Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 26
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    570

    Default [WIP] Chisels, so many chisels - and questions about restoration

    So somehow, I have too many chisels (again). A lot of them are vintage and require varying degrees of restoration so I thought it's about time I stopped shoving them in a box until the box ran out of space and started making them useable. I've started rehabbing them in the quiet and dark of night. It seems a fitting and secretive time to go about stroking all of one's metal sticks.


    ivQ4KsY.jpg

    This will probably look a bit familiar to anyone who has done the same but 80 and 120 grit paper glued to a granite surface plate are the tools of choice as some of the backs are seriously out of whack. The nice thing about having so many to do was that as each heated up (I have two burnt fingertips, one more stroke will be fine! no it was not), I could set it aside and grab another, working on 4-5 at a time. I found using the paper dry and cleaning it with the gummy sandpaper cleaning stick worked well. Once I could feel the paper had lost it's tooth it got binned. Holding the chisel perpendicular to the direction of motion stopped any rounding over of the edges, something which was apparent on quite a few of these oldies. There were two appropriated through eBay that were curved upwards by a mm or more at the top, so I just ground them back a few mm on the bench grinder.

    There's also is a set of Berg socket chisels and some of the backs, whoo wee, they were special. I think a belt grinder must have been used and one of the larger ones was either used to pry a titanium tooth out or dropped on something really hard, one of the corners is non existent.

    fYtzjRy.jpg
    zlQ7XtN.jpg
    GoyOkt1.jpg

    Now I'm pretty confident with cleaning up the metal work - I'm only going to remove rust and sharpen them. But the wooden handles, what to do there? Some like the Berg's are really quite ratty. Is it sacrilege if I sand them back and refinish or should I just try a wipe of boiled linseed oil or shellac over what's already there? With the socket chisels I will likely put the original handles aside and make my own (one day, some day) as the stickers are a nice little bit of history. I'm not really a collector but I like these old things.

    I've gotten to the point where all the chisels above have been flattened enough to start working my way up the grits.

    I couldn't resist just doing one of the smaller Berg's though (1/4" I think), and it has come up nicely.

    LACa8HC.jpg
    The back reflecting the other unfinished 1/4". For the main lot I'm going to use wet and dry on the granite plate but for this wee one I used coarse, fine, and super fine EZE-Lap diamond plates followed by Veritas honing compound on a piece of MDF.
    Rrkch5U.jpg
    The bevel ground and honed to 30deg and taking a wee little blackwood endgrain shaving. Next to it is the similar original state it was in, makes the time spent worth it for me! Maybe not everyone's idea of time well spent but even if I let any of these go later, I'd like to think I've gotten them prepped for many more years of use.

  2. # ADS
    Google Adsense Advertisement
    Join Date
    Always
    Location
    Advertising world
    Posts
    Many





     
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Brisbane (western suburbs)
    Age
    75
    Posts
    10,175

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alkahestic View Post
    ....... Is it sacrilege if I sand them back and refinish or should I just try a wipe of boiled linseed oil or shellac over what's already there? With the socket chisels I will likely put the original handles aside and make my own (one day, some day) as the stickers are a nice little bit of history. I'm not really a collector but I like these old things....
    Well, I would have no hesitation in replacing those ratty Berg handles - two are obviously non-original already, so they shouldn't cause you any pain at all. I read somewhere that Berg used figured birch root for their fancier chisels, but the everyday ones got plain, straight wood that is not very attractive to my eyes, & relatively soft & easy to damage.

