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Thread: Why So Few Strike-Through Chisels?

  1. Quote Originally Posted by Brody Goodwine View Post
    Thanks for the replies. Just FYI i'm not trying to ruffle feathers, just looking at it from an open minded POV and not seeing the logic.

    Derek/Glenn, you don't have to use a steel hammer with a strike through. It'll handle mallet/dead blow/anything without damage. You can also be certain your force will be more accurately transmitted without the disconnect of a ferrule, another pro for the strike through.

    Steve, I keep mine at 27deg and 6000 grit, so I'm confident my cheap chisels are sharper than most of their bretheren. I agree stronger alloys hold their edge better, that's why i'm here asking why nobody uses these better alloys in what seems to be a better chisel design.

    David, weight matters a bit, but frankly a few ounces should be a non issue to any adult, especially one with a mallet in his other hand. I'm sure they would cost more to produce, but lets be fair there are plenty of woodworkers happy to pay top dollar for top tools.

    Zach, what is inherently bad for cabinetmaking if a strike through chisel was produced in the same config of your favorite chisels? I'm not trying to talk up my cheap Stanleys, i'm trying to figure out why higher end companies don't adopt the more flexible/stable/durable design.

    Archie, thanks! I'll look into those everlasts. Any background on the steel? Other issues?

    Jim, I don't really get the "balance" complaints on such a light tool. I'm all ears (eyes), but unless you're hand cutting dovetails all day I just don't see it, particularly since most chisels are fairly tip heavy. I do like your handles since i too rarely use a hammer with mine, though the grippy rubber handles serve the same purpose.

    Richard, wouldn't damaged wood from striking dig into your palm all the same? Both seem easily fixed if you're being that rough. LMAO at the deep woods chisel maker comment.
    Brody, if you like to power your chisels with a hammer then wail away, steel caps or not! Use those bad boys totally up and get some more when you need 'em or rehandle the ones you have. You are a woodworker, you ought to be able to rehandle a chisel in your sleep. Leave furniture to your heirs, not a chest full of pampered if not apparently unused tools being 'preserved' for some future generation. Keep tools in working order which is wholly different in most cases than showroom quality. If they're worth having at the end of your woodworking life, then great, maybe somebody will put them to some use after you.

    Otherwise, you want somebody to open your tool chest and say "damn, he used the living, stinking hell out of these things and there's a houseful of furniture (and satisfied customers?) to prove it."

    Cheers
    Last edited by Charlie Stanford; 02-04-2013 at 1:13 PM.

  2. #32
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    Jim, I don't really get the "balance" complaints on such a light tool. I'm all ears (eyes), but unless you're hand cutting dovetails all day I just don't see it, particularly since most chisels are fairly tip heavy. I do like your handles since i too rarely use a hammer with mine, though the grippy rubber handles serve the same purpose.
    Brody,

    My last cabinet project had 52 dovetails, so my few hours of shop time was spent cutting dovetails for a few days. Having a chisel that can be positioned without changing my grip while using just one hand and not having to constantly set down and pick up a mallet is less work and quicker.

    If a chisel fits your needs, then do not let the opinions of others like me cause doubts. My chisels are an eclectic mix of various makers and styles. Each one of them seems to have a place where they are the one that works best. This also allows for different bevel angles on chisels of the same size.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 02-04-2013 at 1:10 PM. Reason: wording
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #33
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    Charlie, I like your philosophy. If I was a turner I'd probably have utter hate for strike throughs since they can't be rehandled as easily with cooler handles. That said, I do like working with very nice tools while making cabinets/furniture. It just makes the experience of working more fun to me.

    Jim, that is a boatload of hand dovetails, congrats! That said I'm still a little fuzzy on why the balance is worse with the extra handle weight. My cheap Stanleys seem to reposition fine, but admitted I haven't done the volume of work you have.

    Zach, would a hammer be an inappropriate tool if the chisel was designed to handle it? I understand whailing away with a 3lb sledge wouldn't be nice for the blade, but why not design a chisel that can handle whatever tool you prefer? Like I asked Jim, i'm still unsure why the handle weight would be such a problem.

