Stanley Sweetheart Chisel Set
The New Stanley Sweetheart (SW) Chisel set. When you seek to produce a quality tool for working wood you don’t need rocket science or even PMV11 to make a great tool. For generations Stanley made the best tools available, then for some reason they stopped. I don’t know why and neither do you as we were not on the board that decided to end production of high end tools and began the decline of Stanley as it was known. This year has brought a movement from Stanley to return to quality tool manufacturing. They introduced several models of SW hand planes and they also re-released these 750 style chisels under the famed SW logo. Now we all know Stanley can do whatever Stanley wants and if they want to build these tools in the USA and charge a huge premium for them they can. However for many years Stanley has been a multinational company and for whatever reason, they chose to make these chisels in Sheffield England.
The Chisels arrived in a plain brown box, and in that box was another box covered with print. In that box was a leather SW logo tool wrap, very well made, and also 8 little boxes. Each box held a chisel and in the box was a little slip of paper telling you how to make the totes stay on by sanding the tips with 200 grit paper. I did this to each tote and they have not popped off at all.
The chisels were painted with a lacquer paint on the totes and on the blades. In the interest of rust prevention I chose to leave as much of the paint intact as was possible. The first thing to do was to flatten the backs. This is a chore that has been done by joiners and wood wrights for centuries. I don’t expect any but boutique tools to come flat and a mirror finish on the back and Stanley has never been a boutique tool company. I was pleased to find even the worst chisel took no more than 10 minutes to have a flat mirror finish on it, starting with the 300 grit trend diamond plate then the 400 grit Naniwa stone then the 1000 the 6000 and finally the 10000 grit stones Some went very quickly at only a couple of minutes to the worst at 10 minutes.
Then I went to the bevels and I kept the 25 degree bevel they came with I didn’t see a reason to grind them and so I didn’t. Instead I went to the Whetstones from Naniwa, starting at 400 and on through 10000 grit online casinos using each stone in order just like I did on the backs. I then removed the burr from the back and the chisels were ready to use.
I put them to practical use in the shop I did not run all of them through a torture battery, but I did perform such a battery on the 1/2” and the 1-1/4” chisel. I used these through the time they were sharp to working sharp to working dull. I pared with them, and chopped mortises with them using the Paul sellers method, and finally re-honed them when they became working dull.
I have used these chisels for 3 months in the shop on a daily basis and have found they hold their edge very well. I was pleasantly surprised at how well,and I was very surprised when I read the spec sheet later to find they were O1 steel and not A2.
When you buy a set of chisels you are committing to a regimen of sharpening, and if the tool is soft you will be sharping a lot. This will not be the case with the O1 SW chisels. I have found them to be every bit as good as the vintage 750s I own and better in some ways.
The other significant factor is price. if you’re going to buy this set of 8 chisels you will get them under 250 dollars at most retailers and that is a fraction of the price of Premium chisels on the market yet the performance to the dollar is very well spent choosing the new SW chisels.
If this is just the beginning of the Phoenix of Stanley’s SW brand I will be happy to take my hat off to them and if I have their ear I would say to them go ahead and make your own High end chisels with a PM of your own. I am sure you can come up with a steel that will compete with the Veritas steel if that is the way you want to go. I will also ask and encourage you to expand the SW line to a full set of planes and hand tools.
There is a market for many of the vintage tools you have designs for and the world is eager to buy the SW logo. I expect to be using this set of chisels the rest of my life and I am not worried I will spend too much time sharpening them. They hold their edge very well and they hit a great price point. They have excellent balance and nice Horn beam handles. I will cherish them for the rest of my days.
To my readers I recommend these tools to you because they are high quality. Maybe not the very best in the world of PMV11, but I will say the best for less.