WoodRiver Chisel Guards Review by Jonathan Salisbury, The Woodworker October 2019

Sharp edges

New chisels often come with rigid plastic guards to protect you from them, as well as protecting the sharp edge from any contact with anything that will chip it. Guards on old chisels, even if they had them in the first place, are usually long gone; lost, thrown away after splitting, or just seen as a ‘useless’ bit of packaging. Even after spending hours grinding, honing and polishing chisels and gouges, replacing lost guards was just not something that I’d expect to be able to do, although I did once have a go at making one from wood.

What you get

The WoodRiver silicone chisel guards are slightly larger, chunkier versions of the originals, but they are not made of the same material. Since they are flexible, stretching to fit and grip the chisel end, they stay in place. For the common bevel-edge chisel, sizes are a like-for-like fit (i.e. the size stated fits that width of chisel). They are not specifically for one width, so the smallest fits everything from 18in to 14in, the next 38in to 12in, and so on.

Not just for bevels

However, you might have more than bevel chisels. What then? Because of their flexibility, the guards can be pushed onto other types too, such as firmer or mortise chisels. At this point you need to just find one that fits well, even if it is a bit baggy. The guards also fit gouges (although the curved edge is not always fully covered), router cutters, plough plane irons – in fact, almost anything thin enough!

Safety first

One thing that concerned me is that the WoodRiver guards require a greater force to push them onto the end of my sharp chisels than the originals, because they grip more. Slipping is really not what you want to do, ever. What seems to be an obvious finger/thumb grip actually doesn’t work, but there is a knack! Squeezing the sides opens the gap and allows the chisel to slip in or out. The little window allows you to see if the edge has been pushed in enough.

Conclusion

If you have fixed workshop storage from which your chisels rarely move far, guards are possibly not essential. However, if your chisels occasionally fall off the bench, or get knocked by other tools, one of these on the end would be good insurance. I used to keep chisels loose in a tool box because I had no other choice. They often came out with chipped points because the guards didn’t stay in place. The availability of replacements is therefore fantastic, and will stop that horrible shudder I get as my newly polished chisel heads edge first towards the garage floor. The one downside to these guards is that they can only be bought in a set of all sizes; if I order enough for my collection I’ll end up with lots of the larger ones left over.

Swapsies, anyone?

Specification

  • Soft silicone chisel edge guards go on and stay put
  • Protect edges against ‘hard knocks’
  • Fit chisels from 3 - 33mm (1/8" - 1 1/4")

The Verdict

Pros
Flexible to provide a tight fit on almost all chisels and gouges; excellent protection from accidental damage; safer to put on than rigid guards

Cons
Only available in a set

Rating
4.5 out of 5

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WoodRiver Silicone Chisel Guards

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