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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Seems to me that a lot of folks don't rate Sheffield steel made post 1940, and in this I refer to chisels. Growing up, and I'm only 51, I never heard a tradesman call it inferior, it was always regarded as being the best. A couple of members of my carving club particularly advised me against it, the carving author Dick Onians also doesn't rate it, so what happened?

The chap who leads my carving club informed me that Henry Taylor only harden the first inch or so of their chisels and Ashley Iles are quite soft, but what about vintage Marples chisels, before Irwin bought them out and "Chinesed" them?

Surely Sheffield didn''t forget how to make steel in the last 76 years, and for those who buy chisels at car boots etc how do you find the edge holds up on your chisels, and are they pre-1940?

As an ex-foundryman and moderately qualified in metallurgy I'm a little bit confused by all this talk, what are your opinions?
 

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There are a number of well known carving tools out there. The compassion of may steels are good for what they were formulated to do.. Not all make good carving tools. Auriou, Pfeil, stubai are a few of the well known tools. Many of my friends are happy with Flexcut. .Some of the older steels were a lot more bridal than today's carving steels and while you can get a good edge on the older tool they do not seem to hold an edge as well as the newer tools. At leased that has been my experience..
 

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Having worked in the steel industry and tool making in Sheffield, don't lets forget Sheffield was primarily the heart of the cutlery industry and the making of higher quality tool steels an heavier cutting was a progression. When talking old tools forging was the main production method i.e. the steel was worked rather than machined to shape and this produced excellent tools. I buy all my standard mallet type chisels from car boots - high quality at a good price, most of these have to be reworked to produce the cutting edge and I have never had a problem with them. Flexcut make good carving chisels, the reason being in the name as they are made using a a thin spring steel which allows the tool to "flex" when being used ideal for palm tools.

High quality hand forged chisels and knives can still be purchased for the purist amongst us - a good UK forgemaster is Nick Westermann, take o look at his wares - nicwestermann.co.uk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@ Gloops - I take it you mean you buy your carving chisels at car boots etc? Any particular brands you look out for?
 

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@ Gloops - I take it you mean you buy your carving chisels at car boots etc? Any particular brands you look out for?
Yes car boot sales, if you have worked in the industry it seems second nature to sort the whet from the chaff and handles can also give a good indication specifically the ones with brass collars, The important part is to check the pitting in the groove of gouges as this will be the cutting edge, in some I have cut back 30mm or more to get to a clean area and then reground and sharpened. I have over the last few years collected 25 plus and probably only paid £30 for them all. Happy hunting.
 
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