Chris Schwarz's Blog

Setting up the New Stanley Chisels

I finally found the time (it was between the couch cushions) to set up the new Stanley socket chisels. I’m working on the backs today, and here’s the news so far.

Of the eight chisels, I’d rate two of them as “very good” – almost dead flat. Three are “good,” meaning they need another 20 minutes of setup time. And three are “poor,” meaning they need some time on the grinder and the stones.

The “poor” ones are weird. About 1/16” of the blade at the tip is seriously rolled over. I’ll be grinding this area off and then finishing the setup. (Click the photos to see them close-up.)

— Christopher Schwarz


19 thoughts on “Setting up the New Stanley Chisels

  1. Duce

    Has anyone else noticed that the Sweethearts chisels are very straight (line through the blade, socket and handle), it’s almost as if they bend the wrong way.
    The chisels from Lie-Nielsen has the handle bent a little backwards …………. I have done that on my Sweethearts.

  2. charzkuentzle

    My set came in the mail last week, haven’t used them much yet. The backs were all “Good” as Chris would say, and I ground the shoulders similar to the LN style chisels. For the set of 8 it took me 3 hours to flatten them, grind the shoulders and sharpen them up nice.

    Biggest issues, the 1/4 inch chisel was ground off center of the socket!? The beveled edges aren’t even (I ground the shoulders down to almost nothing so this didn’t matter) and the blade edge isn’t square to the shoulder on any of them.

    Oh and the wood box as advertised was a cardboard box with wood print.

    But after 3 hours work, there great.

  3. ocd

    A quote from the Brownell’s catalogue:

    It’s unwise to pay too much, but worse to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, sometimes you lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was supposed to do.

    The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.

  4. JimB1

    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the setup and test of these chisels. Are you also going to get a set of the new Stanley Bailey chisels (Beech handles, tang type, made in England) to test as well? I checked out a set over the weekend and they had visible tooling marks on the backs and rough handles but were inexpensive for the full set so I wasn’t expecting too fine of a finishing job on them. I ordered a set figuring on taking some time to set them up to end up with a reasonable set of bench chisels.

    The Sweethearts however are 2x the price of the Baileys and Stanley says they are competing with Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen so I would have expected them to be better then you’ve shown so far. Maybe I expect too much but flat backs on a want to be premium chisel doesn’t seem to be a lot to ask…

    Just a quick gripe about Stanley in general, their website is pretty horrible. You can’t even find either of the new chisels if you just go through the menus, you have to search for them by keyword to find them on the site. You’d think spinning up a premium line would mean they would spend a couple of hundred and make a dedicated site for the Sweetheart line so they can effectively advertise them to people looking for more info. (anyone from Stanley reading this????)

  5. tsstahl

    Chris, is the blade in the second photo really that visibly curved round at the end, or is just parallax distortion?

    Great timing on this post. I was looking at Highland woodworking’s site yesterday and noticed they had the stanleys for sale. I almost bought the big set.

    I very recently picked up two Narex chisels based on the recommendation of a poster in your blog. Sure, they are cheap enough but the backs are atrocious; one still has circular grinding marks on it. They are in the tool box with the Harbor Freight chisel-like hunks of pig iron.

    I use Irwin Marples that I picked up at a home center store a while ago. They only took a few minutes of work (bout half hour per) and they were certainly cheap enough.

    I just found out the Lie Nielsen offers longer handles for their chisels. Based on your post and my past experience with LN, I’m going to save up and take the plunge and get the LN chisels with the long handles.

  6. CessnapilotBarry

    You’d think a company pushing to enter today’s world of better-quality woodworking tools could get something as simple as the back of a chisel correct.

    This makes me wonder if the people in charge of sending samples to well-known tool reviewers know anything at all about the tools they sell. I had high hopes for these chisels after seeing samples at a woodworking show.

    I guess this is just another example of LN’s fair pricing. Apparently, what LN charges is what it costs to provide a quality inch-sized socket chisel.

    1. tsstahl

      Barry, I think it would be cheating for them to send non-representative samples to Chris.

      I’d be mega POd if I purchased crap based on a glowing review. I would doubt the manufacturer AND the press source.

      1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

        Most manufacturers play by the rules. They send something off the shelf. That’s what we do when we send out books for review.

        In 15 years, I can think of only one item that was, ahem, tampered with before shipping to us.

        1. CessnapilotBarry

          I agree that samples should be “off the shelf”, and didn’t want to imply that anyone would cherry pick or reviews were skewed.

          The point I meant to make was that if this is the product, the only place I’d send it is back to the production team.

  7. Mark

    It surprises me that Stanley would send a less than perfect set of tools to a national woodworking magazine for review. Didn’t anyone bother to look before packing them up? Surely they know their competition and the high standards readers have become used to in recent years. I recently sharpened a set of Lie-Nielsen bevel edge chisels (their first real sharpening since I bought them), and other than a bit of time polishing the backs, (my own fussiness), they were otherwise square, flat on the back and no trouble at all to put an edge to.

  8. Old Baleine

    Chris, By the way, I like the new layout and organization. What I especially like about it is that your blog is no longer filtered out by the company’s “social networking” filter!

  9. Old Baleine

    I’ve had a set of never-used Stanley butt chisels at work for about twenty five years. Last week I decided to sharpen the one inch and three-quarter inch sizes. Flattening the backs, I found that about 1/16 of the backs of both were significantly hollowed out at the edge, meaning I would have to grind it off to get a flat back and a sharp cutting edge. Back in the drawer they went for a later generation to sort out…

  10. mitchellm

    I think that is a pretty major flaw in the tool. I don’t want to buy a new chisel just to have to grind a 1/16″ off the end of the blade. I guess I’m a cheap skate but I think i’d ask them for a 1/16 refund!

  11. LanceG

    Chris, could that be “grinder snipe” from whatever flattening process Stanley uses in the factory? You would think that would be a pretty easy quality control issue to catch and fix.

    Hope they continue to work on and improve this product as they did with the planes!

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