    I love socket handles - much easier to replace than the tanged variety. I got a set of 7 Bergs from my dad after he moved on (the 1/2" was missing for some inexplicable reason, but a fellow forumite had a spare he let me have). Several had mashed handles and one had a strange handle that was a bit of 1/2" water pipe with a piece of unspecified hard wood driven through it & very roughly tapered to fit the socket. Functional, but fugly! So my homage to the old pot was to replace the handles with she-oak that he'd harvested & given me (the chisel on the left & the right are not Bergs, obviously): Socket Bergs rehandled.jpg

    I did put the couple of intact handles aside, but I've since given them to someone who wanted genuine handles, otherwise you'd be welcome to them. Can't remember if there were 2 or 3 different-sized sockets from the narrowest to the widest size. I gave the chisels to my younger brother because I had not long before lashed out on a set of L.N.s, though I sort of wish I'd kept the Bergs & given him the LNs, in retrospect!

    I have a somewhat ambiguous attitude when it comes to refurbishing old tools to be users. I'm not oblivious to history, but you have to accept that a chisel is a "consumable" & if used, it's going to be used up, eventually, so it really doesn't matter if things like handles get replaced. I reckon the collectors would have enough mint or near-mint Berg chisels stashed away safe from our hands to serve any research purposes that may arise in the future....

    Cheers,
    IW

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,622

    Default

    where the original handles are usable and in decent shape (but just ugly), I'd keep them. on chisels that have more value than just utility, like bergs, if you do replace handles, I would keep the old ones as it's not out of the question that the old handles in the future will be worth more than anything you add to them.

    I guess the question beyond that is whether you're going to use the chisels with intent or you like restoring them better. If you're doing the former, give them something reasonable and workmanlike (oil, maybe some burnishing and not much more - you can use something like scotchbrite in the finer grits with oil if you want some sort of assisted cleaning with the oil, and then wax).

    If you're looking to make pretty chisels, then sky is the limit. I've bought a fair number of older English chisels, but I wouldn't pay nearly as much for them if they came with replacement handles unless the replacement handles look just like the originals (And not many are capable of making handles that really look like the originals, especially if the originals are crisp clear boxwood and octagonal, but even without that).

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,622

    Default

    The socket vs. tang thing has always been a bit of a puzzler to me.

    I'm a fanatical fan of tang chisels, but in the US, they were never really there (I guess the cabinetmaking was gone to factory way too early, as there's no shortage of older chests and such dovetailed on the ends from the northeast - but that early on, the chisels were probably brought by folks from other countries).

    I had a full set of berg socket chisels at one point because that's what showed up on ebay (at least for relatively reasonable) and just as a matter of piggery, they're gone in favor of something else until I finally found what I liked (english tang type).

    I've noticed that often, the tang type showed up in australia, too, but not much here, and little of what I have made in the US is tang type unless they're cheap later stamped out stuff.

    (put all of your original handles in a box, though - bergs seem to have gone from $15 a chisel to who knows what now for clean ones. I've seen sets of 8 sell in the states in fine shape for $600, but haven't followed along well enough now to know what things other than really fine cost. AT the really fine price, I'm out due to fear - sometimes things are really popular and then they fall off of the table - infills did that here. Some are worth a third of what they were worth 10 years ago and it seemed like they were a great "investment" to some back then).

    (the reason for favoring the tang type is simple - if you cut enough joints and start doing it in rhythm, sooner or later you don't hold anything but the handle and the tang type aren't as heavy toward the other end, so they just feel better to use that way).

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Brisbane (western suburbs)
    Age
    75
    Posts
    10,175

    Default

    That's the beauty of a forum - you get polar opposite views and everything in between.....

    Tools are an investment in sanity & pleasure for me, not a commercial investment & I'm not trying to earn my living with them. As such, if it doesn't suit me or perform as expected, it gets passed on or modified. New handles are the least of the 'tool vandalism' I've perpetrated over the last 60 years or so. Like my first attempts at furniture restoration, my early attempts to make silk purses from pig's-ear tools were not too well-executed, and I plead your indulgence if my ignorance & enthusiasm has caused any pain. Fortunately, none of the sorts of tools I vandalised in my early attempts would ever be likely to be of great value to anyone, unless you are a collector of strictly "user modified" tools. Eventually, as I gained a little knowledge of what I was doing, I think I managed to improve the functionality of most tools I've set to work on, though I may have diminished the collector value of one or two. But then if people aren't using up tools & increasing their rarity, their "investment value" isn't going to accumulate, is it?

