best wood chisels uk

Best Wood Chisels in the UK (2022 Reviews & Buying Guide)

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In all my years of woodworking, there’s nothing more satisfying than the feel of a sharp chisel cutting through wood. 

Whether you’re a time-served joiner or a keen amateur, your choice of chisel depends on the job at hand.

This guide will show you the best wood chisels in the UK for general usage and explain the different types of chisels for more specialised work.

In a Hurry? Here’s our Top Pick for the Best Wood Chisels in 2022:

Sale
WORKPRO 3 Pieces Wood Chisels Set, Bevel Edge Wood Carving Chisel, Chrome Vanadium Steel Hammer End, Bi-Material Soft Handle, for Wood Craft DIY Woodworking
  • 【High-Quality Material】 Drop forged, heat treated chrome-vanadium steel, superior strength and durability, rust resistance.
  • 【Precision ground blade】Razor sharp precision blade, excellent edge retention allow for a lifetime of use, supplied with blade guards
  • 【Comfortable Control】Ergonomic bi-material handle grip for easy holding and helps reduce vibration and hand fatigue, full length blade guard for added safety
  • 【Multi-Purpose Usage】Bevel edge design is suitable for all kinds of wood working, steel butt designed for heavy pounding with a hammer or mallet
  • 【3 Pieces Hand Carving Chisels Set】Length: 230mm/9 inch. Width: 1/2’’(12mm),3/4’’(19mm), 1’’(25.4mm)

The Best Wood Chisels in the UK – 2022 Reviews

man hammering a chisel

I’ve spent hours researching and testing the best chisels on the UK market so that we could declare a clear winner – the WorkPro 3-piece chisel set. This fantastic set of chisels covers most situations around the home and should last you a lifetime if you look after them.

Read on for more details on each product we tested, starting with our clear winner:


1. WorkPro 3-Piece Wood Chisel Set

Sale
WORKPRO 3 Pieces Wood Chisels Set, Bevel Edge Wood Carving Chisel, Chrome Vanadium Steel Hammer End, Bi-Material Soft Handle, for Wood Craft DIY Woodworking
  • 【High-Quality Material】 Drop forged, heat treated chrome-vanadium steel, superior strength and durability, rust resistance.
  • 【Precision ground blade】Razor sharp precision blade, excellent edge retention allow for a lifetime of use, supplied with blade guards
  • 【Comfortable Control】Ergonomic bi-material handle grip for easy holding and helps reduce vibration and hand fatigue, full length blade guard for added safety
  • 【Multi-Purpose Usage】Bevel edge design is suitable for all kinds of wood working, steel butt designed for heavy pounding with a hammer or mallet
  • 【3 Pieces Hand Carving Chisels Set】Length: 230mm/9 inch. Width: 1/2’’(12mm),3/4’’(19mm), 1’’(25.4mm)

This WorkPro 3-piece set came out on top for the following reasons:

  1. Strength and durability of the blades
  2. Sturdiness and comfort of the handles
  3. Overall impression of quality

Although only 3 pieces – 12mm, 19mm and 25mm – this WorkPro 3-piece set covers most jobs around the home, such as fitting hinges or door locks. If you want to form a nice mortise joint, you’ll probably need to add a smaller chisel to the set.

These chisels feel good in your hand, and the drop-forged chrome vanadium (Cr-V) steel blades provide excellent strength and durability. 

With their finely polished, electroplated finish for corrosion resistance, these WorkPro chisels are built to last.

With an overall length of 230mm, WorkPro chisels are well balanced and easy to manipulate. 

The polypropylene (PP) handle includes thermoplastic rubber (TPR) inserts to provide a better grip. Also, the metal striking plate at the end allows for use with a hammer or mallet.

ProsCons
High quality, razor-sharp blades.You’ll need to purchase an extra chisel for fine joinery work.
Easy-grip, non-slip handles built for comfort.The cost per chisel works out to be more expensive than the others tested.
The three chisels provide a wide range of widths. 
You can use a hammer or mallet with this set. 

