How Low Can You Go?

Lidl Chisels

 

With the Christmas season soon upon us there are currently two lists running on the Popular Woodworking web site to tantalize your woodworking taste buds. The “sensible” Schwarz list and the “I can dream” Fitzpatrick list. My one and only contribution to the festivities will be this £8 ($12.50) set of four chisels currently available from the European supermarket chain Lidl. I became aware of this set via UK woodworker Paul Sellers’ blog. Although his were from Aldi I have a hunch they are the same but with a bit of a visual branding tweak. I don’t “need” a set but I was happy to take a punt and find out for myself how they shape up.

Lidl Chisels 2

For £8 there are some compromises, luckily though not in the areas I feel are most critical. There is no expense spent on packaging, availability is seasonal, shop display is piled in a basket all of which keeps cost low. The flat areas on the handles with text must have been past a machine very very quickly as there are big ripples in the surface. Admittedly so easy to resolve it hardly needs mentioning, but it’s another pointer as to how costs have been kept low. The ferrules and handle hoops are light pressed items (nothing wrong in that as chisels from the Narex range have the same) and the steel is a simple chrome-vanadium. The various surfaces that make up the blade of the chisel have a coarse but acceptable finish. Should any of that put you off? Nope.

Lidl Chisels 3

There is quite a bit of text on the chisels. The “VPA GS” you can see refers to a German certification standard for technical equipment. The DIN is the “German Institute of Standardisation” and the “5139” flows from that standardisation and defines the chisel as beveled edge. There is a bunch of text on the blades which turned out to be the address of the company that trades under the name “Master.” If you have a German pal and you suffer from OCD, then they could most likely help you out when you need other sizes as in the UK at least all you can get are four sizes, 8mm, 13mm, 18mm and 25mm. The handles themselves are FSC certified European Ash and the general proportions are OK. Comfort and balance are personal things but with the cost of these chisels factored in they are quite good. While being held for paring they rival my Stormonts and are more comfy than the Narex thanks to the wood above the hoop being broader. If I was being picky it would be nice to have them a touch greater in diameter but for £8….

Lidl Chisles 4

I’m not someone who worries about ultra fine lands as you can see from my Stormonts so the Lidl chisels are for me a least a true beveled edge design. They taper down finer than the general purpose Narex 8105s and although not as fine as many brands they should offer plenty of control in tight spots.

Now I did do a quick search for other thoughts on these chisels and the only complaint I found was the backs were not flat and time was needed to sort them out. Tough call, this one. I will avoid bogging you down with how to prep chisels but what you see below is what’s I’m happy with. The primary bevel is very nicely ground and the backs are as I like them – hollow in the length to allow me to have them ready quickly. If you feel you need flat backs then you will need to put more time in but I spent about two minutes getting each chisel as I liked them.

Lidl Chisles 5

 

In use I have no complaints, but I need them alongside me a little longer before I make my mind up – but it is looking promising. For those of you worried that the steel must be junk, don’t be. If it does end up losing it’s edge a little quicker than other types, then I’m not fussed. Sharpening and honing are all part of the natural rhythm of work and I’ll soon notice if there is a real problem and report back.

Lidl Chisles 6

Conclusions: I’m impressed. For such a low investment you do end up with a pretty decent tool. Perfect for those wanting to get into woodworking for the first time and don’t want to commit to more expensive options. To the more seasoned woodworker who needed a set to adapt into skews or for some of the heavy work at the bench could do a whole lot worse. If I had these for Christmas I’d be pretty pleased and it’s refreshing to know there is more than one viable way to obtain decent kit.

— Graham Haydon

16 thoughts on “How Low Can You Go?

  1. benchdogged

    Graham, I’m curious as to how you would rate these compared to the Stanley 750s you reviewed recently.

    1. Graham HaydonGraham Haydon Post author

      Hi Benchdogged,

      They compare very well. The Stanley is a nice item but took similar time to get ready thanks to the hard steel and ridges on the back. I think the Stanley’s win in terms of comfort when paring but apart from that there’s not much in it. I must confess I’m not too fussy with chisels, as long as the edge stays there long enough so I don’t notice frequent visits to the stones then I’m happy, I even don’t object to plastic handles, in my experience they work great too!

      Cheers

      G

        1. Graham HaydonGraham Haydon Post author

          Hi conejo77

          Sadly, unless you are in Europe it’s not going to be an easy or perhaps even worthwhile task. Pop Wood is enjoyed in many parts of the world, Europe included which is why I did the article. If you are in the UK or continental Europe they can be found as a seasonal promotions in Lidl & Aldi supermarkets.

          Regards

          G

          1. conejo77

            What a shame and I gots a buddy in Germany but by the time he paid to ship from there to Peru it would be cost prohibitive. Thanks for the reply.

            conejo77

  2. Fraise

    I bought some of these like you after ‘reading’ Paul Sellars piece. I think they are terrific. I use them all the time and they hone quick. They go alongside my Harlequin set bought at various shows and car boot sales.

    1. Graham HaydonGraham Haydon Post author

      Hi Fraise, I’ve tidied them up a bit now. Just removed the text from handle and blade, also rubbed the handles down and added BLO. The 25mm was quite out of flat and took a while to get right, the 18mm was a lucky first grab for the photos. I’m more than happy to use them!

      Cheers

      G

  3. benchdogged

    Are these actually made in Germany? I’ve seen some extremely similar chisels available in the US under various brand names. They have the same handles, ferules, different etchings. They are called “German Style” or something like that and are almost certainly Asian made. The price is more than what you’re getting in the UK at Aldi and Lidl but for chisel prices in the US they are dirt cheap. Around $6-7 per chisel.

    1. Tueftler

      These Chisels are made in China using european Ash for the handles. The design is according to German standards and the manufacturing in China is supervised by a german Tool manufacturer. These chisels are their “budget line” of hand tools and therefore they are sold in supermarkets like ALDI and LIDL.

      1. benchdogged

        Thanks, sounds like they are the same chisels as sold by Grizzly and a few other places in the US. Might be worth a try for someone on a budget.

    2. Graham HaydonGraham Haydon Post author

      Hi benchdogged, I’ll defer to Tueftler on that, he seems to have a very sensible response. They are indeed very much the budget option but they do the job, I would not be ashamed to have them in my tool kit.

      Cheers

      G

        1. Graham HaydonGraham Haydon Post author

          Hi Tueftler and thanks for the link. Google did a very good job, we English are so bad at learning new languages. I hope my children obtain that skill I am without! You have taken the steps I will most likely take to improve the feel of them in use. And I agreed with your thoughts with the addition that they don’t have to be a second set. If needed they would work well as the “go to” set. Great work on the blog btw!

          Cheers

          G

  4. Bill Lattanzio

    I like the Narex chisels. They sharpened up nicely and had pretty nice bevels. I don’t care for the handles. They’re bulky and not as comfortable as they should be. At the same time, they aren’t so bad where I would spend time trying to reshape them.
    From the photos you posted the Powerfix chisels seem to have nice handles and the bevels look respectable. For me, the most important thing is their ability to sharpen. I don’t care so much if a chisel doesn’t hold an edge forever as long as it isn’t too difficult to re hone the iron.

    1. Graham HaydonGraham Haydon Post author

      Hi Bill,

      I agree with that, the Narex are just fine. I think you have it in your last sentence. I also worry a whole lot less about edge retention. Of course I don’t want chipping or the edge rounding over but a quick hone only takes a moment. A sharp cheap chisel will beat a blunt premium tool, learning to sharpen for your needs is the key! Thanks for the comment

      Best

      G

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