Best Wood Chisel Sets for Woodworking: 2021 Review and Buying Guide

Best woodworking chisels

In a hurry? The 6-piece chisel set from Narex offers the right balance of utility, quality, and price per chisel. Keep on reading to understand what makes it the best wood chisel set.

I use chisels day in and day out for all kinds of projects – from joinery to art. As a woodworker and a wood carving artist, I am perhaps the best person to tell you this – your friends may desert you, your family might refuse to come near you because you are covered in sawdust from head to toe, but a good set of chisels will never, ever leave your side.

With this guide, I will help you choose a chisel set that will serve you a lifetime. We will review the 5 best woodworking chisel sets based on the following qualities:

  • General-purpose usability
  • Out of the box usability
  • Materials used
  • Price per unit
  • Construction

Let’s get to it.

Quick Comparison:

Top Pick
Narex 6 pc Set 6 mm (1/4), 10 (3/8), 12 (1/2), 16...
STANLEY Sweetheart Chisels Set, 8-Piece (16-793)
IMOTECHOM 12-Pieces Woodworking Wood Carving Tools...
VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking...
Kirschen 1101000 6-Piece Chisel Set in Wood Box
Title
Narex 6 pc Set 6 mm (1/4), 10 (3/8), 12 (1/2), 16...
STANLEY Sweetheart Chisels Set, 8-Piece (16-793)
IMOTECHOM 12-Pieces Woodworking Wood Carving Tools...
VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking...
Kirschen 1101000 6-Piece Chisel Set in Wood Box
Pieces in Set
Six
Eight
Twelve
Ten
Six
Handle Material
Wood
Wood
Wood
Rubberized
Wood
Blade Material
Chrome-Manganese Steel
High Carbon Chrome Steel
Chrome Vanadium Steel
Chrome Vanadium Steel
Carbon Steel
Made in:
Czech Republic
United Kingdom
China
China
Germany
Top Pick
Narex 6 pc Set 6 mm (1/4), 10 (3/8), 12 (1/2), 16...
Title
Narex 6 pc Set 6 mm (1/4), 10 (3/8), 12 (1/2), 16...
Pieces in Set
Six
Handle Material
Wood
Blade Material
Chrome-Manganese Steel
Made in:
Czech Republic
STANLEY Sweetheart Chisels Set, 8-Piece (16-793)
Title
STANLEY Sweetheart Chisels Set, 8-Piece (16-793)
Pieces in Set
Eight
Handle Material
Wood
Blade Material
High Carbon Chrome Steel
Made in:
United Kingdom
IMOTECHOM 12-Pieces Woodworking Wood Carving Tools...
Title
IMOTECHOM 12-Pieces Woodworking Wood Carving Tools...
Pieces in Set
Twelve
Handle Material
Wood
Blade Material
Chrome Vanadium Steel
Made in:
China
VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking...
Title
VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking...
Pieces in Set
Ten
Handle Material
Rubberized
Blade Material
Chrome Vanadium Steel
Made in:
China
Kirschen 1101000 6-Piece Chisel Set in Wood Box
Title
Kirschen 1101000 6-Piece Chisel Set in Wood Box
Pieces in Set
Six
Handle Material
Wood
Blade Material
Carbon Steel
Made in:
Germany

The 5 Best Woodworking Chisel Sets:

1. Best For The Money: Narex 853053 Set of 6

Narex 6 pc Set 6 mm (1/4), 10 (3/8), 12 (1/2), 16...
  • 6 piece set comes on a wooden presentation box
  • Blades are made from fine-grained, nicely tempered chrome-manganese steel and hardened to Rc 59
  • Contains the following sizes: 6, 10, 12, 16, 20 and 26 mm

OVERVIEW

Narex is a premium chisel maker, well-loved by woodworkers around the world. They are manufactured at a company-owned unit in the Czech Republic, making their quality consistently reliable. They compare well to the Stanleys chisels and many users would also recommend them over the Irwin Marples, which are another all-time favorite in the woodworking world. This set comes in a handy wooden box.

PROS

  • 25 Degree bevel makes it great for precision work such as dovetails
  • Metal-capped end makes the wooden handles less likely to crack
  • The price is better than most others in the same category
  • Decent sharpness out of the box

CONS

  • Needs flattening before it can be used for precision work.
  • The 25-degree bevel might blunt quicker with vigorous work.
  • Tang style chisels with two ferrules, may lead to splitting of the handle upon heavy use.

Overall, Narex have built a reputation for being moderately priced and yet making consistently good chisels year after year. They tend to last a lifetime and hold up well to all the required resharpening.

The steel is of good quality and provides all the performance that has become the hallmark of this brand. This set being in the lower end of their products just goes to show that they are serious when it comes to chisels.

