talking shop

Our newsletter often gets reader’s responses, here’s a conversation I’ve had with Peter Carlsen about bent chisel blades…


So what do you think of the Narax chisels, which to my experience come very flat and are very inexpensive due to their mastering some of the metal issues you discuss. In the end if you can get a dozen good chisels for the price of one chisel made in England or Maine, why punish yourself.

Peter Carlsen


Hi Peter
I am hoping to get my hands on these. Matthew at Workshop Heaven has been promising to send me some for student to try. When he does we will tell you. iIwill copy this to him as a reminder . Can I blog this please as its a good question; great tools do not have to be expensive.
all the best.



You surely can blog my response. The handles don’t feel as nice as a Lie Nielsen chisel, but then they cost $7.50 (5 pounds) here for most of them verses $55 to $65 (35-41 pounds) for the beautiful one. So as I am want to do, I exaggerated the number of Narax chisels you get for the cost of one of the others, but the difference is still eye raising with the quality of the blade almost equal.




Mathew did respond:



Hi David and Peter,

The Narex chisels have been an unbridled success, we are getting through pallet loads of them.

The backs are not technically hollow ‘ground’ although the effect is the same, they are CNC machined flat and then contract slightly during the heat treatment process which conveniently presents the important bits for polishing.

We currently have a batch in production with lightly waxed natural hornbeam handles – a somewhat overdue result of our conversation when I came to visit you at Rowden David. We also discussed bolsters, which Narex do beautifully, very fine and light.

I still haven’t completely cracked replicating the feel of the old box handled marples, which I believe comes as a result of having a hand forged and ground tang. Getting chisel manufacturers to invest in altering a bit that is never seen can be like trying to persuade the electricity board that hand dug coal will make better electricity, nonetheless I will continue to persevere.

I believe we are now at a stage with the Narex cabinetmakers range where they will measure up to anything else currently available and beat them hands down on price. I’ll get a set of the new ones down to the workshop for inspection as soon as they arrive.

All the best,



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