    Derek, I haven't tried a ton of different chisels, but just wanted to learn a bit to help give myself a little direction. There's a lot of options out there.

  4. #34
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    For me anyways, I hate the sound of steel on steel. I can't imagine pounding out a bunch of dovetails using a steel hammer on the steel strike button on a chisel. It'd make me think my name was John Henry.

    Another thought; whenever I go looking for a solution to a percieved problem and I come up empty handed it makes me re-consider whether I really have a problem or not.

  5. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Stanford View Post
    ...you want somebody to open your tool chest and say "damn, he used the living, stinking hell out of these things and there's a houseful of furniture (and satisfied customers?) to prove it."
    Charlie, you captured my sentiments exactly. Your quote is signature worthy!
    -Brian

  6. #36
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    That said I'm still a little fuzzy on why the balance is worse with the extra handle weight. My cheap Stanleys seem to reposition fine, but admitted I haven't done the volume of work you have.
    Any added weight may actually be of some benefit for balance, it just can become a bit unwieldy after a while. My paring is mostly done with short chisels. The balance point is usually at about mid socket.

    Also, it is a comfort item for me with fine paring. Using steel hooped or capped chisels will abrade one's hands if it has been whacked a bit with a steel faced hammer. Often during the colder months my hands are kept warm with Insulite® gloves. Any burrs on the metal of a chisel would snag and effect control. The more comfortable a chisel is in the hand while paring, the less distraction from the work.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. Quote Originally Posted by Brian Kincaid View Post
    Charlie, you captured my sentiments exactly. Your quote is signature worthy!
    -Brian
    Glad you liked it.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brody Goodwine View Post

    Jim, that is a boatload of hand dovetails, congrats! That said I'm still a little fuzzy on why the balance is worse with the extra handle weight. My cheap Stanleys seem to reposition fine, but admitted I haven't done the volume of work you have.

    Zach, would a hammer be an inappropriate tool if the chisel was designed to handle it? I understand whailing away with a 3lb sledge wouldn't be nice for the blade, but why not design a chisel that can handle whatever tool you prefer? Like I asked Jim, i'm still unsure why the handle weight would be such a problem.
    My hands would get very tired very quickly if I spent an entire day using a carpenter's chisel in place of a proper cabinetmaker's chisel. I would hate to use a chisel like you describe, as I prefer a more delicate, lighter, better balanced blade. I don't even like socket chisels, I much prefer 19th century tanged firmer chisels. If you haven't tried a proper cabinetmaker's chisel, there is really nothing that we can say to you to make you understand the difference. This is just something you have to feel to understand. And it is possible that you will never feel the difference. Not a bad thing, or incorrect, it just means it doesn't affect your work as much as it would mine.

    As for preference of striking tool, I believe you've answered your own question. They don't design chisels like you describe for precision work, i.e. cabinetmaking, because most cabinetmakers simply wouldn't prefer them for their precision work. As I stated before, I don't think many of them would use a hammer to drive a chisel (I certainly wouldn't, even if the handle were steel) so the design is utterly unnecessary for fine work.

    In my opinion, this is a solution searching for a problem. I don't believe it to be "superior" for cabinetwork. It may be superior for heavy work such as carpentry, but I'm not a carpenter so I don't care.

    But I do appreciate the topic, as it is interesting to see what others prefer.
    Last edited by Zach Dillinger; 02-05-2013 at 4:48 PM.
    Your endgrain is like your bellybutton. Yes, I know you have it. No, I don't want to see it.

    Ask me why I use hand tools, and I'll tell you

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zach Dillinger View Post
    But I do appreciate the topic, as it is interesting to see what others prefer.
    + 1 on this.

    What works for one may not be what works for another. It is usually interesting to see the reasoning for the choices of others and sometimes that perspective may cause a reassessment of our own choices. If my work involved more rough work outside the shop, then a few more Everlasting chisels might be in order. Currently there are a few chisels in my accumulation that get that kind of work.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #40
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    "Don't fall into the hype that your chisels have to be hand forged in a deep woods cabin by some guy who thinks he's John Galt and only uses exotic wood handles that probably would give you hives if not for the 37 coats of tung oil on them."

    Richard gets my vote for "best literature reference in a chisel handle thread"!!