2. Gunpla 4-Piece Wood Chisel Set

Gunpla 4 Pieces Wood Chisel Set Woodworking Carving Heavy Duty Hand Tools 1/4", 1/2", 3/4" and 1" (6mm, 12mm,19mm, 25mm) with Soft-Grip Handles
  • Gunpla wood chisels fashioned with premium quality high carbon steel that enhances their longevity, making it usable for many years. They are fully hardened and tempered, with high concentration placed on making the carving chisels perfectly sharpen for optimal use.
  • The contains 4 pieces wood chisels; 1/4", 1/2", 3/4" and 1" (6mm, 12mm,19mm, 25mm respectively). They are versatile, can be used to carve wood, soft plastic, solid wax, art crafting & more. These are the ideal assets for most handcrafting jobs, for both professionals and beginners.
  • The bevel-edged blades with their blade lacquer coating do not only strongly resist wearing but also provide outstanding clearance when trimming or sharpening, even into angled and tight corners. Every cutting edge is honed and buffed ready for immediate use.
  • The wood carving chisel set is diligently devised by our professionals in order to avoid corrosion when well taken care of and they won’t rust and serve properly and accurately.
  • Our heavy duty chisels are made with non-slip soft rubber handle grips. The handles are ergonomic for comfortable yet secure grip giving you complete control during use. The chisel tools are oval and the softer inserts ribbed.

This Gunpla set consists of 4 chisels – 6, 12,19, and 25mm – to cover most applications, amateur or pro. 

The blades are formed from premium high carbon steel with a lacquer coating for a longer lifespan.

Although the blurb says these are bevel-edged, they have a square edge before the bevel, thus making them a bit of a hybrid. This design has the advantage of creating a more robust blade, especially at the thinner end of the set, but it makes it difficult to get into tight angles.

The ergonomic design of the polypropylene handles makes them easy to use over long periods, and the ribbed rubber inserts ensure the chisel won’t slip during use.

Each chisel has a metal striking plate at the end, meaning you can use them with a mallet or hammer. This construction is ideal if you have a range of jobs requiring different sizes, but each needs the extra force that a mallet provides.

Although they come fully sharpened and ready for use, they may need some honing to remove factory markings and burr from the cutting edge.

ProsCons
The set includes four chisels that cover most jobs around the home.Honing may be required to remove burr and markings.
Ergonomically designed non-slip handle for ease of use. 
Lacquer coated blades protect against rust, improving longevity. 

3. Draper Expert 88605 8-Piece Wood Chisel Set

We exceeded our £20 budget (by around 50%) on this Draper Expert set, but look what you get for the money! This set includes six chisels (6, 12, 20, 26, 32 and 38mm), a honing guide and a sharpening stone!

The bevel-edged chisel blades are made from hardened chrome vanadium steel with a clear lacquer coating for corrosion protection. As with most sets, the 6mm chisel is square-edged, but that shouldn’t be an issue in most cases.

The polypropylene handles have soft grip inserts for ease of handling, but they don’t have striking plates. However, the manufacturer claims that the handles are impact-resistant and can take a hammering.

Pro Tip: I recommend using a wood or rubber mallet rather than a steel hammer.

So, let’s look at the “extras”. A honing guide helps get a precise cutting edge on the blade. The aluminium oxide sharpening stone is also a must-have, although some might prefer a grittier stone than the one provided.

This extra is handy, but you can pick up a decent sharpening kit for less than £15, including an oil bottle. Still, six chisels for that price represent good value. 

On the downside, you may have to hone the blades before using them for the first time. Several users raised this issue.

ProsCons
Great value for money. I.e. 6 chisels, a sharpening stone and a honing guide in one kit.The blades will probably need some work before you can use them, and this might be more than just honing.
This set includes a wide range of blade sizes.This kit could be expensive if you already have a honing guide and an oil stone.
It comes in a nicely presented set in a blow molded case. 

4. Rolson 56159 4-Piece Wood Chisel Set 

Sale
Rolson 56159 Wood Chisel Set - 4 Pieces
  • 4pc Wood Chisel Set
  • Precision ground blades
  • Drop forged, heat treated blades
  • Impact resistant plastic handle
  • Size: 6, 12, 19, 25mm

At the low end, price-wise, the Rolson 56159 is an excellent 4-piece chisel set for a beginner or as a backup for a more seasoned DIYer. 

