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The Editors Mailbox

Surprise landing: Stanley's new Sweetheart chisels have arrived

comments (26) February 4th, 2011 in blogs

MKenney Matthew Kenney, senior editor
thumbs up 38 users recommend

Chisels reborn. Stanley has reintroduced its venerable 750 line. Here you see 1/2 in., 3/4 in., 1 in., and 1 1/4 in. chisels.
Descendents of a common parent. My Lie-Nielsen 3/4 in. chisel (top) and the Stanley are both based on the Stanley 750 line.
The edge of a bevel. On the Stanley, the edge is narrow, but bit taller than those on the Lie-Nielsen.
Barely an edge at all. On the Lie-Nielsen there is almost no edge, which makes it easier to get into tight corners when paring dovetails.
Chisels reborn. Stanley has reintroduced its venerable 750 line. Here you see 1/2 in., 3/4 in., 1 in., and 1 1/4 in. chisels. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Chisels reborn. Stanley has reintroduced its venerable 750 line. Here you see 1/2 in., 3/4 in., 1 in., and 1 1/4 in. chisels.

Photo: Matt Kenney

Earlier last summer, Stanley tools said that they were going to reintroduce the well-liked Stanley 750 line of socket chisels. That raised the hopes of many a woodworker. Well, autumn came and went and there were no chisels. Then a few pictures showed up on Stanley's website, but there were no real details about them. This week, out of the blue, we received a box from Stanley. Inside we found another box, containing eight chisels and a leather roll. Each of the chisels was individually boxed, too. Nice surprise. We're sending them out to one of our regular contributors to give a good testing and he'll report on them in the magazine very soon.

While they were here, I couldn't resist the temptation to take them out and see how they felt. I also brought in a few of my Lie-Nielsen bench chisels, which are also based on the original 750 line. I can't give an exhaustive review of the Stanley's, but I will point out some differences between them and the Lie-Nielsen chisels. I hope that will sate your hunger for information until we can get the official review into the magazine.


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The first thing that came to mind when I took the Stanley's out of the box is that I dread socket chisels in the winter. The handle fell right out of the socket. That's a problem with my Lie-Nielsen chisels, too. The way around it is to either epoxy them in place, or, (and this is what I do) wrap a few shavings around the tenon on the handle and seat the handle in the socket. That works pretty well. Okay, the second thing I noticed was that they are very light, even lighter than the Lie-Nielsen. That's because their blades are thinner. But they are still well-balanced in your hand. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with their weight. The second thing I noticed is that the sides of the chisels are a bit taller than the sides on the Lie-Nielsen chisels. That means they'll have more trouble getting into dovetail sockets, if you use them for that.

Here are few more details. The size chisels that we received: 1/8 in., 1/4 in., 3/8 in., 1/2 in., 5/8 in., 3/4 in., 1 in., and 1 1/4 in. The blades are made from "High carbon-chrome steel." The box says that they are "Made in England with Global Components." I'll leave it to you to decipher what that means, but the bottom line will be performance, and Gochnour will give us skinny on that after he gets them in his dusty hands and gives a good workout.



posted in: blogs, chisels, lie-nielsen, Stanley 750, Sweetheart


Comments (26)

urkie urkie writes: I am always cautious about purchasing new chisels. The last two sets I personally bought, (I did receive a fine set as a gift from my daughter) were "soft" and wouldn't hold an edge.These were top[ of the market chisels and I returned them forthwith. The last set I purchased still did not have the temper and hardness I expected so I drew on my 50"s apprenticeship training in the Canadian Navy, hardened and tempered each chisel, and now they work like good chisels should, (much to my surprise, not sure I still had the knack). Now I may try at least one of these new ones for comparison when they come on the market. Wonder if I still have the knack???
Posted: 1:01 pm on February 27th

james3one james3one writes: So, Matt, Highland now lists these as in stock and for sale. Any idea as to when we'll get some feedback?
Posted: 2:13 am on February 27th

thegrinch thegrinch writes: Not trying to be political, just observing that MOST americans are shopping at WalMart. Buying cheap goods. WalMart doesn't carry LN, because LN isn't interested in that market. If they ever become interested in it, I'll bet big the quality will drop sharply. You can call it greed on Stanley's part; or you can call it their business model.

I can think of some cheaper woodworking mags too, but here we are at the FW site.

You get what you pay for.
Posted: 7:41 pm on February 25th

Benito9 Benito9 writes: Can everyone please keep your politics to yourselves? No disrespect, but If I wanted assinine, ill-informed political rants, I'd tune in to cable news.
Posted: 10:14 pm on February 24th

casahanson casahanson writes: This is a woodworkers site not a political platform. Having said that the facts are...
Germans are the highest paid Labor force in the free world; Germans have the lowest unemployment in the free world;
Germans work a 30 hour work week;
AND Germans pay extremely HIGH TAXES, twice the average American;

This flies in the face of the high tax theory.

