Chris Schwarz's Blog

Coming this Month: Chisels with a Replaceable Tip

This is, as far as I know, a first. This month M. Power Tools will introduce new chisels that have a replaceable high-speed-steel tip. According to the company’s literature, you should be able to change from a dull tip to a sharp one in less than a minute using only a screwdriver.

And to make things even more interesting, M. Power is going to produce chisel tips in different profiles, including a standard bevel, a tip with a serrated edge and a most unusual three-sided cutter (the two edges and the bevel will be sharp).

The tips come completely sharp and are resharpenable. That means that you can replace the tip in the middle of a project (or while on a job) and then sharpen the dull tip at your leisure. Of course, some woodworkers will simply toss the dull tip , like some woodworkers toss dull chisels.

The mechanism that holds the tips uses screws that will stay attached to the chisel’s blade, so you won’t lose the screws on your shop floor.

The tips are titanium-plated high-speed steel (HSS) which has been hardened to Rockwell 63 on the “C” scale, which means they will be fairly tough. I’ve worked with Japanese high-speed steel chisels that were designed for carpentry. They can take a beating. M Power officials say the high-speed steel will last up to five times longer, though I didn’t see that level of durability in the Japanese HSS chisels I tested a few years ago.

The company will offer two sorts of chisel handles. The MercPRO version has a blue acetate handle with a steel strike in the handle. The Fleetwood Innovator version has a beech handle with a brass ferrule and a steel strike as well.

Both version are made in England, according to the company.

These tools should be available in the United States by Sept. 17 and will be available through Eagle America and Garrett Wade.

The retail prices of the Innovator version of the chisel are as follows:
– 1/2″ will be $47.85
– 3/4″ will be $49.50
– 1″ will be $52.50
– Cutter inserts will range from $7.49 to $9.95 each

When these tools become available we’ll give you a full report.

– Christopher Schwarz

Other Interesting Tools With Replaceable Inserts

– Heard of Rali planes? These interesting Swiss-made tools have been around for along time and use replaceable plane irons. Some woodworkers swear by them. Take a look at then at Advanced Machinery.

– Stanley had a line of handplanes with replaceable blades. Called “Ready-Edge Blades,” these tools are quite similar to the M Power idea. You can read the original patent here.

– Or if you want to learn how to sharpen, I recommend our book “Handtool Essentials,” which is a collection of our best writing on hand tools from all our contributors, from Lonnie Bird to David Charlesworth to Adam Cherubini. It’s available in our store for just $15.

27 thoughts on “Coming this Month: Chisels with a Replaceable Tip

  1. Jason Clarkson

    Can’t see the point of the serrated edge but I quite like the idea of a 3 sided edge. Will be interesting to hear what Chris has to say once he’s trialed them.

  2. Yvan

    My! My! This tool must have been design for scraping cement floors or removing gaskets on engine blocks. It must be a mistake. Anybody that use chisels are professional carpenters or cabinet makers not fly by night camel drivers. No offence to camels but please find a different market for this abortion.

    Yvan

  3. William

    Is this a joke?
    Where does sustainability or integrity enter the discussion – don’t even promote this nonsense.

  4. Rex Carpenter

    >> According to the company’s literature, you should be able to change from a dull tip to a sharp one in less than a minute using only a screwdriver.>>
    Well, I can change from a dull tip to a sharp one in less than a minute using only an oilstone. This is about the biggest nonsense I ever saw. No offense but for the love of Pete…who on earth is going to buy this? I want to try to help the marketers to avoid failure. Stop! Find another venture. This one will not succeed.

    Rex In Tucson

  5. Adam Cherubini

    I can see the problem with this design from a mile away. Guys need replaceable tipped chisels for one chief reason; They use their chisels as screw drivers.

    Given that, how will they ever be able to remove the screws that hold the tips in place?

    Adam

  6. Franko Manini

    How can I trust a company that can’t spell tempered (in the first add it’s spelled "tempured").

  7. Stuart Hough

    I thought all chisels had replaceable tips! You just have to grind a bit away to find it. These newbies must be for the "guy who has everything"….but intelligience.

  8. Jozef Babjak

    At first – with exchangable blades, is the back flat enough, i.e. there are no steps between body back and blade back?

    At second – because blades are titanium coted, I assume there cannot be re-sharpen. Titanium coat provides excellent durability, but it is only wery thin layer on the top of the blade, and any grinding destroys it. Consequently, no tune-up of new blades is possible and the user is totally dependent on factory shaprness. Ask yourself – how many times your [even premium] chisels or planse worked fine out of the box?

    As David said above: it could be fine for construction work or householding tasks, but certainly not for furnituremaking or any fine woodworking, with exception of glue squeeze-out screaping. 🙂

    Personally I think this product is designed by marketing guys rather than craftsmen. But if quality of replacable blades is excellent, the product can gain a market similarly like utility knifes did.

    Finally – what is serrated blade useful for? I cannot imagine now, but sometime I find similar variations extremly useful.

  9. Bruce Jackson

    I don’t know — I have seen a strange thing or two succeed for a while at least — Hula Hoops come to mind here. Over the years, I have really given a lot of things second thoughts … with a jaded eye. This chisel thing doesn’t work for me for the same reason that Festool / Lie Nielsen thing doesn’t work — too much money for something too damn weird, like software that promised a paperless office, or tools you’ll never have to sharpen again …

  10. Jonathan

    Assuming everything else is equal, I cold see how a replaceable tip would be useful. I could have four or five tips ready to go before starting a project. It would save time sharpening during a project. It would be cheaper then having four or five full chisels at the ready. This is all with the assumption that you can easily sharpen them, they don’t get loose, they stay sharp, etc.

  11. George Walker

    Tool steels all have their trade-offs. The primary advantage of HSS is to be able to withstand cutting temperatures above 350 degrees(F) without losing hardness. This is a distinct advantage on turning tools, but not hand chisels. Another inovation, replacable tool inserts are a real advantage on CNC machinery where a tip can be replaced while keeping the machine setup zeroed in. Again this is lost on hand work. Having said that, if your situation could benefit from a long lasting disposable tool, this looks like an option. I don’t see these replacing traditional cabinet makers chisels for fine work.

  12. David

    Ha1 Highly amusing. This is very much akin to the laser-guided hand-powered carpenter’s saw that showed up about a year ago and was instantly the butt of just about every joke on the WW net forums.

    Actually – I see this as a good thing. It exacts heavy penalties (in this case, financial penalties) on bad behavior. Specifically, the behavior of "learning how to do something (sharpening) is painful, so I’d rather not".

  13. Chris C

    Ho Hum. Exactly what problem is this tool solving? I guess there
    are some folks who simply don’t ever want to sharpen anything. OK
    I guess. I’ll pass, especially since the prices are in the Lie-Nielson range…I’ll just buy the Lie-Nielsons.

    chris

  14. Sean

    I think that there exist huge numbers of folks who do woodworking on a fairly advanced level using almost exclusively power tools and for whom hand tools and sharpening are more or less complete mysteries. I wouldn’t have believed this a few months ago, but over the summer I met a couple such fellows at various get togethers (wedding reception, company picnic, etc.). They had all kinds of questions for me about sharpening, and seem to have been in the crew Chris refers to about tossing chisels when they get dull. I was amazed that the thought would even occur to someone. Then again, most handsaws available at the home centers and the like are impulse hardened disposable jobbies, so I guess that kind of thinking about chisels might logically follow. I guess that’s who these things are aimed at. Crazy.

  15. Gary

    While they’re at it they should also add a ultrasonic vibrating feature powered by two AA batteries, just to make the cutting that more easier…

  16. Michael

    Maybe a good idea if the insert would have been carbide or ceramic or CBN (cubic boron nitride) or something that really would provide a super sharp edge with very long life (as long as you don’t drop it on a concrete floor). But HSS? What’s the purpose of that? The difficulty of sharpening the HSS, I would think, would offset the marginal increase in edge wear life. I’d just as soon have a good high carbon steel edge than HSS unless I am cutting steel or generating a lot of heat. I personally don’t work that fast in wood, and never intentionally cut steel with my chisels. If I want disposable, there is always Harbor Freight with a whole set of decent carbon steel chisels on sale for $5.99.

  17. David

    I guess this is useful for the construction work site, where you can’t just pull out your Japanese water stones and hone away.

  18. Matt Cianci

    This is a ridiculous product….akin to marketing a car with a disposable engine that you can just throw away instead of changing the oil.

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