2. Stanley 750 Sweetheart Chisels

STANLEY Sweetheart Chisels Set, 8-Piece (16-793)
  • Mpn: 16-793
  • Country of manufacture: United Kingdom
  • Manufacturer: Stanley

OVERVIEW

Stanley is a well-known and respected name in the woodworkers’ world, known for its good quality chisels. Each set comes with common sizes that will suit almost every need. Each set also comes with a leather carry pouch, which makes it an attractive choice for those who are just starting out. 

PROS

  • Handles can be replaced or removed easily while sharpening.
  • True fractional inch sizes and not the closest millimeter equivalent.
  • Socket chisels for greater power transmission and comfort
  • 30 Degree bevel makes it good for general purpose work 

CONS

  • The sides could be narrower, might need grinding for dovetail work.
  • Some need flattening before they can be used.
  • They need sharpening before any precision work can be done.
  • There’s no metal cap and the handle might crack eventually.
  • Expensive when compared to similar sets.

Overall, these are good mid-level chisels that will need some tuning and working before one can use them for fine work. They will cut softwood out of the box but that’s about it. However, they can be sharpened and flattened easily and retain their edge well enough.

3. IMOTECHOM WoodCarving Chisels

On Sale
IMOTECHOM 12-Pieces Woodworking Wood Carving Tools...
  • SHARPENED CHISEL HEADS - Accurately pre-sharpened by machine for all chisels.
  • BLADE - 60 Chrome-Vanadium blades outlast high carbon steel and will give you years of use.
  • HANDLE - Walnut wooden handle is harder and comfortable for using.

OVERVIEW

Apart from having a rather strange name, this entry is set apart from the rest by the fact it is more of a woodcarving set than a woodworking set. The price for this 12-piece set is lower than the 4 piece Stanleys up above. It is not the cheapest set of its kind on the market though and is liked by users who are willing to make an effort to tune them up.

PROS

  • The low price makes it an ideal gift or investment for those just getting started.
  • The steel is chrome-vanadium, making it stronger than the more common high-carbon steel.
  • The 12 pieces in the set give a wide variety for newbie carvers to hone their skills.
  • Some of the pieces can also be used for regular carpentry work.
  • The handles are ergonomic and comfortable to hold during long sessions.

CONS

  • The edges need squaring and lots of sharpening before any precision work can be done.
  • The pre-sharpened edges are often faulty, so they may not all be usable right off the bat.

For the price point and variety of this set, there’s not much that can be faulted except for the edges that need some work before you can start. That said, as far as chisels go, almost all need work before you can use them. This set makes for really great tools for getting started with and they can last long with proper usage.

4. VonHaus 10 pc Chisel Set

VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking...
  • SET INCLUDES: Set comprises 1 x ¼” chisel, 1 x 3/8” chisel, 1 x ½” chisel, 1 x ¾” chisel, 1 x 1” chisel, 1 x 1 ¼” chisel, 1 x 1 ½” chisel, 1 x 2” chisel (6mm, 10mm, 13mm, 19mm,...
  • HEAT TREATED: Heat-treated, chrome vanadium steel alloy blades with narrow side bevels
  • ERGONOMIC: Rubberised ergonomic grip handles with metal strike caps

OVERVIEW

This set gives you ten pieces (plus stone and honing guide) for half the price of the 6-piece Narex set on this list, which in turn is cheaper per unit basis than the Stanleys 4 or 8-piece set. It is the cheapest set on this list and a very popular option amongst new buyers.

PROS

  • Priced low while offering a good variety.
  • Comes with a honing guide and stone.
  • Chrome Vanadium Steel as opposed to high carbon.
  • Full tang chisels, making each strike more powerful.
  • Metal Capped ends give the handles longer life.

CONS

  • Plastic handles and not the most ergonomic ones.
  • Needs a lot of work out of the box to get a good edge.
  • 30 Degree bevel may not be suitable for precision work.
  • Thick sides are not ideal for tight and narrow spots.

As far as starter sets or second sets go, these are ideal for the price. But be prepared to spend a good amount of time flattening them and then sharpening them before you can do anything with them.

If you are willing to put in the work, they will give quality results, except for narrow areas, where the thickness will get in the way. The sharpening stone is not the best but the guide is fairly usable and always the recommended way to sharpen.

5. Kirschen 1101000 6-Piece Chisel Set

VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking...
  • SET INCLUDES: Set comprises 1 x ¼” chisel, 1 x 3/8” chisel, 1 x ½” chisel, 1 x ¾” chisel, 1 x 1” chisel, 1 x 1 ¼” chisel, 1 x 1 ½” chisel, 1 x 2” chisel (6mm, 10mm, 13mm, 19mm,...
  • HEAT TREATED: Heat-treated, chrome vanadium steel alloy blades with narrow side bevels
  • ERGONOMIC: Rubberised ergonomic grip handles with metal strike caps

OVERVIEW

This set is the most expensive on this list and charges a little more for 6 pieces than the Stanley 8 piece set. Made in Germany using German steel, the pedigree is an attractive one. Their construction quality makes them worth the price and you also get a box to keep them in. 