Their success is MADE IN GERMANY! Not high taxes.

This high tax red hearing is the battle cry of right wing extremists backed by greedy corporations.

If the cash goes offshore it benefits the corporations offshore.

KEEP USA CASH AT HOME, BUY AMERICAN.
Posted: 5:51 pm on February 23rd

joe4liberty joe4liberty writes: Sorrypathrat06, but Holtdoa is right. In America, we pay 48-51% of our income in taxes (depending on which government accounting figures you use), and these are the government's own numbers. Back in medieval times, the surfs only paid 1/3 of their income to the landlords, and we thought them abused when studying the time period in school. There is a reason why so many companies are headquartered in Porto Rico, and now out in the UAE. The fact of the matter is that we have far too many laws that are supposed to protect us, and we pay far too much money for the "service" as a result far too many of our companies are forced to go off-shore just to survive. Our industry is a cottage industry, and has faired better than mass markets (as attested by the presence of LV and LN, but at the end of the day, even in woodworking, most of us are not willing to choose between woodworking and paying the mortgage, so cost is a factor as with everything else, and the government's cut is simply too high in the good old U.S. of A. On the plus side, the government is so far in debt that bankruptcy isn’t far behind, and while the adjustment will be tough on us all, the fall-out will be Americans finally realizing that a huge bloated government is not only not worth the price tag, but completely unsustainable, and THEN we will see our American companies come back home to roost. Looks like Atlas is finally Shrugging.
Posted: 4:19 pm on February 23rd

casahanson casahanson writes: PS: The Bailey Chisels in the Amazon link are not 750 socket chisels. They appear to be "Tang" style.
Posted: 1:03 pm on February 23rd

casahanson casahanson writes: To all in the market for a great bench chisel set. Buy a full set Lie-Nielsen's and a couple of long handles for parring. You don't need offshore Stanley, but we do need to support our friends at LN. I look at tools as a life-time purchase or to business freinds a capital expenditure. My Architect Father always said "..buy the best and forget the rest...." This moto has never failed me. He learned well from my Grandfather whom by the way could have bought an offshore tractor but bought the more expensive John Deere...and it still serves our family well.

So, please ladies and gentlemen, forget about cheap and build yourself a great set of tools for life and help re-build a great nation.
Posted: 12:54 pm on February 23rd

Pathrat06 Pathrat06 writes: I think you give our government too much credit - any company that can't outthink a bureaucrat deserves to fold. Unfortunately, greed - not bureaucracy drives companies off-shore. European companies live in a much more regulated environment and continue to make quality products - which we Americans buy. A lot of American companies default to a mass-production model as the only way to make a profit and choose to go to countries without child-labor, environmental, or worker protection laws to make inferior products that get dumped on the US market at ludicrously low prices which we can't seem to pass up. The companies make cents on each product, but enough cents turn into real money eventually. The result is market-driven disposable tools that push out quality tool-makers. There is room for American companies to make and market quality products, but only if we support them. Unfortunately, we often get caught in the Black and Decker "buy one; get one for a penny" trap that says, "for a penny, I can always buy another one next week." Like water, markets follow the path of least resistance, and we consumers are the path of least resistance. No government support or leniency of laws will ever overcome greed that can feed on a $10 power tool.

Holtdoa writes: -----------------------------------------------------------
attaboy writes: As I understand it, Stanley shamelessly leverages it's great American pedigree while they are actually incorporated in the Caymans - or such. It makes me sick. I too am fed up with it and try as best I can to buy real American products from real American companies.
------------------------------------------------------------

I agree with the reaction, but I suspect from a totally different direction. I'm sick of our government driving American companies offshore and strangling those that do remain until they fold and their products are replaced by inferior versions.
Posted: 10:46 am on February 22nd

Holtdoa Holtdoa writes: -----------------------------------------------------------
attaboy writes: As I understand it, Stanley shamelessly leverages it's great American pedigree while they are actually incorporated in the Caymans - or such. It makes me sick. I too am fed up with it and try as best I can to buy real American products from real American companies.
------------------------------------------------------------

I agree with the reaction, but I suspect from a totally different direction. I'm sick of our government driving American companies offshore and strangling those that do remain until they fold and their products are replaced by inferior versions.
Posted: 12:34 pm on February 21st

mtnfreak14 mtnfreak14 writes: According to Chris Schwarz - who claims to have first hand info from a Stanley person- the blades are made (or at least treated - I don't remember) in the same facility in U.K. as the newer plane irons. He claims the irons were on par with any he'd used, though the planes overall were a bust.
Posted: 10:57 pm on February 15th

OzSkip OzSkip writes: If their past ressurection of the venerable "sweethart" line is anything to go by, they will be a shadow of their former greatness. I hope i am wrong though
Posted: 5:46 pm on February 15th

DTH DTH writes: "but the box says precisely what I quoted: "Made in England with Global components.""