The set comprises all the sizes necessary for most jobs – 6, 12, 19, and 25mm.

The bevel-edged blades are made from drop forged heat-treated carbon steel. Although drop-forged steel is solid, the quality of the finish is only as good as the die used to forge the blade. A poor die may be why so many users complain about defects in the cutting edge of the Rolson chisel.

The handle is made of plastic and is said to be impact resistant. However, there isn’t a metal striking plate, so I would be cautious about using a hammer.

The Rolson is a decent chisel, but it lacks that bit of quality that sets the others apart.

ProsCons
Good value general purpose chisels.They will likely require sharpening and shaping before first use.
The 4 sizes included cover most jobs.There’s no striking plate on the end of the handle.
High strength drop-forged steel blades retain their sharpness even after heavy use. 

5. AmazonBasics 4-Piece Wood Chisel Set

Amazon Basics 4-Piece Sturdy Chrome Vanadium Steel Woodworking Wood Chisel Set – 1/2 Inch (13mm) to 1-1/4 Inch (32mm), Wooden Handles with Carry Pouch
  • Set includes: 4 x chisels: 1/2 inch (13mm), 3/4 inch (19mm), 1 inch (25mm) and 1-1/4 inch (32mm)
  • Heat treated: Heat treated chrome vanadium steel alloy blades and bevelled edges
  • Comfortable design: Comfortable wooden handles improve accuracy and reduce hand strain; includes metal strike plate on end
  • Safety storage: Storage pouch with buckle closure keeps tools organised and secured

As with many chisels we looked at, this AmazonBasics set is classed as bevel-edged, but the blades have a sizeable straight edge before the bevel, which might not suit everyone.

The blades are manufactured from heat-treated chrome vanadium steel, and the widths are 12, 19, 25 and 32mm. I would have preferred a 6mm blade rather than the 32mm as I think this would provide a better choice for most carpenters and DIY enthusiasts.

The wooden handles incorporate a metal striking plate and a metal hoop to stop the end from mushrooming after repeated blows. 

The wooden handles have a natural warm feel, but the varnished coating will wear off after repeated use, leaving a rough bare wood finish.

ProsCons
A choice of 4 heat-treated chrome vanadium bevel-edged steel blades.The set lacks a 6mm blade for accurate joinery work.
Wooden handles incorporate a metal striking plate and hoop.The varnished coating on the handles will wear off over time, leaving a rough finish.
The set comes in a storage pouch with a buckle closure to keep the chisels safe and in order. 

The Best Wood Chisels in the UK – 2022 Comparison Table

ProductNo. and size of Chisels (mm)Type of HandleBlade MaterialCostRating out of 10
WorkPro3 – 12, 19, 25PP and rubberDrop forged Cr-V££9
Gunpla4 – 6, 12, 19, 25PP and rubberDrop forged carbon steel£8.6
Draper6 – 6, 12, 19, 25, 32 and 38PP and rubberDrop forged Cr-V£££8.4
Rolson4 – 6, 12, 19, 25PlasticDrop forged carbon steel£8
Amazon Basics4 – 12, 19, 25, 32WoodDrop forged Cr-V££7.5

Best Wood Chisels in the UK – Buying Guide

two different size chisels above a block of wood

What Makes a Good Chisel?

There are two main components to a chisel – the handle and the blade, and both are equally important.

Chisel Blade

The steel blade is made up of a cutting edge at one end and typically a tang, which slots into the handle at the other. Both are important to the chisel’s longevity.

The sides or edges of the blade can be straight or bevelled. Straight edges leave a neat 90⁰ shape and are best for mortise joints, but bevelled edges are better for forming shaped joints such as a dovetail joint.

For more on the difference between straight and bevel-edged chisels, check out the video below by Paul Sellers:

YouTube player

The tang must fit tightly to avoid working loose. Some chisels have a metal ferrule to reinforce the joint between handle and blade.

Material

Most chisel blades are made from carbon steel, and the amount of carbon determines the hardness and toughness of the tool. 

High carbon steel is more rigid but less tough than low carbon steel, which means it’s more prone to cracking. In a chisel, hardness is the crucial factor.