    Handle shape & size have got to be THE most variable of all tool variables. My propensity for "fixing" handles comes by both heredity and example. My dad never hesitated for an instant to adjust the handle of any tool, from axes to hoes to 'finer' tools to suit him, & I've always followed suit. I like the look of the octagonal London pattern chisel handles and made a few way back (and made them for others since), but I found they don't suit me a'tall. The simple tear-drop shape of the old Stanley 750s is what I prefer on my own dovetail chisels. BE set.jpg

    When dovetailing, I hold the chisel by the blade low-down, so it makes it easier to place the edge accurately, which is the way we were taught in school, & it's always seemed natural & easy to do it that way. The handle could be just a little knob of wood to strike on & it would make the chisel even less 'top heavy' if it were, but sometimes I do need to hold onto the handle, as in paring out those last few shavings for e.g., so this short 750 style is a good compromise for me.

    If you only have a single set of chisels which you use for a wide variety of tasks, it's a different matter. You have to decide on a style/size that will be ok for different uses. For my first 15-20 years of woodworking, I owned a single set of BE chisels, and I favoured the Berg style handles (a little bit longer than Berg's for the smaller sizes of chisels), but now I have 5 sets of chisels, which is totally excessive & self-indulgent and doesn't mean I make anything better than I did before, but heck, it's so nice to be able to choose a chisel that's just right for the task in hand. Enjoying my shed time has always been as important as making stuff..

    My paring chisels get long, smooth handles with a pronounced "thumb stop": Parers.jpg

    And my Titan firmers got handles quite close to the original shape & size because I found Titan's handles (copied from British firmer handles common at he time) to be very comfortable & functional: Firmers.jpg

    The short tear-drop handles on the cranked parers are just a nice handful & suit me very well on this style of chisel.

    I've made an absurd number of handles over the last 40 years & settled on the styles & sizes that I've found best-suited to my likings. But having also made dozens of handles for other folks, I am very conscious that what I like can be anathema to someone else. There is a very wide range of preferences, amply illustrated by the plethora of chisel-handle patterns that exist out there! That's as it should be, the handle is an extremely important part of any tool and if it feels "just right", it enhances the experience of using the tool it's attached to.

    But there are no absolutes! I've seen people do exquisite work & particularly carving, with tools that have any old scraps of wood stuck on them for handles, with nothing more than the corners barely knocked-off. I don't know how they put up with such crude things, but they don't seem to notice. When product is more important than process, I guess comfort is secondary...

    Cheers,
    IW

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,622

    Default

    I think the tip pinching of chisels is sort of a modern thing. It brings early success, and if someone isn't joining every case with hidden half blinds, then it doesn't add much labor.

    I did that at first and thought the idea of holding handles was awkward, and that chisels like footprints, etc, were long so that someone could use them as a do all.

    I've learned since then and looking at older chisels that if any part of a chisel was short, it was the blade, but the handle was always long enough to hold it and strike the handle without accidentally hitting the web of the thumb (ouch).

    I made a few projects as fast as I could cut half blinds and that was the end of gripping the tip, and suddenly the tang chisels were more attractive. I think most people won't cut as many as fast over a period of time and get frustrated with grabbing tip to handle, etc, and maybe aren't as lazy as I am. But laziness almost always points me back toward stuff over 150 years old and instant success points toward stuff newer than that.

