Chris Schwarz's Blog

Stupidest Tool Ever: The Chrasp! or The Risel!

About 10 years
ago I was at The Hardware Show in Chicago visiting manufacturer’s
booths to see what new stuff they had coming out for Christmas.

of these tools would stretch credulity. Some of them never saw the
light of day. Some of them were so awful that even women in bikinis
(so-called “booth babes”) could not generate any interest in the
manufacturer’s abortive wares.

And then there was the chisel/rasp
combination tool made by Cooper Tools. When I first laid eyes on it in
Chicago I thought the sales rep was putting us on.

“It’s a chisel with rasp teeth on the shank of the blade,” he said. “Two handy tools in one!”

“How are you going to flatten the back of the chisel with all those teeth there?” I asked.

“Why would you flatten the back,” he asked?

“To sharpen it,” I replied.

“Ah,” the rep replied, smiling. “No need. This tool comes sharp!”

usually when I see a tool like this I just ignore it. Boneheaded ideas
like this usually end up in a mass grave with the bones of dodo birds,
passenger pigeons and AMC Pacer automobiles. But a couple weeks ago I
stumbled on a set of these tools for sale – new – on Amazon.

These tools must be stopped. So I bought a set of three to take a look. They are as bad as I feared.

tools are incredibly heavy. The rasp teeth are coarse and not very
aggressive. They manage to make more of a farting sound than any
scratches in the wood. Of course, it doesn’t help things that you have
to use the rasp one-handed – grabbing the chisel tip is ill-advised.

is it? The chisel edge is as sharp as Lennie from “Of Mice and Men.” And
when you do pound the chisel into a piece of wood (thank you Mongo the
Mallet) the tool stops dead after 1″ because the rasp teeth dig into
your work.

And the worst thing of all? They are branded as Nicholson – the once-great rasp maker.

But if this tool can succeed in the marketplace for 10 years, what other opportunities are toolmakers missing out on?

• Put rasp teeth on the sidewalls of bench planes. Heck, those surfaces aren’t doing anything. Put them to work!

A combination square with the edges of the rule sharpened like a knife.
It’s a marking knife and combination square all in one!

• A battery operated C-clamp (Oops. That one exists.)

Got a dumber idea? Post it in the comments.

— Christopher Schwarz

Other Stupid Ideas

Last year I wrote another column about the stupidest woodworking
devices. Readers had a long list of ones to add. Check that entry out here.

• And just to prove that our industry isn’t above criticism, check out this entry on the most ridiculous woodworking book titles. This one still makes me laugh.

37 thoughts on “Stupidest Tool Ever: The Chrasp! or The Risel!

  1. Random F

    I know several people who own these types of chisels and are perfectly happy with them. None of them are woodworkers. Show up to a job site with Lie Nielsen chisels and you’ll be laughed at. They don’t work too well in dirt.

  2. Christopher Schwarz

    I call BS on your comment, Random F.

    I have done a lot of rough work, demo and carpentry. And I don’t think anyone would want these tools for that. There are far better and cheaper chisels out there than these pieces of junk.

    So if you want to turn this into some fake class conflict, try another blog.


  3. Random F

    Those chisels are marketed toward contractors and people who do rough carpentry work. They are not intended to be used for fine woodworking by prima donna woodworkers who look down on tools used by blue collar workers.

  4. Jony Brumas

    well sometimes there is actually dumb tools out there, this one i don’t know if it is or not, maybe. Sometimes there is tools for some kind of trade that just make sense for them, imagine if actually you would need a chisel to do some rough openings or help to enlarge an opening (roughly), the rasp in it would help! It wouldn’t really matter if the chisel actually had dents or that would be able to do the work for a bench joiner, it would be just for rough work.
    I have some kind of tools that i made for my self that i never saw anywhere and probably if it was in the market people would think it would be dumb to create a tool like that, but for me its wonderful because it help me to do some details in a faster way and with less tools in my tool belt. So maybe its someone out there that think that this tool can be useful. I’m a finish carpenter but before I was a framer and i’m a woodworker as a hobbyist, I can see a bit of both worlds

  5. Jeffrey Vastine

    Hey how about a Scrat? What’s a Scrat you say, why it’s a srew driver & rat tail file combo. Well if that does not strike your fancy, how about a Plum Satter?