For additional strength, chromium-vanadium (Cr-V) can be added to form an extremely hard yet tough alloy, ideal for chisels that’ll take a hammering during their lifetime.

Manufacturing Method

Traditionally, chisels were hand forged by heating the metal and hammering the cutting edge into shape. Sometimes, molten metal was poured into a mould and allowed to cool before forging or machining.

These days, virtually all chisels are made using the drop-forge method. This method involves heating the metal until red-hot and placing it on a die. An upper die is then “dropped” onto the piece with sufficient force to shape it in the form of a chisel blade.

The shaped blade is then immersed in water to cool it down quickly. This heating and cooling process is known as tempering, and it’s this technique that makes drop-forged chisels so hard.

Chisel Handle

The handle must be comfortable and are made from wood or synthetic materials such as plastic and rubber.

Some handles have a steel hoop or a striking plate at one end. This hoop/striking plate prevents damage to the handle when used with a mallet or hammer. 

Handles designed for striking have a cone-shaped section that fits into the blade’s socket instead of a hole where the tang slots.


Other Considerations

Below are other essential factors to consider when buying high-quality chisels.

Sharpness

manual sharpening of wood chisel on a grinding stone

When you buy your new chisels, you will, naturally, expect to start using them straight away. But often, you may find there are markings on the cutting edge of the chisel or slight imperfections that require attention.

These markings are standard on all chisels, even the more expensive ones, as they are part of the manufacturing process. Annoying as it might seem if you want to get the best out of your tools.

If you watch this video by Paul Sellers, you’ll get some idea of the type of defects you might find on a brand new set of chisels and what you need to do to correct them.

What’s the Difference Between Honing and Sharpening?

Honing is the process of realigning the cutting edge of a blade by rubbing it against a block of oil stone or water stone. 

Use a honing guide to maintain the perfect angle – around 25⁰ or 30⁰ depending on the tool. These tools are cheap, and they will save you a lot of time when trying to get a perfect edge.

When you sharpen a blade, you remove some of the material, so you’ll need a harder block than the steel you’re sharpening, such as a ceramic or diamond grit block. These blocks are often called ‘whetstones’, with ‘whet’ meaning to sharpen, nothing to do with water.

In most cases, the cutting edge only needs honing before first use, and you may have to do this each time after heavy usage. 

If you use your chisels a lot, you also need to sharpen the blade occasionally to keep it in good condition.

Water Stone or Oil Stone – What’s the Best Stone?

Water and oil stones typically use aluminium oxide as an abrasive with grit sizes varying from 140 to 4000. 

The lower end is used for repair work when the chisel’s cutting edge is damaged. 

Mid-range stones – 400 to 3000 – are used for sharpening, and the high-end stones – anything above 3000 – are best for honing and finishing.

One obvious advantage of a water stone is that no special oils are required, just tap water. This attribute also makes it easier to clean.

Water stones are softer, so the old grit comes away easily, leaving fresh grit to hone your chisel, resulting in a faster process. The downside is they wear out quicker.

Oil stones use a harder binder, holding the grit in place longer so they don’t wear out so quickly. They usually come with a bottle of honing oil, but any mineral oil works. Some even use vegetable (cooking) oil, but this is an expensive way to lubricate a stone.

For years I’ve used an oil stone made from carborundum – silicon carbide (almost as hard as diamond). It never seems to wear down! I use it for knives and chisels, with just a little 3-in-1 oil to catch the swarf.

Width of Blade

A good selection of blade widths is essential to cover a range of jobs that need tackling around the home or on-site. Starting at 3mm (⅛ʺ), standard blade widths increase in increments of 3mm up to 38mm (1½ʺ).

That’s ten chisels in total! You can’t expect to own all ten unless you’re a pro, so which ones should you add to your toolbox? If you only have three, make sure these are 12mm, 19mm, and 25mm. If you can stretch to four, add a 6mm blade to the set.

This range covers most situations, and you can always add to your collection later if specific needs arise.

Cost

You’ll find quite a difference in prices when looking at chisels and chisel sets. 

At the top end, a set of ten Ashley Iles cabinetmaker’s chisels will set you back £380, but you’ll have every size available, and they’ll probably last a lifetime.