    I just counted my chisels and carving tools (those visible). I've sold some - I've got about 100 carving tools and 200 chisels, and I hope to cut that down as I'm on to making chisels now so the novelty of keeping so many different things wears off - if I want something in their proportions in the future, I'll just make it. 12 years ago, I thought I'd never make a wooden plane that wasn't a moulding plane, and five years ago, I thought making chisels would be completely pointless. I've been making a set a week now for a few months. I guess it's sort of like gripping the handle and solving why there were strange old chisels with tall octagonal handles and blades that had become short - they seemed backwards, but I get it now. Someone probably had an economic motive to keep their hand on the handle and the hammer striking (and I've developed minor arthritis that's relieved by loose grip motions, like hand sawing and hand planing, and really exacerbated by fine grip things, like heavy coping saw work or pinching the tips of chisels. Even as I'm typing now, my fingers are stiff. It seems counterintuitive that working by hand would relieve some of it, but it does. But certain things definitely are a negative rather than a help. Fortunately, the bulk of working by hand is a help).

    I have a method for both fat (I'm a little tubby -about 205 pounds and 5'9") and people who have pain to work continuously by hand, but I'll not share it for now - it's off topic. I sort of came across it hand filing stanley plane iron slots (another thing that I thought would be pointless to make by hand - slotted irons - but boy if you file the entire slot all in a row, you'll end up hunch backed or with claw hands).

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,622

    Default

    you mentioned one set of chisels . ..my hero of makers of sorts (George Wilson) had to work on display in a museum for quite some time and then used bench chisels to make almost everything else (guitars on his own time, professionally, etc).

    I remember him saying they were marples, and I said "aren't those soft?" and he said not the ones he'd bought (in the late 1950s), they were a bit overhard if anything.

    For whatever his working life was - 50 years? He used that single set of bench chisels almost exclusively. I'll never use all of mine collectively nearly as much as he used one set.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Brisbane (western suburbs)
    Age
    75
    Posts
    10,175

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by D.W. View Post
    ....my hero of makers of sorts (George Wilson) had to work on display in a museum for quite some time and then used bench chisels to make almost everything else (guitars on his own time, professionally, etc)....
    Yep, & one of my 'heroes' in my early days was Tage Frid, who was something of a minimalist. Like I said, I got by for a very long time with a handful of chisels, but it's difficult (though not impossible) to cut half-blind D/Ts with a firmer chisel, and a BE chisel isn't the best for digging out a deep mortise. Apart from the thin blade that might bend or snap (seen both happen), the narrower bit of the back bruises the wood more when levering, so you have to leave more wood at each end to chop out to the line at the finish. Again, not impossible if you work with care, but a nuisance when you have a heap of mortises to make. So it's natural that anyone who does a variety of work acquires a variety of chisel types if & as funds permit.

    I would not accuse anyone with two sets of chisels of being impractical; the 5 'sets' I have (one of which consists of just 2 cranked parers) add up to around 50 individual chisels, which is a little profligate; but long before they multiplied to 200 I'd be starting a very heavy cull!

    Cheers,
    IW

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    570

    Default

    IanW, your tools are always lovely, I love the matching handles. I'm happy to say I have the same vision (even if my execution will likely be lacking) for these Bergs as your Bergs - a matching set of handles. I don't know if I'll keep them in the long term as I have other chisels that have been my main users and I'm definitely not a collector, I just acquire too many and then have to divest myself of the excess. I'd rather clean and sharpen them up and send them on their way to their forever home. It is satisfying making tools older than me usable again through a small amount of effort.

    Quote Originally Posted by IanW View Post
    I have a somewhat ambiguous attitude when it comes to refurbishing old tools to be users. I'm not oblivious to history, but you have to accept that a chisel is a "consumable" & if used, it's going to be used up, eventually, so it really doesn't matter if things like handles get replaced. I reckon the collectors would have enough mint or near-mint Berg chisels stashed away safe from our hands to serve any research purposes that may arise in the future....
    Agreed, these not really the fine specimens I imagine a collector would be after and there's hardly a shortage of ratty Bergs around! I like the shape of the American socket chisel handles better anyway. Not that I'm overly fussed, my work is equally deplorable whether I'm using a comfortable handle or an abomination


    Quote Originally Posted by D.W. View Post
    I guess the question beyond that is whether you're going to use the chisels with intent or you like restoring them better. If you're doing the former, give them something reasonable and workmanlike (oil, maybe some burnishing and not much more - you can use something like scotchbrite in the finer grits with oil if you want some sort of assisted cleaning with the oil, and then wax).
    I might do something about the rusty hoops and do a light wipe of oil over the lot just to delay any further degradation but I think that's about it.

