Chris Schwarz's Blog

New Stanley Chisels: A Fix for Loose Sockets

I finished setting up the eight new Stanley chisels this morning and will put them to work on some dovetails on Thursday morning.

After re-grinding the three chisels that had their backs rolled over at the edge, the tools polished up quickly and nicely. They should – they are old school high-carbon steel. The box says they have some chromium in them (to help prevent rust I presume), but they don’t have the gummy feeling on the sharpening stones that some tools get when they have lots of chromium.

If I put aside the three chisels that needed re-grinding, I’d say that these chisels were easy to set up. Not nearly as easy as Lie-Nielsen chisels. But definitely as easy as an Ashley Iles chisel or some other quality brands I’ve worked with.

It’s not that the backs were dead flat. They weren’t, and they don’t have to be. The backs need to be flat enough to polish the steel up by the edge, and really no more than that. Whoever at the Stanley factory made this set was smart about picking out the tools after the heat-treating. Every one of the tools in the set was oriented so that the concave side is the back of the tool. None of the chisels were bellied (convex). A convex back is the worst.

So either Stanley is paying close attention, or I got lucky. Based on my past experience, luck doesn’t have much to do with it.

While the steel seems to be in good shape, the socket handles are making me crazy. They drop out of the steel socket with the slightest tap. None of my other socket chisels fall to pieces so easily. I knocked them with a mallet, but that didn’t help at all.

So I called up a trick suggested by Thomas Lie-Nielsen to fix them. Yes, I know the irony here is thick. You could cut it with a chisel.

So we shot a short video that shows the Lie-Nielsen fix. It works like crazy.

By the way, this is the first video that Megan shot and edited herself. So bravo, Megan.

— Christopher Schwarz

Hand Tool Books You Should Own
• I rarely say something like this, but there are two hand tool books in our store that I think every woodworker should have. They are inexpensive, but they are valuable beyond words. I need to write up formal reviews of these books. But until then, trust me. Buy these. I fought hard to get these books carried in our store.

“Woodwork Joints” by William Fairham

“Woodwork Tools and How to Use Them” also by William Fairham

12 thoughts on “New Stanley Chisels: A Fix for Loose Sockets

  1. lawrence

    I’ll certainly be trying this trick out as I’m sure the chisels I just ordered will loosen when they hit Tucson humidity (or lack thereof) Thanks for taking the time to post this guys.

    The prices out there on the sweetheart chisels are certainly dropping– I’ve seen (and bought) them for as little as $145.50 (shipped) for the 8-piece set. At that price it puts them smack dab in the middle of the pack between the cheap (narex, marples, etc,) at around $12 each and the expensive (Lie-Nielsen, Ashley Iles, G Wade) at around $25 each.
    Lawrence

  2. robert

    Chris:

    How is it that a supposed premium product needs extensive flattening, re-grinding, and falls apart at the slightest touch? Why is it that anyone would accept this?

    Your editorial in the April 2011 issue was spot-on. We as woodworkers and as a people need to reject low quality merchandise out of hand. Our support (financial and otherwise) needs to go to those producing actual quality – not perceptions of quality. If that means spending more, and having less, ok.

    Sorry for the rant, I’m getting cranky in my dotage.

    Best regards,

    Robert Troup

  3. thompmj

    Chris,

    I meant to ask this yesterday and didn’t get a chance…do we know exactly what makes this work? Is it really a case of “aerosolized plastic?” Just curious.

    And, as to the crackers comment, I recall Dennis Miller once saying that “Cheez Whiz isn’t something you eat, it’s something you see a urologist for.” Hope I didn’t step over the line with that one, just thought it apropos.

    Thanks.
    Mike T.

  4. Mark Singleton

    Looking forward to a full review on these. Sounds good so far, as to quality. The price-point is competitive IF they are as good as the “little” guys, ie LN, etc..

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