How we are spoilt for choice! Post WW2 there has been a broader range of all things woodworking whether that be sharpening mediums or the the variety of hand planes we have from which to choose. Chisels are not exception. Before WW2 most chisels would be a cast crucible carbon steel. Full details on that process can be found here. The vast majority of steel alloy used in chisels today will be one of the following types.
Chromium Vanadium (CV) – To be found in brands like Irwin, Faithfull etc.
Chromium Manganese (CM)- Narex
O1 & A2 – Offered as an option by many leading brands such a Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley.
PM-V11 – Specialist steel developed by Lee Valley.
All of these steels have their pros and cons. A2 and PM-V11′s trump card is edge retention while being slightly more tricky to sharpen. O1, CV and CM are easier to sharpen and some feel that they initially have a sharper bite than A2 or PM-V11. I will level with you I have no idea if A2, or PM-V11 are worth the extra time and effort, I have yet to try one. What I can tell you is that edge retention, within reason, is not too much of an issue to me. Sharpening regimes should be fast and easy in my view so touching up something to keep it sharp is more appealing to me than something that may be slightly more fussy to hone. Each to their own though.
I was very interested by Narex as a brand so did some searching and found buried a “fan site” of sorts which gives you a very comprehensive rundown of the steel used in their chisels and some company history. Curious to try these relatively low price point chisels I placed an order for a set of general purpose Narex 8105 Bevel Edge Chisels from Workshop Heaven.
Initial impressions are pleasing and I will share my thoughts on these with a thorough review. If I’m pleased with them I will be giving away my set of Faithful Chisels to anyone who’s reading the blog and wants them. More on that later.