    On another note, in terms of the steel, the Titans, both socket and tang style were easily the hardest. Bergs next and then some of the unnamed Sheffield chisels. Fortuntately they're nothing like A2 in hardness though, otherwise I'd be at this for another year, give or take a decade. Interestingly the Bergs had a mix of macro cambered and hollow ground bevels. Most of the other chisels where hollow ground. I'm going to be using a Veritas guide to set most of them to 30deg and the intended paring chisels to 25deg.
    bevels.jpg

    Also, for anyone new to refurbing chisels and planes, stick with the coarse grits until you're 100% sure you have the back/sole flat. Otherwise you're just wasting time like I once was going up the higher grits (ah, back when I was slightly younger and even more of a novice). I did 180 grit on the backs last night in about an hour - most went very quickly so I'm happy to report that we do not have any rounded over edges and back bevels! I expect that going up to 2500 grit will probably take less time in total than flattening the backs did. I think the backs should all be done by the end of this week. Then we can get on to the bevels.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    570

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IanW View Post
    I would not accuse anyone with two sets of chisels of being impractical; the 5 'sets' I have (one of which consists of just 2 cranked parers) add up to around 50 individual chisels, which is a little profligate; but long before they multiplied to 200 I'd be starting a very heavy cull!
    See, that's the best thing about this forum. I think I have a problem because I've got a handful of chisels, then I come on here and 'problem' is redefined as either 50+ or 200+ depending on your fancy

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,622

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alkahestic View Post
    See, that's the best thing about this forum. I think I have a problem because I've got a handful of chisels, then I come on here and 'problem' is redefined as either 50+ or 200+ depending on your fancy
    You can always point your wife to us. My friend George has mostly used one set of bench chisels, but he did a fair amount of carving (for profit) and probably has 200 carving tools, either that he bought or used.

    He's also got a set of paring chisels that early on, I'd have loved to have begged off of him, but they're actually later chisels, and he likes the style of their labels, etc - because they're untouched ,still lacquered and perfect. He said "I don't have the heart to use them". If he isn't going to use them, I have absolutely no business even thinking about it (and later found gobs from England and have now made a bunch.

    One thing I'll readily admit is that I could get a set of marples chisels and manipulate their hardness to what I want and never need anything else, paring or otherwise. But I'm making chisels now, so that's my excuse!!

    I also bought about 20 different double iron wooden planes to try when I first thought I might make some (it's just hard to know what you should take hints from without having goods in hand to learn, and as long as the stuff can be re-sold, it really teaches you a lot for not much cost).

    Attached is a picture of a marples chisel before they went to pot, and the one on the right, I forged and shaped out of files because I love the fineness of the file steel - it was generally a higher grade than chisel steel, but there are technical reasons that it may not be better for some.

    This marples chisel was drop forged and then every bit of it was ground in an automatic machine that had a rotary wheel (which grinds into the tang a little bit and leaves rotary marks on it). I adore the chisel, but marples didn't just cut cost on grinding, they missed hardening 6 of the 10 in this set. I can fix that, but the average person may have trouble fixing that in general and especially without taking the handle off. I didn't have the heart to complain to the seller as they were almost completely unused and how would they be able to even tell.

    They meet the english proportions I mentioned above for a chisel that's never gripped anywhere but the handle, but to someone who likes the butt chisel type now, they'd be long and awkward. To each their own. I've shipped a few chisels that folks have informed me later that they cut parts of the handles off because "i didn't know what I was doing and the handle is way too long".

