response to recent article – carbon steel


I greatly enjoyed David Savage’s review of chisels that showed the Narex blades to be such good quality and value ( ) – I have been using a set of the regular bevel edged chisels now for some years and have found them to be excellent and durable
– and I’m not one that looks after his tools like a cabinet maker. David Savage’s reviews are renowned for being “warts and all” which makes them not only very readable, but demonstrates their independence from any manufacturer’s pressure. It also shows that Matthew Platt clearly has confidence in the products he provides from Workshopheaven for such scrutiny.

Matthew Platt’s initiative to import more of the extensive Narex range has been very useful to those of us needing quality on a budget and who cannot afford/justify LN prices (for example, his Narex morticing range is possibly the only inexpensive full range individually available).

He has also taken the opportunity to have Narex chisels imported with handles that suit the UK market better (as Narex’s main business is in middle Europe, their stock handles reflect that market’s custom and practice). Narex also provide a wide range of “custom” handles for an importer to specify ( – so it’s to Matthew that David should be addressing the wish for the removal of the Narex logos, rather than Narex.

David Savage’s reviews are few and far between, but well worth waiting for. I look forward to the next one.


Iain Whittington


Thank you Iain, for the encouragement; taking pops at tool importers and manufacturers is not easy, at one time many years ago i had a Sheffield maker offering to “send the boys round” if i kept on.



As a keen amateur on a pension, I am of that age where I felt I was losing the battle about knowledge/skills loss in my own profession before I retired, mostly driven by accountants, but also starting with a narrowing education/training base from the ’60s onwards. Other nations in Europe that invested in “craft” training, even before the war, have had a slower rates of skill decline, especially the former “Warsaw Pact” nations, where Russia left national education/training alone, which continued much as before the war and re-emerged in the ’90s as skilled master craftsmen and engineers. But they are all now catching up with us (& USA) where price comes before value. For example, the last bastion of laminated steel in Europe was Scandinavia, where previously any Frost Slöjd knife would have had a forged laminated blade, now we commonly see non-laminated blades offered in Norway & Sweden, so you need to read the small print before buying. Like Japan, the hand forged laminated blades from China (which I routinely use) are also now in decline, although the Chinese still routinely use rolled laminated steel in their own traditional tools, it is clearly not specified by the importers for European style export models. As you noted with your Quangshen review, there are competent modern manufacturer’s in places like China – and elsewhere in the world, and they would seem to still have engineers that understand and continue to develop hand tool steel – if only the importers/specifiers had the knowledge to know what to ask for and sense not to cramp the budget.

However, it takes “honest” tool reviews like yours that include budget hardware (which are hard to find), to identify the pearls from the hype.


Iain Whittington


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