    You didn’t get that? Try the offspring of a plug cutter & drum sander. Okay, that might be a little hazzordous so what about the putty knife that has a removable handle so that you can use the sides as a cabinet scraper?

    Better yet, you could add ruler markings along one edge of the putty knife to increase the usability of this combo tool. While we are at it, we can add a little scribe that is stored in the handle, which by the way aleady has a couple of AAA batteries and some leds to shed some light on the subject too. Now while we are at it we can cut a little half moon shape in the middle of the blade so that we have a handy bottle opener for our Samuel Adms and save our teeth. We could even have a plug built into the handle to recharge our batteries. Plus when the handle comes off there is this nice metal shaft that is going to waste, sow why not turn one side into a mill file, sharben one edge for cutting, and make the end pointy like a ice pick – that would really come in handy as a toothpick.

    Well I can think of much more that we could add to our handy little device that would become a red-neck favorite, but we don’t want to make Swiss Army Knife folks more envious than the already are.


  6. Michael White

    I have one and actually find it quite useful for demo work and rough carpentry. I have beat the crap out of it for about three years and it still does a decent job. It was designed for rough work. I keep my fine tools for fine work…duh..

  7. Larry James

    I bought a set of 3 from Sears in the 1970’s. I occasionally use them as ‘beater’ chisels: building a deck, remodeling a bath room and many other non-furniture projects. I find them very useful. Doing some demolition work – they even cut nails! Don’t really need a jig to sharpen.


  8. Will Matney

    I hate to speak bad about a tool company, but has anyone looked at the MERC Pro insert chisels? Just throw away the tips that look to be TIN coated.

    Here’s the deal on these folks. I used to sell batteries for Ray-O-Vac from my business, and bought them by the case loads. Let’s say these batteries equal the chisel inserts. We dealers would get a case of free flashlights with each case of batteries. Lets make the chisel the flashlight. I would give away free flashlights to my customers, as I knew they would be buying a slew of batteries from me. That is the consumable tool business for you.

    Now, what they don’t tell you is that those inserts could be resharpened. It would probably take making a jig to hold them over a stone, but they could be, instead of throwing them away. Just like buying rechargeable batteries.

    The only other problem I see they could have would be ruining the mounting screws when pounding away on the chisel if the insert wasn’t seated properly.

  9. Mark Singleton

    I read this story line last night, and had to check that the date was not April 1st. Then today I was in my local tool store ( yes a small business!) and there they were. Not cheap either. It did look like they had been hanging on the peg for awhile, a bit of dust on them. Maybe I should suggest that they send them back to the distributor as unsalable.

  10. James Watriss

    These things need lasers, so you can accurately gauge where you’re about to ruin something.

  11. Drew DePenning

    A laser bevel gauge. Dial in the degrees, and a laser line appears at your desired angle! Now you can mark your angled line at any length!

  12. Markus Nyman

    Your beautiful finding immediately reminded me of this multitool mayhem, which is perhaps slightly too crippled to be used for camping, but is a great buy for its camp value. "Holy crap!" is the first thing that comes to the mind upon seeing this venerable tool, whose handle is albeit slightly too short for the intended use. The only way to use it as a hatchet is to hit the hammer side with another tool, or a rock. The only way to use it as a hammer is to hit the axe side with a rock, or the hammer that comes with the tool. There are multiple brands available too, so make sure to choose the one that best suits your unique experience of the world.

  13. justin ashley

    I believe the aforementioned laser-guided hand saw should take the prize… Here’s the link, so everyone can see it.

    -Induction-hardened, triple-ground teeth, that cut super-aggressive and never need resharpening!

    -Ergonomic rubber grip handle for 4-finger grip and added control and comfort.

    -Military-spec laser, for the straightest projection resulting in the straightest cuts imaginable.

    -All for the low, low price of only $34.95!! (shipping and handling extra)

    (Customers who purchased this item also recommend, the Stanley Fattest Fat Max, cordless electric tape measure…)


  14. Tony

    A plane whose soul is impregnated with diamonds, to smooth the work and flatten metal saw tops.

    A screwdriver with a hammer head and claw on the handle, so you can work with nails and screws.

