Friday 02 July 2010
Marc Fish checks out this box of Czech chisels
I am not sure the Czech Republic is known for its chisels, so when this set of six arrived on my bench, sized from 6-26mm, I was a little surprised. I have to admit that I have never heard of the make and they don't seem easy to find in the UK.
The design is traditional. The blade tang goes into the handle, which is reinforced at the base and top by a ferrule.
The handle shape has flats to stop the chisel rolling off the bench. I prefer a round handle, but that's just me. These were made of beech stained a matt black which comes off quickly, so could be removed with a light sanding. A natural beech handle version is available but I have not been able to find them in the UK.
On the whole, the handle seems strong and robust with the ferrule at the top of the handle, implying it would take a good mallet session, but also a hint that they may not be that suitable for fine work.
Unusually, the blade is made of Isothermally Hardened Chrome Manganese. This has been hardened to Rockwell 58. Out of the box they require quite some work to get ready for use, but no more than any other chisel in this price range.
The back has machining marks that can just be felt with a fingernail. It took me around 15 minutes to get the back on one of the middle-sized chisels flat; I only worked on the last inch not right back to the handle. I only go to those lengths on a paring chisel where the back needs to be flat along the entire length.
I re-ground the chisel to 30 degrees on my Tormec grinder and then worked through the different grit sizes of 3M micro finishing film.
It takes and holds a keen edge (the closer to a mirror finish the sharper the blade) and these come up very shiny in a reasonable time.
The bevel edges on these chisels are far too big for tight work like cutting small dovetails.
The quality of these chisels is not affected by the astonishingly low cost. Compared with other chisels in their price bracket, these represent incredible value for money. I would happily recommend them to those starting out with a limited budget. With a little work you will have got yourself a good chisel.