Ok, so now we know the box is made in England ;)
Posted: 11:48 pm on February 13th

DavidWeaver DavidWeaver writes: I don't understand why they couldn't copy the original stanley 750s exactly, including making the thickness of the blade go all the way up to the top of the socket (instead of grinding them thin just below the socket).

Thin bladed chisels like that just look cheap, like manufacturing ease dictated the design.

There was nothing wrong with the old stanley chisels, the fatter blades with full thickness to the socket and the grind profile was just so much more pleasing.

Not that people won't be able to do work with these if they are properly hardened, but...you can do work with a lot of chisels, including chinese made chisels that often go on sale for $50 for a set of eight.
Posted: 3:43 pm on February 10th

attaboy attaboy writes: As I understand it, Stanley shamelessly leverages it's great American pedigree while they are actually incorporated in the Caymans - or such. It makes me sick. I too am fed up with it and try as best I can to buy real American products from real American companies.
Posted: 8:42 am on February 10th

lwj2 lwj2 writes: It'll be interesting to see how well they hold up.

I've got a set of boxwood hilted Marples chisels that I bought in the late 80s and still are my favourites, although I keep a set of 'beaters' around for things like puttying windows.

I ran into the shrinkage problem when I acquired a Witherby 1.5 inch chisel -- my solution is to pick it up by the socket instead of the hilt and give it a tap with a mallet.
Posted: 4:05 pm on February 9th

bradpeg bradpeg writes: Highland Hardware lists a pre-order price of $219.99 for the set of eight Stanley Sweetheart Chisels (including the tool roll). It will be interesting to see if HH or others lower the price once the chisels are actually available to ship.
Posted: 3:41 pm on February 9th

james04 james04 writes: If you look at the two photos in the Amazon link below. It looks like they are marketing the Bailey version as Sheffield steel with other components made "globally". Perhaps the leather roll and wood handles?

http://www.amazon.com/Stanley-16-401-Bailey-Chisel-5-Piece/dp/B003HGH3W2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297263419&sr=8-1
Posted: 10:00 am on February 9th

sodablue sodablue writes: I stopped in at the opening of our new Menards and was surprised to see the Bailey version of these chisels. 5 chisels with a nice leather pouch for $80. I'm not a chisel expert, and have a set of cheap Stanley chisels with plastic handles, but these looked really nice. The best quality chisel you used to be able to buy at the big box stores was the Irwin Marples line, and these were heads and shoulders above those. I wasn't able to closely inspect them because they were in the box and you could only see a bit of the handle and the top part of the blade, but they said Sheffield on the blade and looked high quality.

I think this is a pretty exciting development. Whether or not this experiment will pan out in the big box stores is another question, but the fact that a mass-production company like Stanley is getting back into quality tools is a great sign. I've watched as tools just got cheaper and crappier, and I'm pleased to see a company pushing back against the idea you have to compete on price alone.

Now if I can just get a decent saw...

Posted: 10:43 pm on February 8th

MKenney MKenney writes: Guys,

Sorry I didn't answer sooner. I'm in Canada on a photo shoot and haven't been able to check the site much. I'm not saying this in a snarky way, but the box says precisely what I quoted: "Made in England with Global components." That's all I know at this point. I'll see about finding out more. I know that it is an important question to many woodworkers here in the US.

Matt
Posted: 9:52 pm on February 7th

EdsShop EdsShop writes: james3one wrote an interesting comment. what is the answer? right at the moment I haven't seen where exactly these are available-perhaps I wasn't paying attention. for everyones sake I hope they get a decent review regardless of where made-however china is china, I am losing my patience with the number of products made there. I have made a conscious effort to avoid buying tools "made in china"
Posted: 8:26 pm on February 7th

james3one james3one writes: Did the box say that they were 'made' in England or 'assembled' in England? Sounds like they are trying to get around the made in china stamp, inferring that they might have been made in Sheffield.
Posted: 7:24 am on February 7th

MKenney MKenney writes: Swenson,

Current information about prices is on the way. As soon as we get it, I'll update this blog.
Posted: 9:41 pm on February 6th

Slowandeasy Slowandeasy writes: How about a comparison to the old Stanley 750?
Posted: 2:13 pm on February 6th

gsuing gsuing writes: The link to the Classic Hand Tools book is broken.
Posted: 10:19 pm on February 5th

swenson swenson writes: Did they indicate what the price range would be? How did that compare with the LN chisels?
Posted: 3:27 pm on February 5th

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