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This year, Veritas started making its own bench chisels, and I was happy to take a set for a test drive. The chisels were flawless out of the box. The blades are made from O1 tool steel, and they are stout, registering 5/16- in. thick at the ferrules and tapering to 1/8-in. at the bevel, or tip. Their side edges have bevels that extend all the way to the chisel face, and the backs are lapped dead flat, also rare.
The blade is secured to the handle with a barbed tang. A tapered stainless-steel ferrule enhances the blade-to-handle connection. The usable blade length ranges from 4-5/8-in. (1/4-in. chisel) to 5-1/8 in. (1-in. chisel).
The maple handles, toasted brown with a carmelizing process, add tough elegance and have subtle flats that help make them comfortable to grasp and keep them from rolling off the bench.
I used the chisels to chop and pare dovetails for a set of white-oak drawers. They have a very solid feel. Mallet blows are directly transferred to the workpiece with no flex or give. The beveled side edges make it easy to clean up dovetail corners, but they are a bit sharp to the touch. I’d be inclined to dull them slightly with sandpaper.
The O1 steel was easy to sharpen to a keen edge, which held up well in my tests. Overall, the performance of the Veritas chisels is on par with the best western-style chisels in my 2008 review (FWW #200). And if you can afford the increased price, the chisels made with Veritas’s new PM-V11 steel would be a worthy upgrade.
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