Review: Narex Richter chiselsChris Gochnour takes a look at these quality, capable chisels.
Narex Richter chisels don’t need a second chance to make a positive first impression. For me, it was so positive that I bought a set after trying out a student’s. I’ve used them now for months, and from day one I’ve liked the way they looked, felt in my hand, and performed.
The blade is impressive. There are no visible machine marks and no sharp edges apart from the cutting edge. It’s polished to a flawless satin sheen too. The chisel’s factory-ground 24° bevel is honed with a slight microbevel and suitable for use right out of the box. I still honed mine further to suit my personal preferences, allowing them to perform even better. The chrome-vanadium blades are tempered to achieve a minimum hardness of 62HRc. The quality of the steel and the way it is hardened and tempered makes the chisels very high quality. I could feel their hardness during the sharpening process. Although it was possible to sharpen with my traditional Japanese waterstones, it took a little extra time. Once sharp, though, the chisels stayed sharp for an extended period of time.
A key feature to these chisels is their side bevels, which taper to a very fine edge, making them ideal for reaching into confined spaces and angled corners, like those common in dovetailing. But the edges aren’t so sharp they slice you; rather, they’re polished and softened.
Narex fits the chisels with a stainless-steel ferrule that strengthens the connection between blade and handle. A leather washer sits between the ferrule and the chisels’ stout bolster to aid in seating the blade and absorbing harsh blows to the handle.
One final note: Unlike many other premium chisels, which have their backs ground to absolute flatness, my Narexes have a slight concavity along their length, like a bow. This isn’t a bad thing. The chisels behaved as if they were flat. Plus, sharpening them is often easier since only the leading inch or so has to be polished; the slight concavity facilitates sharpening this inch with ease.
If you are looking for a premium quality chisel set at a value-based price, the Narex Richter offers real appeal. It rivals other premium chisels on the market and costs a lot less.
—Chris Gochnour is a contributing editor and professional furniture maker near Salt Lake City.
Photos: Barry NM Dima