Steel Not Flat

Hi David,

Just read your woodworking tools advice page which I found very useful. It was nice to have confirmation of all kinds of thoughts I have held regarding the edge tools I have been buying and using for the last ten years or so. I am a self employed woodworker and so absolutely rely on my tools being at the very least up to the job in hand.

I have just bought two Sorby framing chisels from classic hand tools. I found the 1 1/2 ” chisel to be fine and with minimal work am sure it will be a great tool, (I already have the shipwrights chisels by Sorby and they have been great). The 2″ chisel I sent back because the blade was (in my opinion) unbelievably bent. Over the length of the blade I estimate it was about .75 of a mm convex on the working face of the chisel. I have just received the second chisel, slightly better but basically the same problem. Am I being overly sensitive about this? It seems like an awful lot of work to have to lap such a big chisel with that amount of error. I am now under pressure to be using this tool and so will just get on with it unless there is a good chance of having a chisel that is flat to start with.
Thankyou in advance for your time, your insight into this issue would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,

Ben Richardson.


Hi Ben
You know yourself that the back of the blade is the only reference surface you have. I have some blades that I know are like your blade – flatish – but I don’t use them for paring or chopping back to big surfaces that have got to be smack on. They sit in the bottom of the tool chest and rarely come out. I do go for that blade that may be bit too narrow or too short but I trust it cause I have used it for thirty years and it’s yet to let me down. That blade, funny enough, is dead flat.
My advice is do the job best you can, then take a bit of time and flatten that blade as properly as you can . Then buy yourself a pint!
All the best and thank you for the feedback


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