Tool Review: Narex Dovetail Chisels
Affordable dovetail chisels
If you’re considering a dedicated dovetail chisel at a moderate price and don’t mind a large handle, consider Narex’s new dovetail chisels. Their sides are acutely beveled at 35°, ideal for working in confined spaces. While the 1⁄32-in. flats on the sides are not as small as I’d have expected for a dedicated dovetail chisel, the tools still get the job done.
With their hollowed back, the blades are strikingly similar to Japanese chisels. The hollow makes it particularly easy to produce a flat, polished back by minimizing surface area along the 2-1⁄2-in. blade. Unlike the laminated blade of a Japanese chisel, though, the Narex blades are entirely chrome-manganese steel. Hardened to Rc59, the blade sharpened to a keen edge with no trouble using waterstones. In use, the chisels held up well.
I like the high-quality fabrication and steel, the hollowed back, and the reasonable price, though I didn’t care for the oversize handle. For a finesse tool like a dovetailing chisel, I found the handle clunky and long, and its balance problematic. If you don’t find this an issue, though, these dovetail chisels will work for you.
—Chris Gochnour builds furniture
and teaches in Salt Lake City.