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Tool Review: WoodRiver and Ahsley Isles Chisels

Tool Review: WoodRiver and Ahsley Isles Chisels

Ashley Isles Bevel Edge Chisels

Peter Sefton reports on the Ashley Iles Bevel Edge Chisels he recommends to his students.

I bought my first set of Ashley Iles bevel edged chisels almost 10 years ago and the original Mk1s have served me well. They have since been superseded by the Mk2 which came out with improved quality of grinding and smaller handles. The traditionally hand-forged Sheffield steel is quick and easy to sharpen and produces a very keen edge - just what I require for fine furniture making; not over brittle or hard...

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By Peter Sefton 

WoodRiver Bevel Edge Socket Chisels

For someone looking for a bevel-edge socket chisel at a lower cost, these are a solid option.

WoodRiver has entered the bevel edge socket chisels market with a full range of sizes, including the basic four-piece set (1/4 in., ½ in., 3/4 in., and 1 in.), which I tested for this review. For someone looking for a bevel-edge socket chisel at a lower cost, these are a solid option.

Out of the box, there was a lot to like about these tools. They’re well balanced, with a light-weight handle that makes gripping them down by the edge during chopping less fatiguing than many other chisels. WoodRiver’s advertising boasts of the extra attention paid to the flatness of the backs during the manufacturing process, and this proved true in my experience. Each chisel only required a few minutes of work before its back was polished and ready to go. Similarly, the bevels all had a consistent grind that was quick to hone to razor sharpness. The smartly shaped beveled edges give the tool good mass, but with a very fine, consistent land (the flat between the side bevel and back) that won’t interfere with working in confined spaces—e.g., dovetail sockets. The edges were too sharp right out of the box, but less than a minute with sandpaper cured that on each chisel.

An ideal bench chisel should excel at both chopping and paring wood, so I put the WoodRivers through their paces in both tasks in pine, cherry, and walnut. The CR-V steel blades took a fine edge and held it well in paring work, which allowed me to create glassy surfaces on white pine end grain for quite a while before any noticeable degradation of the cutting edge—a commendable feat. 

By Bill Pavlak for Fine Woodworking