PROS

  • Sharp out of the box and take very little to give them a fine edge.
  • Flattening is required only in certain cases.
  • Retains an edge longer even at the 25-degree bevel.
  • Hardened steel at 61 Rockwell.

CONS

  • The hardness makes it harder to sharpen.
  • Expensive pieces for a beginner.
  • Sizes are all metric.

When it comes to hand tools, you get what you pay for. This is a very high-quality set of tools that is priced reasonably. It is nowhere near the top of the price wars but manages to sit at the higher end. The hardened steel makes it difficult to sharpen but that’s the trade-off you get for chisels that retain their edge longer.

This is an excellent choice for those looking for their premium set that will last a lifetime of use and then be handed down.

Buying A Chisel Set: Key Considerations

Chisels Are Like Pencils

No, really! A good chisel can be sharpened just like a pencil, becoming shorter every time but always as sharp. An edge that is sharp enough to cut through the end grain of a hard beam of solid oak can be easily gained with a good honing guide and a sharpening stone or diamond plate. This process can be done over and over again for decades.

Most chisels are not worth much in the edge department right out of the box. Almost all brands have to be sharpened and even flattened before they can be used. Some of the high-end ones are the only exceptions to this rule. I guess that they are just too scared to sharpen them in the factories in case they get a lot of workers who have missing fingers and toes!

Things to Consider

Since the days of yore, chisels have come a long way. There are a few important points to be considered when investing in a modern chisel:

  • Bevel – A good chisel has a clean bevel right down to the base. Not all chisels have bevels necessarily. We will discuss that in a bit.
  • Steel Quality – Too hard and it will be a nightmare to sharpen, too soft and it will blunt easily. So it depends on how hard you want to drive it.
  • Handle – Tang chisels have a ferrule that goes into the handle, making it more likely to split. Socket chisels are where the handle goes into a socket, making it less likely to fracture but does lose some power in transmission.
  • Size – If you are used to the imperial system and your chisels are in metric, there will be a problem. So this is more of a personal preference thing.

Types of Chisels

Here’s a quick list of the most common types and their functions in short.

Firmer or ‘Farmer’ Chisels – These are what grandpa used to use to knock out wood for hinges and doorknobs. They don’t have a bevel and are usually not preferred by modern woodworkers.

Bevel or Bench Chisels – Chisels that you use on the workbench, hence the name. They come with bevels, hence the other name. These are your workhorse chisels that will be used almost all the time.

Butt Chisels – These end up being the butt of all jokes but since I am a decent sort of fellow, I am not going to make one. But… when it comes to fitting into your hands and working in tight spots, they got your back. These are meant to be used with hand pressure only and never hammered.

Paring Chisels – These tend to be long, flexible, and expensive because of it. As the name suggests, these are great for when you need to pare off some material. Their alter-ego is the crank neck chisel, which is the same thing but with a tilted handle for ease of use.

Mortise Chisel – Chunky, and narrow, meant for creating mortises. There’s a variation called the sash mortise chisel which is lighter and meant for shallower work.

There’s a whole world of chisels and I have left out quite a few because they are not relevant in an introduction such as this one.

The Best One To Buy

So after careful consideration, the Narex 6 pc Woodworking Chisel Set is the one that I would recommend buying. They have the perfect balance between price, performance, and quality. It is great for beginners while still getting compliments in the hands of experts. They are well equipped for general purposes and excel in precision work. Since most modern users would go to a chisel for the final finesse and precision, this is an important point to consider.

The Narex set is a better option in my opinion than the Stanley and still holds its own when compared to the more expensive Kirschen set.

I would also make a special mention for the IMOTECHOM woodcarving chisels for keeping up with these workhorse-type sets and making a niche for itself in the woodcarving segment.

So that’s it from me. A hearty pat on your back for making it to the end. Well done! Do let us know about your selections for crowning the best of the best wood chisels. If you own any of the sets above, share your experience. Got questions? Or a dream item that you want us to review? Drop us a comment below and let us know.

For those who want a deep dive to find the best wood chisels, below is a video. Here the presenter owns about 100 chisels! I am not kidding you, that’s not a typo. He gives a long perspective because of his depth of experience and tips for bargain hunting expensive chisels on the used market.

About the author

Shailpik Biswas

Shailpik Biswas

I have been into woodworking and wood carving since around mid-2017. Creating new art pieces and functional projects for use around the house gives me immense pleasure. Wood carving is my go-to way to escape the hectic pace of everyday life.

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