    A two handled dovetail saw, handles on both ends, so you can use both hands to cut straight. Who knows how to hold down the work for left – right motion…

    Plane irons made of soft steel (45 rc) to gently cut wood.

    Plane irons with serrated teeth AND tooth set for "aggressive" planing.

    Hammers with concave striking faces, ensuring your force is applied less effectively.

    3-pronged staples. Useful when joining three surfaces in the corner.

    Y-shaped nails, giving you 2 striking surface choices.

    100,000 grit sandpaper.

    2-sided sandpaper – 100 & 1000 grits, 10x the smoothing capability!


  15. Alfred Kraemer

    Two comments:
    1. I saw the same/similar tool ‘combo’ called Woodchuck – seems about the right name for such a monstrosity.

    2. Tried to think of suitable uses for this one:
    – If used as a chisel how quickly does it chip. As far as I know different steel qualities are used for chisels and rasps/files.
    – with so many good tools being abused/rendered useless by being used as a wrecking bar, this seems to be made for that.


  16. Roger C

    How about a remote controled hand plane. Just think about how easy it would be to flatten your workbench.

  17. David

    There’s definitely one that’s sillier, though perhaps more functional: the laser-guided had saw. Yeah, it really does exist, made by Jackson.

  18. David Chidester

    It’s only a matter of time before they come out with a dovetail saw blade attachment for your Sawzall!

  19. Dan


    I know you won’t believe this, but I am from Colombia and live in Colombia.
    The the tool in the upper pic says "Made in Colombia", OMG this is embarrasing, this is shame. Now people will start to think we build only these ridiculous tools.

  20. David Chidester

    Next thing you know they’ll introduce hand planes with sand paper on the sole, to "sand and plane at the same time!" Thus performing "two tasks simultaneously!" Your choice of adhesive back, or hook and loop sandpaper!

  21. Andy

    Sometimes I like to open a can of paint, then rasp a chamfer on the edge of the can. This tool lets me do both "traditional" operations at once!

  22. Chris C

    My brother had a couple of these and I attempted to sharpen
    them for him. Uh, no. You can’t clamp it into a honing guide,
    your fingers get chewed up trying to hone freehand and it
    is not easy to prevent the tool from chewing up your sharpening

    What a horrible idea. It’s a bad chisel, it’s a bad rasp. Whether
    you call it a Chrasp a Risel or some other portmanteau of your
    choice doesn’t matter. Just make sure you toss it into the
    garbage if you ever are given one as a gift.

  23. Kurt Schmitz

    How about adding a bubble level to a jointer plane? That should help me get those edges square to the faces in short order. But maybe that’s too old-school. Then let’s try adding battery-clamp technology to a combination square, so I don’t have to mess with that aggravating thumbwheel. And a little blower nozzle to the jig saw, to keep sawdust off my cut line.

  24. Dan

    Got a set as a Christmas present. I find them useful for pounding out a rough hole in a 2×4 where I know I will be hitting a screw or nail.

    But if you had really wanted to review a set – you could have asked & I would send you mine and saved you the $20.

  25. Asher

    I have one of those. I bought it not long after buying a fixer-upper house, before I got into woodworking. It was useful for rough work, like when I gutted and rebuilt the bathroom. I still use it — both as a chisel and a rasp — for non-precision tasks where I wouldn’t want to risk damaging a good tool.

  26. DGrant

    Scrap the notion of sharpening plane blades and go to disposible blades. Bring out the duel-bladed bench plane with disposible blade cartridges. Then, every few years, add another blade, or a moisturizing strip infused with jojoba oil.

    Of course, the new cartriges will never fit the older model plane bodies.

    Brilliant! Why has nobody ever thought of this before?

  27. DW

    You could call Nicholson CS and ask them who makes it, but you’d probably get about as much response as I got when I sent them (through their customer service web portal) a question asking whether they still make any taper saw files in the US, and if they do, where I can get them, even if by the box is the only option.

    I got no response, not even to acknowledge the question.

    Cooper tools stuff used to be one of the few good things you could find at orange box stores. At blue ones here, first-world quality files don’t exist.

    I’m not surprised they’d make that – I guess the people in the tool development department don’t use tools. The ends of the teeth look like they’re coated with something – maybe helps keep them from being dangerously sharp.

    I guess we’ll watch them go through the same slow car wreck as every other domestic tool maker.

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