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American Edge Tools and their Makers


 
  $4.00 Chisels... by Bob Smalser 1 of 3  

$1.00 chisels? Donít stop with just a few, Chad.  Actually between buying, rehabbing and selling off the excess or on commission, I averaged slightly less than $4.00 a chisel for myself.

When eBay came along I decided oldies were so cheap I no longer had to compromise on tools.  And later at morning coffee several of the local shipyard friends who didnít use computers saw a few and wanted to fill out their pre-war tool sets, too.  So I guess Iíve brought a few hundred back to life in the evenings.  Pre-war cutting tools were drop-forged instead of investment-cast like today, and many prefer their edges.

I finished out my sets years ago so I donít have any to sell.  But Iíll pass on what I learned.  As long as the chisel is old, factory-made, and intact with good length remaining, Iím not too concerned about condition short of severe pitting. For me, blade backs are easily ground on the belt sander to flatten and remove pits, sockets can be repaired, steel can be polished and blued to hide the staining, and handles are easily made on the lathe.

Anything marked "Stanley", "Witherby", "Winchester", "Chas Buck" or "L&IJ White" is generally going to a collector for too high a price unless they are part of large, handle-less lots, along with some Swan's.

Older (not newer) Greenlee and Buck Bros, New Haven Edge Tool, Ohio Tool, DR Barton, Underhill, Union Hardware, Jennings, GI Mix, Shapleigh Hardware, Eric Anton Berg, Dickerson, Gillespie, Dixon, PS&W or PEXTO, Robt Duke, Fulton, Merrill, Butcher, Stiletto, Hibbard OVB, Simmons Keen Kutter, Lakeside and several other old makers and hardware store brands are every bit as good as the collector prizes and are much less expensive. 

Most unmarked chisels of that era were usually made by one of the above makers for a hardware distributor and are also generally excellent.

The only really poor socket chisels I've observed are newer Craftsman (older socket Craftsman were often made by Greenlee) of chrome-vanadium steel, some "Eclipse" brand and the occasional Stanley Defiance that refuse to take an excellent edge.  Also, used tool dealers rarely know their wares well, and you have to look at each and every listing in detail to find what you need.

Lathe Tools:

Long Parers:

Paring Slicks and Gouges:


 
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