Wood chisels are great tools for creating pits or holes in the middle of wood or shaving down rough edges, where power tools would be too reckless or lower the piece’s overall charm. If you’re looking to get into handcrafting wooden products, you’d be remiss to leave a good set of chisels out of your shop.
However, it can be hard to shop for chisels online. Not only are there a ton of brands, but it’s hard to read through advertisers’ marketing tactics to see if a set is high-quality or not. That’s why we’ve assembled a list of reviews of the best wood chisel sets of 2020.
We also included a buyer’s guide, so if you’ve never shopped for wood chisels before or need a quick refresher, you can find everything you need to know before you buy.
|Stanley 16-401 ||5-piece||4.8/5|
The VonHaus 10 pc Premium Craftsman Set is a great deal for the serious woodworker who wants great tools that can be had for a great price, too. These chisels are made from a heat-treated chrome vanadium steel, which gives them fantastic strength, helps them hold their edge for longer, and means they’ll last a long time. They come with rubberized grips, which make them easy to hold, though they have a metal strike cap on the end which makes them suitable for hammering.
You also get a high-quality wooden case, which looks great, something that can’t be said about most tool cases. The real gem in this set is the honing guide and sharpening stone. You’ll be able to get the perfect bevel every time with the blade guide, and the included sharpening stone makes it a fast and easy process. The only real downside to this set is that you have to sharpen the chisels yourself. However, you might find it fun. It would be hard to place this set any lower than first on our list given its tremendous upside and the fact that you can get it for a great price, too.
The Stanley 16-401 Bailey Chisel Set 5 could have been first on our list if it were not for the previous entry. Unlike the first model, it comes with pre-sharpened blades right out of the box, which means you can get to work right away. These blades also come lacquered, which keeps them safe during transport and helps them resist corrosion. Some people like this feature, while others will wash the lacquer off immediately. It also comes with a high-quality leather sheath, which isn’t a fully protective case but does a decent job of keeping the chisels safe.
The big problem with these chisels is that they’ll need frequent sharpening, and they don’t come with the tools you’ll need to sharpen them. This set is also expensive for a set with just five chisels. That makes it underwhelming. While you’re getting good quality, you’re not quite getting what you should at that price point. Overall, this is a good set of chisels, but the price and the constant sharpening mean they can’t quite edge out our first place set and fall to second on our list.
The Narex 4 pc set 863010 is a fascinating set given its high-quality chisels. They’re made from chrome-manganese steel, which isn’t the hardest steel alloy you can find, but still does a remarkably good job of holding an edge. And while the manufacturer warns that you’ll need to sharpen the chisels yourself before use, you’ll find that these come with an excellent edge already most of the time. There’s no guarantee that will be the case, but it’s always nice when there’s a chance a tool will be “better than advertised” right out of the box.
These chisels feature an all-wooden handle, but they’re tanged near their end which makes these chisels safe for use with a hammer or wooden mallet. The only substantial knock against this set is that it doesn’t come with a storage case. You’re still getting a good price overall, but the value could be a bit better. If the manufacturer included a case or lowered the price a bit, this set would rise on our list. Overall, these are great chisels, even if you can’t quite get them at a fantastic price.
The Stanley 15-150 3-Piece set is the best choice for bargain hunters. If you need chisels for a project or two but aren’t expecting to use them for the rest of your life, then these could be a good choice for you. The very best thing about this set is its price, which results in a very-low per-chisel cost. These blades also come lacquered for rust resistance, which is a nice touch at this price point. The blade is also uniformly hardened, so you’ll be able to sharpen the chisel all the way up to the hilt.
Which is a good thing, because these chisels hold an edge poorly. That means you’re going to be constantly sharpening them between, and sometimes during uses. They also come with polypropylene handles which aren’t nearly as nice as the wooden ones on other models. Overall, you’re still getting a good deal here, easily the best for the money, but that’s more because these chisels are very cheap and not because they’re extremely well-made.
