Vintage Chisel Bliss
I can’t help it. And I don’t want to help it. Between projects, I really enjoy getting to know different tools and discovering what I like and why I like them. It’s good fun and this vintage chisel is no exception. I don’t think I’ve ever had that freedom within my job as a joiner, but when the working day ends and I can do things on my own terms, I enjoy the opportunity to reflect and try things out. I’ll also raise my hand and confess to browsing at the Internet jumble sale also known as “eBay” for fun! That’s where I spotted this Stormont brand 1″ bevel-edged chisel. I’d been on the lookout for a nice 1″ chisel on fleabay for a while, but had given up…then this little diamond appeared in my sights.
If you’re wondering if the Stormont is any better than other chisels or has special powers, you’re outta luck. I’m sure you could all advise me of fine American makers with whom I’m less familiar, that would be comparable to this vintage British brand. So while I can’t speak to its relative place in the chisel firmament, it is a damn fine edge tool out of Sheffield; don’t hesitate if you see a nice one and want to give it a try. To me, simply the condition and price appealed.
The seller’s photos revealed the cutting edge had been neglected and abused, but what was in my favour was what appeared to be a shallow grind angle. It must of been 15° or so, indicating that it was likely used for fine paring tasks only, another reason why the condition was so very good. I also wanted to keep preparation simple.
If you’ve followed my stuff online for a while, you’ll know I’m a fan of the Norton India stone for its value and its ability as an all-rounder sharpening stone. A few stropping passes over leather to finish off after sharpening, and it’s amazing what you can do. You’ll see in the video below how far I go with the process – I didn’t take too long about it. End-grain pine is a pretty good test and it did well as you can see here while I was posting some shots on Instagram.
In regards to the other aspects of the chisel, I wanted to preserve the patina and just lift off a little grime. I used a dab of oil on some low-quality paper towel (cheap paper towel is quite rough, so it lifts the crud pretty well). Of course you could go as far as you like in trying to restore an old tool to near pristine condition, but I do prefer to see “honesty.” Poorly restored tools look like bad plastic surgery. In my book, do as little as possible to create a good tool while at the same time preserving the history. If you like the look of the chisel but don’t like older tools this style of chisel can be had new from Asley Iles (Tools For Working Wood and Workshop Heaven are two places that stock them).
If you have any eBay tool stories, good or bad please leave a comment; I’m off to place a bid….