Explore the History of Owen Marples
Since 1828, William Marples and Sons have been renowned for producing high-quality tools at affordable prices. Based in Sheffield, England, a city known for its top-notch steel production, Marples gained a solid reputation among British knife makers. However, the company faced challenges in the late 20th century due to Asian competition and labor unrest in England. In the mid-1990s, Irwin, a subsidiary of global conglomerate Newell Rubbermaid, acquired Marples and continued its legacy.
The Versatility of Beveled Chisels
The innovation of beveled chisels around 1820 revolutionized woodworking. These chisels, with their tapered rectangular shape and beveled edge, proved superior for cutting dovetails. The bevel design allowed better access when working with half-blind dovetails. Marples, in the 1980s, introduced beveled-edged chisels with plastic handles. However, the original boxwood handles still hold a special place in the hearts of many woodworkers.
Introduction to Irwin Marples Beveled Edge Woodworking Chisels
Irwin, while facing criticisms for manufacturing its chisels in China, upholds the quality and design of the original Sheffield models. The hardness of the chisels, ranging from RC 58 to RC 61 on the Rockwell C scale, ensures durability and sharpness, meeting the standards set by British manufacturers. Irwin presents three styles under the “New Marples” line. The Woodworkers Chisel, featuring the iconic blue plastic handle, was the focus of our review. Another style, the construction chisel, with its larger handle and steel plate, aims for increased strength but lacks the 1/8″ size essential for semi-blind dovetails.
Improved Design of Irwin Marples Woodworking Chisels
Compared to the vintage chisels from 1973, the new Irwin Marples chisels feature updated measurements that align more closely with the inch system. While my original Sheffield Marples 1″ chisel measured 25mm or .984″, the new Irwin Marples now measures 25.476mm or 1.003 inches. This compatibility with the imperial system proves advantageous when working on projects that require specific inch measurements.
Final Thoughts on Irwin Marples Woodworking Chisels
Irwin’s commitment to providing reliable and affordable tools manifests in their extensive range of chisels. With options available in various sizes, from 1/8″ to 2″, and the choice between traditional and high-impact construction handles, Irwin ensures versatility to cater to different woodworking needs. Despite being manufactured in China, these chisels embody the same level of quality and craftsmanship as their Sheffield predecessors. Irwin offers various packaging options, including bubble bags, nylon wallets, and wooden boxes, to suit individual preferences. The Traditional Woodworker set of 8 chisels typically retails around $85, but it’s advisable to invest a bit more and add the 1-½” and 2″ sizes to your collection for optimal functionality. Irwin Marples woodworking chisels are an excellent option for carpenters and woodworkers seeking affordable yet reliable chisels of exceptional quality.
This article is based on my personal experience and expertise as a woodworking enthusiast. I can assure you that these Irwin Marples chisels are a worthy addition to your toolkit.