You might think you’re getting a deal given the price of the Marketty 12 Piece 8573330 relative to the number of chisels that you’re getting. But, like many deals that seem too good to be true, this one also falls short of the mark. It does include a carrying case, which isn’t he nicest one on the market, but it’s better than getting nothing. The manufacturer also claims that these chisels come pre-sharpened.
However, several problems interfere with this claim. Many people report getting a set that wasn’t properly honed in the factory, which means you’ll have to go back and sharpen them before using them yourself. They’re also made of inferior metal that tends to be too soft. That means they easily chip and that they don’t hold an edge well for very long. And then there are their short handles which make them harder to use and lowers your overall accuracy. Ultimately, this will be a frustrating set of chisels, and you’re probably better off investing your money in a better set.
It’s not always easy to shop online, but we hope that what you’ve read so far has made the relative value of different chisel sets far clearer to you. If you still have questions about which model will work the best for you, be sure to check out this buyer’s guide which is packed full of great information about wood chisels, suitable for the novice and expert alike.
The blade quality is the most important feature of a wood chisel, by far. Many faults can be forgiving if the chisel has a great blade, while many great features will be wasted if the blade doesn’t work well.
A great blade is one that is strong and durable. It resists chipping and scratching, and it holds its edge well, even when used a lot. While some people may think that blades that you sharpen yourself when you first get them are better than those that come pre-sharpened, that’s not the case. You can get great chisels that come pre-sharpened, and, unfortunately, every company doesn’t perform this service for you.
Since most companies use one steel alloy or another on the blade, you can’t necessarily tell from the product description as to whether you’re getting a good deal or not. One of the best ways to work around this is to read product reviews. If there are complaints about frequent sharpening or chipping, then it’s probably best to skip that set.
Once you’re confident that you’re getting a high-quality blade, the next thing to consider is the chisel’s overall quality. The handle is the other significant part of a chisel, and so you should take it seriously. The best handles are made of wood, which moves the center of gravity to near the center of the tool. Plastic handles are generally worse because they’re not as durable, but also because they often end up with a very high center of gravity which can make them unwieldy.
However, if you get a wooden handle, you have to keep hammering in mind. Wood is less resistant to hammering than plastic, so you’ll want to look for a model that either has a reinforced tang to take the blow or a custom-fit metal baseplate.
While these extras don’t make the chisels in the set better or worse, they do influence the overall value of the set. For instance, a set of chisels with a wooden or plastic case is worth far more than the same set of chisels that comes with a leather or plastic carrying pouch, and those would be worth more than the same set of chisels coming without any protective casing at all.
Some sets also include extras that make sharpening your chisels easier. One kit on our list included a sharpening stone, which is a great deal for the money, though you can do most of your sharpening with sandpaper if you feel the need to save some money. The inclusion of a honing guide also makes for a good deal, since it’s imperative that you get the right angle on your chisels to have an effective cut.
The first, and best, thing you can do before looking into chisels is to figure out what chisels you need. What sizes do you need, and do you need a lot of variance in size, or are there a few that you’re likely to use repeatedly? Once you’ve figured this out, it gets a lot easier to find a set that you’ll end up liking. Furthermore, if you don’t buy more chisels than you’ll ultimately use, then you’ll save some money and get fantastic value on your buy.
The VonHaus 10 pc Premium Craftsman Set is our top pick due to its heat-treated chrome vanadium steel blades, nice wooden case, and the inclusion of a sharpening stone and honing guide. The Stanley 16-401 Bailey Chisel Set 5 is our runner up, coming pre-sharpened and with a nice leather pouch. The Narex 4 pc set 863010 hold their edge well and come pre-sharpened, but lack any case or pouch, so they fall to third on our list. The Stanley 15-150 3-Piece set is the best choice for the money, giving you three chisels at an unbeatable price. The Marketty 12 Piece 8573330 struggles to hold an edge, which makes it a very frustrating and low-value model.
Hopefully, our buyer’s guide and reviews have shown you what to look for when shopping for chisels. While no set will be right for everyone, we hope that our information has led you to the one that is right for you.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!