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Barr chisels additions

Posted by is9582 on July 26, 2012 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

In my last post, I mentioned how it took quite a while to receive the set of chisels, once ordered. Well, I ordered a 1/8″ and a 3/8″ chisels to compliment this set, and hopefully cover sizes needed when dovetailing. These two chisels were ordered on Monday and guess what? I received the shipment yesterday. I again ordered these through Highland Woodworking, but this time the maker sent them directly to me, instead of flowing back through the store.

As usual, these two new additions are great looking. I was in the middle of something yesterday, so I’m hoping to get these sharpened today. I’ll again modify the chisels so they are more in line with the manner in which I prefer to sharpen. (See my previous post to get all of the details).

3/8″ & 1/8″ chisels with shipping tape removed from cutting edges, but residue not yet addressed.
Closer view showing shape below the sockets (tape residue more obvious).

I like the way the 1/8″ chisels is shaped. It has some beef (just like everything Barr makes), yet Barr shapes it so it is lighter looking and nimble. Great balance, too.

I’m still progressing with my back recovery, but hope to put these to use soon, so I can provide some feedback for everyone.

Barr Chisel set and leather roll

Posted by is9582 on July 22, 2012 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ll start this entry by just saying it out loud, “I love chisels”! There, now no one will ever mistake why I have so many from different makers. Haha.

I ordered the four piece chisel set (1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″) from Highland Woodworking and with the length of time it took to ship from Barr, I might guess he makes them as the orders arrive. This is in no way meant as a slight, only as info for anyone that decides they would like a set. 
When the chisels arrived, I was pleased to see the leather roll in which the chisels lived. The roll was nicely stitched and has a decent heft to it. Each of the four chisels had grey duct tape wrapped around the cutting tips. I assume this is so they don’t accidentally cut into the leather in transit. A couple of minutes using a paper towel and some nail polish remover and all of the sticky residue was history. The handles are made from Ash and have heavy duty hoops to prevent any splitting. Interestingly, the 1″ chisel is the only one in the set that has the Barr logo on it. The size of the logo is somewhat limiting, and is stamped into the steel on the top surface. 
1/2″ Chisel with duct tape as received.
1/4″ Chisel with tape removed.
1/4″ Chisel back after removing tape.
These aren’t actually my first Barr tools, as I purchased a mortising chisel from Barr a couple of years ago. The mortising chisel arrived with a note regarding how to resharpen when needed. I found this interesting and when I read through the note, I saw why he’d included it. Most chisels I’ve used, whether mortising, bench or paring, usually had either a flat bevel or one that was concave, created on grinding wheel. Some have had a combination of the two. Well, Barr does seem to use a grinding wheel for the initial bevel, but instead of honing a flat for the secondary bevel, he creates a convex bevel. Basically, starting at the secondary angle and lifting the handle as the chisel is moved across the stone, until it just reaches the cutting edge. He references this as a cutting edge similar to the cutting shape of a Japanese sword, although the sword would have this shape on both sides of the long cutting edge. Think of a knife with a hollow ground on both sides, and instead of the concave shape of each side, in place make it a convex shape. This shape has more meat behind the cutting edge and was likely at least a contributing reason the Japanese swords were so strong. This was the concept behind Barr’s mortising chisel, but I thought it was unique to the manner in which this type of chisel is used, with the heavy pounding down into wood and potentially levering. Well, I was partly surprised when this set of bench chisels arrived with similar edge shapes. I suppose those that are highly skilled at hand sharpening might just leave the shape alone, but I prefer a flat bevel, which is primarily due to edge strength and ease of honing. I find it much easier to repeat the flat, without accidentally changing the honing geometry, which for me was too easy to do when I was hand sharpening. I’d find that after subsequent sharpenings that I’d raised the angle well beyond what I intended. 
Side view of 1/4″ chisel after reshaping bevel and honing.
Like most tools, these were ground to a decent level, but still required some honing on the water stones. I worked the backs up through 8000 grit, removing all grinding marks. I then moved to changing the bevels to my desired shape. For this, I used my Kell honing guide. These chisels are stout and with the change in thickness occurring quickly, as you move back from the tip, I found this guide held the chisels consistently. When I first started out, I pulled out one of my old diamond stones that was in the 400 grit range. I knew it would take quite a bit of time to remove the steel, and since I use the stone with some water, I didn’t harm the temper. I worked on the 1″ and 3/4″ chisels over multiple days, as my back is still a work in progress, and standing for long times is a problem. The smaller 1/2″ and 1/4″ chisels with the smaller amount of steel to remove, went quickly. After working the bevels to the point where I could just feel a burr, I moved over to my waterstones. I worked the bevels up through 8000 grit, as well. After the time on the stones, they were shaving sharp.  
I’ve used them briefly, after honing, and I like the way they feel. During the time I was waiting for these to ship, I decided to also get the 1/8″ and 3/8″ versions of these chisels. Since I like to cut dovetails, I just prefer to have coverage over the sizes between the 1/4″ jump in the set. Hopefully it won’t take as long for the other two to arrive. As info, the leather roll that comes with the four piece set, happens to have six pouches for chisels. It was almost like it was meant to have the other two chisels in the set. 😉
I’ll update the blog as I have more time under my belt with these chisels. Let me know if you have any questions.