  11. Hi Brody,

    Appreciate actively following your topic. I concur with Charlie's opinion; also largely depends what you may have in mind for intended use of your chisels... The "Strike-Through" feature referred to (as you already know) is presently available with the Stanley FatMax Thru-Tang models for a serviceable, active worksite, tool-belt carry. These are short-blade chisels for rough carpentry, but a bit longer than the economy Buck version, and certainly not paring chisels. I've recently been using my wide 2.0 inchers at a worksite where we've relocated and are correctly restoring, an authentic 18th century historic log-barn near Gettysburg. Smacking carefully laid-out 2.5" deep x 5" birdsmouth joints into seasoned red & white oak rafter plates. I thoroughly dress my field chisels with a medium diamond hone followed by a #4000 ceramic whetstone.

    While planarity of recent Stanley "made in England" factory grind chisels is not good, with enough prolonged effort against diamond plates, they will eventually conform, and I have no particular complaints about the durability of their steel; seemingly better than the recent Buck Bros... Using a mallet, as opposed to steel-faced hammer, against plated steel end-caps; they do seem to hold up to air-dried oak. I have to wonder if the 220 year seasoning (determined by Dendrochronology) of those heavy Oak timbers makes a difference!.. For contemporary bench use, I'm happy with my set of Marples Sheffield and several Crown Sheffield, all wood-handled paring chisels.
    Last edited by Morey St. Denis; 02-11-2013 at 9:33 PM.

  12. UPDATE. The Stanley FatMax Sheffield line of butt chisels for field use, briefly discussed here, has apparently been redesigned or differently sourced. Likely to reduce production cost or to maintain a certain price point, that Thru-Tang feature is now Gone. Product retains the same model designation, Stanley FatMax wood chisel model 16-9XX marked Sheffield, England. The plated steel end cap is now pressed in place by means of a 3/8" dia. x 5/8" central pin into a molded cavity within the polymer handle. There is nearly 3" of clear yellow polymer material between the newly shortened chisel tang and end cap extension. That full Thru-Tang integral to the chisel blade is now gone. This would have reduced their production cost as the handle must no longer be 2-stage injection molded in place surrounding the entire tang length and steel end cap. Product still indicates "Quality Steel" Sheffield, Made in England, as opposed to China or elsewhere... Believe they rightfully ought to have changed the model prefix number to disclose and distinguish from their earlier Thru-Tang FatMax versions.

    Perhaps this topic digression is now misplaced, as "Neanders" by definition; may largely be unaware of any attributes of polymer handle materials in combination
    with traditional steel bladed hand tools. I will say that I am usually more comfortable carrying polymer handled tools within a tool belt into the field whenever available, as opposed to finer "bench quality" tools due to a possibility of them falling several stories to the ground and their more beat-around (to my mind) character.

  13. Quote Originally Posted by Brody Goodwine View Post
    I have began using more hand tools in my hobby and have been considering upgrading my stanley 16-300 strike-through chisels. I'm sure their steel is somewhat inferior, but frankly outside of steel quality I'm having difficulty understanding why more top brands aren't designed as a strike-through (by strike-through I mean a chisel with steel extending through the handle). Help me out!

    Strike-Through Pro's
    - Can use any mallet/hammer in the shop vs just using a wood mallet
    - Chisel is more stable and won't fall out of socket with weather/humidity.
    - Will transfer more force if you decide to get aggressive with strikes.

    Strike-Through Con's
    - Fewer choices on the market (though this isn't a con for the handles, just the market)
    - You have to aim better with a regular hammer (though you can still use a big mallet and missing is user error, not a design issue)

    I'd like to justify some spendy chisels, but frankly I can't justify much more than just going to the Fatmax ones for the reasons above.
    It appears that most of these folks knocking strike-throughs and talking about hitting them with "big" hammers have never seen a 12oz. claw hammer. The HD closest to my house has 12 oz. hammers in I think three different brands. You can deliver a really crisp blow with strike-throughs and a small steel hammer. Some of the prima donnas posting in this thread do use steel hammers - $200 Japanese hammers.

  14. #44
    Brody, I have just the thing for you ...
    http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/pag...67&cat=1,41504

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