later to see how the Marples® Woodworking Chisels responded to that process and their edges cleaned up nicely and remained very sharp for as long as any chisel I have used.
The handles have an interesting contour that looks different from other chisel handles I have tried but fit the hand very well. The plastic material has a “grippy” feel to it even though it is made to be rapped with a wooden mallet or the palm of your hand. As with virtually any of the better woodworking chisels trying to drive the Marples® Woodworking Chisels with a hammer is neither smart nor allowed.
The Marples® Woodworking Chisels are available in several sets that include varying ranges of chisels for different situations. They are also available individually in sizes 1/8”, ¼”, 3/8”, ½”, 5/8”, ¾”, 1”, 1-1/4”, 1-1/2” and 2” widths. That should cover everyone but the huge end of large-scale timber framers needs.
In the Shop
I have to admit up front that I am no great shakes with a wood chisel but armed with the Marples® Woodworking Chisels I was able to cut reasonable holes and recesses. In the hands of someone who practices with hand tools these chisels appear to be very capable. But it is important to remember that they allow a perpetual hand tool novice to get the job done as well.
The factory cutting edge did a good job cutting in both poplar and the oak in the accompanying video. Removing wood did not require heavy blows from my mallet and the chisel always felt like it was doing what I wanted, not cutting more than I expected as has happened to me frequently in the past. The 25-degree cutting edge is fairly standard and goes a long way towards making these chisels both effective and predictable. That angle is also a good balance between a super sharp cutting edge and one that will withstand a good amount of use before sharpening.
I did take both of the chisels in this review to my JET Slow Speed Wet Grinder and found that they take a fresh edge easily and quickly. I did not spend a lot of time with final honing but was confident in a nice edge. When I returned to the wood the Marples® Woodworking Chisels worked easier yet proving that a sharp edge is always a good idea. The Marples® Woodworking Chisels did remain easy to use, even for me.
The Marples® Woodworking Chisels are well made and work easily, even for a devout power tool person like me. The materials and craftsmanship all seem to be from the higher end of the quality spectrum which will translate into a long life for your tool-buying dollar. Consider that the 1” Marples® Woodworking Chisel in this review sells for $14.00 and the ¼” version for $11.25 (6-26-2012) that long-term value grows considerably.
Whether you like hand tools or not, a set of good quality wood chisels remains mandatory. The Marples® Woodworking Chisels gives you another line to choose from that can usually be found wherever you buy your woodworking tools!
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