    I responded to them that if they're cutting a few dovetails, gripping the tip is fine, but if they're cutting more than an hour or two of dovetails a year, they'd be served well to learn to drag the tip of the chisel to the cut rather than grabbing the tip. I think they were a bit surprised that I could tell they were grabbing the tip by their handle assertions, but if they go to handle holding with a shorter handle and hammer the web of their thumb, they'll wish they had some handle back.

    ....

    one last bit about the long handles. I remember before tommy mac got a tv show, he made himself a logo that was sort of an infringement on MLB in the US. He called it Major League Woodworking or something. In the diagram, a person (outline of one) was holding a chisel by the handle and striking it with a mallet. The comments blew up "it's wrong to hold a chisel at the handle! the picture should be changed!!!". He never responded to that, but he was working professionally and I doubt he did dovetail work holding the tip of a chisel, but who knows.

    The only person I know of who cuts dovetails professionally in volume making period furniture in the US cuts all of the waste out of half blinds and through dovetails with a router and then chisels only to remove the last bit of materials. I don't feel like going through the learning curve with power tools, but I would probably change my mind if it increased my pay 50%.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    570

    Default

    Masters, I once again require your knowledge! Is there any sort of buffing wheel/mop/what have you that can be used to shiny up the tops of the chisels without rounding over the edges? Or am I overthinking this and a fine compound would do no harm?

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Brisbane (western suburbs)
    Age
    75
    Posts
    10,175

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alkahestic View Post
    Masters, I once again require your knowledge! Is there any sort of buffing wheel/mop/what have you that can be used to shiny up the tops of the chisels without rounding over the edges? Or am I overthinking this and a fine compound would do no harm?
    Bushmiller gave me a wheel to try (for an angle-grinder). They have a soft texture, but sure rip off rust & leave a clean surface without removing sound steel (or very little). I think they'd do a very good job cleaning the tops of your chisels around the bolsters, but I would be careful not to hit the lower edges of the blade as they would duff sharp corners.

    I forgot where he told me he got them, but maybe he'll see your post & respond. If not I'll stir him up 'cos I want to get a couple more myself - I found it handier than I expected...

    Cheers,
    IW

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    570

    Default

    Thanks IanW that wheel sounds like exactly what I need. The last inch or so I could probably go at with some Autosol and elbow grease but not having to do that to the entire blade for a bunch of chisels would be nice.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,622

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alkahestic View Post
    Masters, I once again require your knowledge! Is there any sort of buffing wheel/mop/what have you that can be used to shiny up the tops of the chisels without rounding over the edges? Or am I overthinking this and a fine compound would do no harm?
    if a buffing compound can clean a surface and remove scratches, it'll round over edges quickly.

    you need something like a contact wheel or idler and a trizact belt, or just hand sanding with a relatively fine paper on a hard backing. The work you're thinking of doing is done on a "Glazing wheel" in the old days and done with fine abrasives now.

    you could also make a round wheel and put compound on it, but you can't have something soft that forms to corners or they'll be the first to go (Within reason - if you don't mind removing some of them, you can do that).

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. WITHDRAWN: Berg chisels 1027 short chisels. 2 inch, 1 1/2 inches, 1 inch $85
    By Pac man in forum WOODWORK - Tools & Machinery
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 20th Jan 2021, 10:15 PM
  2. VICTORIA 4 Mortice chisels - 3 titan bevel edge chisels - 1 unused 7/8" titan firmer chisel
    By mattocks in forum WOODWORK - Tools & Machinery
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 18th Aug 2020, 07:02 PM
  3. Woodturning chisels, chisels, vises, planes, marking gauge, Yankee bits and more
    By dubrosa22 in forum FOR SALE on eBay and external sites.
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 14th Oct 2017, 09:46 AM
  4. A couple of quick questions re chisels.
    By mattocks in forum HAND TOOLS - UNPOWERED
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 14th Jun 2011, 06:42 PM
  5. Chisels
    By Wyld One in forum WOODWORK - GENERAL
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 7th Dec 2008, 06:20 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •