Until we get some sets of these chisels in-house, there’s no way to answer all of our (or your) questions about these tools. However, thanks to Publisher Steve Shanesy, we now have more details from the Stanley press conference and , if you can stand it , a little speculation on my part at the end of the blog entry.
The Stanley Sweetheart chisels are, according to the company, aimed at the woodworking market.
“We are going back after the professional woodworking market,” according to a Stanley official. “We want to compete with Lie-Nielsen and Veritas.”
Well the obvious way to do this would be to hunt around in the couches at New Britain, Conn., for loose pocket change. That should be enough to buy out both Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley with some money left over for soda. (Stanley had 2009 revenue of $3.74 billion, according to AOL’s Daily Finance statistics.)
But no, Stanley wants to do things the old-fashioned way.
The Sweetheart socket chisels are modeled after Stanley’s 750 line and will be made in Sheffield, England. The blades will be high-carbon steel and machined flat. Stanley officials say the side bevels of the tools will be very small to make it easier to work into tight corners , a common complaint against many bevel-edge chisels.
The handles? Hornbeam. The sizes? 1/8″, 1/4″, 3/8″ 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″, 1″ and 1-1/4″. You will be able to buy the chisels individually: $29.99 (retail) for the six smaller sizes; $39.99 for the two larger ones.
And there will be sets, too. A set of four (not sure what sizes will be in that) will retail for $110. The complete set of eight will retail for $199. Both sets come with a leather pouch and will be available in September of this year, according to Stanley.
The other chisels are intended for the contractor crowd that also does some woodworking; these carry the Bailey name, after Leonard Bailey, one of the fathers of the modern handplane.
The Bailey planes will also be made in Sheffield, but will be made from a carbon/chrome alloy (for rust resistance). These will be tang chisels that feature a “through tang,” according to press materials. In the photos it doesn’t look like the tang goes through the entire handle, so we’ll have to look into that. And no word on the wood used in the handles.
The chisels will be sold as a kit that includes 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″ and 1-1/4″ chisels and a leather tool roll for $79.99.
Here’s that speculation I promised you: I think these chisels, the Sweehearts in particular, could end up being quality tools. Here’s why: Though some details of the Stanley Sweetheart handplane line disappointed me (the machining of the castings), the blades were very nice. They were heat-treated properly, came in at the right hardness, were flat and held an edge for a long time.
The blades were made in the United Kingdom, the same place the chisels will be made.
I hope to have some answers for you as soon as I can get my hands on these tools.
– Christopher Schwarz
Other Hand Tool Resources You Might Like
– Get all of Adam Cherubini’s “Arts & Mysteries of Hand Tools” articles on one handy hand-tool CD.
– “Hand Tool Essentials,” our very well-priced book of the best hand-tool writing from Popular Woodworking Magazine.
– Want to buy some vintage Stanley woodworking tools? You need to get to know Walt Quadrato at Brass City Record and Tools. Yes, you read that right. He sells vinyl and iron.