After a number of delays
and revisions, Stanley has released its long-awaited line of 750 series
of chisels for woodworking. One of the first sets arrived on my desk on
Monday, and I’ve been examining them during endless conference calls.
be setting up the chisels during the coming week, in between filling in
for Megan (who is on vacation) and our still-vacant online editorial
position (we should have some news on that in a day or two). Oh, and
building the cover project for the June 2011 issue.
I’m eager to
get these chisels set up because that project has about 120 dovetails,
which will be a good break-in period for the tools.
Until I set them up, here are some initial and surprising observations about the new chisels.
An Apt Comparison?
first glance, it looks like Stanley sent a set of Lie-Nielsen socket
chisels over to England and asked their employees there to copy them.
While I think there’s little doubt that Stanley is eying Lie-Nielsen’s
success with its chisels (which are my personal favorite – I own three
sets), it’s not quite that simple.
The Stanley tools are different in several ways, some small and some significant.
biggest difference is in the blades of the tools. Stanley’s tools are
considerably thinner than the Lie-Nielsen tools in all the sizes except
the 1/8″, where they are identical. For example, the Lie-Nielsen 3/4″
chisel is .328″ at its thickest point. The same-size Stanley chisel is
As a result of the thin blade, the Stanley chisels
are surprisingly lightweight. I think this is a plus in Stanley’s
column. While I consider the Lie-Nielsen chisels to be lightweight and
perfectly balanced, these Stanley tools feel even lighter. And that’s a
plus when chopping out waste – to a point.
Some people don’t like
thin blades, which can flex, and it will be interesting to see how
these Stanley 750s take a beating. So stay tuned.
thing to note about the Stanley blades is that the company is obviously
trying to thin down the side bevels of the chisels to make them suitable
for dovetailing. On this point, the Stanley’s are good but are
inconsistent. For example, the 1″ chisels has a nice side bevel that
ends in a flat only 1/32″ high. But the 5/8″ chisel has a 1/16″-high
flat. All of the Stanley chisels had flats between those ranges. That’s
good, but Lie-Nielsen has them beat on this point.
Lie-Nielsen chisels have a flat that consistently measures out at less than 1/32″ – more like 1/64″.
difference with the blades is the fit and finish. I would rate the
Stanley blades as very good, but the Lie-Nielsen blades are even better.
Of course, the real test on the flatness of the blades will come when I
start setting up the Stanley chisels. They look well-ground, but who
knows at this point?
The Stanley tools are high-carbon steel with
some alloy in them to make them resist rust. The Lie-Nielsen’s are
available in cryogenically treated A2 or O1 high-carbon steel. Take your
The handles of the two brands are
similar, but not identical. Overall the Stanley handles are a little
thicker, the striking end is more rounded and the swelling up by the
socket is located a little further back compared to the Lie-Nielsen.
They feel about the same in your hand, though I can detect the thicker
profile of the Stanley. This is neither good nor bad – just different.
brands are available in a leather tool roll. The Stanley’s is bigger
than the Lie-Nielsen’s, yet the smallest pocket on the Stanley needs to
be slightly bigger – it won’t fit a handle of the chisel (the proper way
to store your tools). So you have to put it in blade-first. Not a deal
killer, but I hope they send a note to the robot that is doing the
And finally, one of the best things about the new Stanley
line is that the company is making a 1-1/4″-wide chisel, which is an
excellent size to have for joinery. At this point Lie-Nielsen goes up to
1″, though I’m told the company is working on bigger sizes.
too early to make any purchasing recommendations on the new Stanley
line. So if you ask me via e-mail, I’m going to digitally shrug my
shoulders. We’ll be doing a full review of the tools in the June 2011
issue, and I’ll be discussing them some more in the coming weeks.
— Christopher Schwarz
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