We looked at chisels at the more affordable end of the spectrum for this review to see what we could get for less than £20. 

There’s a great choice on the UK market, but there’s no point in skimping on cost if the product falls apart after the first hammering.


Looking For Something More Adventurous?

woodworker carving wood

If you want to do more with a piece of wood than just form a recess or a mortise joint, you might want to consider adding a couple of gouges to your set. Gouges come in various widths and depths, either convex or V-shaped.

This little box set from Narex is a great way to start wood carving, either as a hobby or for the keen amateur joiner. Costing around £40, you get a skew chisel (slanted cutting edge for precise paring), three gouge chisels (shallow, medium and deep), and a V-tool.


Best Wood Chisels in the UK – Final Thoughts

In this review, the WorkPro 3-piece chisel set came out on top because of its strength, comfort and overall quality.

However, if you’re looking for a good, economical 4-piece set, the Gunpla set is well worth considering.

Are you looking for an excellent project to test your new chisels? If so, check out our guide to fitting a new door handle from scratch.


FAQ – Best Wood Chisels UK

What is the best manufacturer of wood chisels?

This question is tricky because it primarily comes down to the chisel type you’re looking to purchase. In terms of quality, many would confess that Czech-based Narex Richter is one of the best. But what other manufacturers are in the frame? Here are a few that spring to mind:

Ashley Iles – a Lincolnshire family business that started in Sheffield in 1949, and they have been making quality products ever since.
Pfeil – being Swiss-made, you expect perfection, and Pfeil chisels won’t disappoint.
VonHaus – although Manchester-based, manufacturing is outsourced to China and Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, VonHaus is known for making quality products.

Are Irwin Marples chisels any good?

William Marples and Sons began making quality tools almost 200 years ago in Sheffield, England, but the tools we see today bearing the Irwin Marples logo are made in China.

The old Marples chisels are revered by many as being the best. Some are still in use after 30 years or more!

Are the modern Irwin Marples chisels as good? According to Wood Magazine, “The blades sharpen easily and cut nicely, but dull quickly,” scoring only 4.3 out of 5. However, despite the need for regular honing, most users seem to like these Irwin Marples chisels.

How good are EZARC chisels?

EZARC chisels have a traditional look with shiny chrome vanadium blades and lacquered wooden handles. The 6-piece set comes in a nice wooden box and is priced well at less than £50.

As we found with many chisels, EZARC chisels are classed as bevel-edged but have a significant square edge before the bevel. So, if you intend to do any detailed work, such as dovetail jointing, these chisels are not for you.

However, the steel blades are sharp straight out of the box, and they retain their sharpness even after medium use. The handles also have a nice ergonomic feel making EZARC chisels a product worth considering.

Which chisel is best?

The choice of the best chisel comes down to factors such as price range, type of usage, and longevity.

In this product review, we looked at chisels at the low to medium end of the market in terms of cost, and the WorkPro 3-piece set came out on top. However, if we were to raise the budget, other chisels would come into the frame.

If you’re a pro or regularly need to use a chisel, it’s worth looking for something that feels comfortable in your hand and lasts for a long time. When you find a chisel you like, you’ll want to keep it for a long time, so a blade that stands up to regular use and honing is essential.

For this reason, I would go for anything in the Narex Richter range. Not too expensive, Narex Richter has a chisel for all occasions.

What’s the best way to sharpen a chisel?

To clarify, sharpening a chisel entails removing some of the material from the blade, which means using an abrasive that is tougher than the steel used to form the blade. Diamond, ceramic and carborundum are the usual choices for this job.

If the blade simply needs honing, i.e., a realignment of the cutting edge, then aluminium oxide grit blocks will suffice, either with oil or water as a lubricant. To get the perfect angle, you must use a honing tool.

Is a wood handle better than plastic?

Wood handles are the traditional choice, but modern plastic handles are better designed, and they’re often more comfortable to use. Moreover, polypropylene handles with thermoplastic rubber inserts provide a better grip.

What size chisels are best for a beginner?

For your first set of chisels, you can get away with three – 12mm, 19mm, and 25mm. However, if you intend to do more intricate work, such as a mortise joint, add a 6mm blade to the set.