Ashley Iles Mk. 2 Bevel Edged Cabinetmakers Chisels
The Mk2 bevel edged chisels from Ashley Iles have all of the qualities that define good English cabinetmakers chisels. Because Ashley Iles chisels are individually hand ground they are not subject to the limitations of mechanised chisel manufacture. They have light, very thin blades that taper to almost nothing on the sides but are still plenty strong enough for gentle tapping with a mallet. The backs are ground a few thou concave, so although they are well within the flatness tolerances required for fine joinery chisels, they are a doddle to prepare and maintain.
"This is one of the best thought-out series of chisels I have come across. Consideration has been given to all the fundamental points from sharpening and edge retention, to use, gripping and balance. It therefore follows that these are the chisels I am recommending to all enquirers!"
-- Michael Huntley, Editor, Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine, Issue 147 p85
Ashley Iles Mk.2 Butt Chisels
Also known as American pattern bevel edge chisels, Ashley Iles butt chisels are superbly proportioned for chopping work. The short length makes them lighter and more nimble than a full size bench chisel and the top of the chisel stays within your peripheral vision so you don't have to keep switching your attention between the cutting edge and the handle.
If you like the proportions of Japanese Oire Nomi chisels but prefer a flat back, very finely bevelled sides and an unhooped handle, Ashley Iles butt chisels are an excellent choice.
It is my belief that the name butt chisel stems from 'the butt end of an old chisel'. Although I have read conflicting hypotheses about the origin of the name it does make sense that a chisel with half the blade sharpened away and half of the handle used up becomes a preferred tool for all manner of jobs. It follows that at some stage someone would have asked to have a new set of chisels made like that and the next thing you know butt chisels have become a separate species.
Because Ashley Iles chisels are individually hand ground they are not subject to the limitations of mechanised chisel manufacture. The sides of the blades are beautifully fine, the backs are ground a few thou concave, so although they are well within the flatness tolerances required for fine joinery chisels, they are a doddle to prepare and maintain.
Ashley Iles Dovetail Chisels
Round-back chisels are a traditional profile that appeared typically on larger sized chisels, but died out sometime in the late 19th century. Seeing the potential benefits of this design for dovetail chisels we worked with Ashley Iles to develop some and they have now grown to be one of our best selling chisel ranges.
The shoulderless chisels have elliptical faces that form an acute angle along the sides of the blade, this design gives excellent clearance right into the corners of a joint. The other advantage of a round back is that it makes the chisels very comfortable to hold in a pinch grip when paring. If you already have Ashley Iles hand ground bevel edged or butt chisels the sides are ground finely enough for dovetailing anyway so these would be a treat rather than a necessity. If you use ordinary general purpose bevel edged chisels (bevelled firmers as they are correctly described) then AI dovetail chisels will offer a clear advantage.
Although shoulder clearance is essential, it is never quite enough on its own. So after consultation with Joel Moskowitz of the New York Museum of Woodworking we also included a lovely pair of left and right handed 1/4" cabinetmakers fishtail skews, which combine the benefits of both skew chisels and fishtail chisels enabling you to reach all of the tricky spots that you can't get at with a straight chisel.
Ashley Iles Firmer Chisels
Heavier and much stronger than ordinary chisels, Ashley Iles registered firmer chisels are designed from the outset to take a real pounding. The strength and resilience of our native Ash makes it an ideal material for the handles, further reinforced by the addition of two thick steel hoops. The blades are forged from O1 carbon tool steel, hand ground and hardened to RC59-61.
For chopping work (with the chisel perpendicular to the surface) we recommend honing a secondary bevel at around 35 degrees. Like all Ashley Iles chisels, the backs are carefully prepared so that they are very easy to maintain.
Aimed at professionals in the Boatbuilding, Timber Framing and Carpentry industries, the smaller sized Registered Firmers may also appeal to furniture makers for squaring and cleaning up drilled mortices.
For those who were wondering, the term "registered" refers to any chisel where the sides are at 90 degrees to the back, "firmer" refers to a chisel designed for rough work that will stand up to being hit with either a hammer or a heavy mallet. The majority of chisels sold as 'bevel edged' these days are actually bevelled firmer chisels. Ashley Iles are one of very few manufacturers in the world still making proper bevel edged cabinetmakers chisels and even fewer still making full fat, beat the daylights out of 'em, heavy duty registered pattern firmers.
Ashley Iles Marking Knives
These beautiful marking knives from Ashley Iles are hand forged from carbon steel, so they take a sensational edge.
Ashley Iles Peter Benson Carving Tools
Crisply executed details can literally transform a carving, adding sharpness and definition, refining textures like fur and hair, and picking out fine features that reward even the closest inspection.
Designed by Peter Benson, Chairman of the British Woodcarvers Association, this range of beautiful carving tools open up a whole new world of possibilities. Made by Ashley Iles, they are forged, ground and hardened to exactly the same standards as the larger tools and are an absolute delight to use.
Similar in size and shape to a pen, they can be held between thumb and forefinger and used with remarkable accuracy or gripped like a conventional tool. The long slender handle and blade enables them to reach into the tightest spots and leave a cleanly tooled finish. Their compact dimensions also mean that you can roll a dozen of them up in a tool roll, pop them in your pocket with a lump of boxwood, and take your hobby with you wherever you go.
"The Peter Benson Detail Selection really is remarkable and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these for fine, detailed work."
Michelle Robertson, Editor, Woodcarving Magazine, Issue 108 p57
Ashley Iles Carving Chisels and Gouges
Ashley Iles are the only remaining British edge tool manufacturer to produce the entire Sheffield List of woodcarving chisels; every Ashley Iles carving tool is beautifully hand forged and ground from high carbon Sheffield steel. Traditional Hand forging compacts and refines the structure of the steel. This, combined with very accurate heat treatment produces a carving tool that will take the finest, strongest, sharpest edge possible.
Ashley Iles and his son Ray were trained in the individual trades of toolmaking (forging, grinding, handle making, etc.) by the little mesters of Sheffield in the 1950's, secrets that had been jealously guarded for generations were freely passed on to prevent them from being lost forever. The family and the business moved to Lincolnshire where they have perpetuated toolmaking in the old tradition ever since. The grinding is all done freehand on enormous water cooled wheels, no jigs or fixtures, just decades of skill and experience.
We carry a selection of the more commonly used carving tools available off the peg, but if you want anything not listed here just give us a call.
Ashley Iles Pole Lathe Turning Tools
Bodger's woodturning tools differ from power lathe woodturning tools in several respects.
At the low speeds of pole lathe turning the forces and 'wood miles' involved are greatly reduced, so sharpness is a higher priority than wear resistance. For this reason bodgers prefer their woodturning tools to be forged from carbon steel rather than HSS.
The grinding angles are also generally lower, again sacrificing a little edge retention in pursuit of maximum sharpness and the tools are kept carefully honed.
We strongly recommend that pole lathe turning tools should not be used on a powered lathe, if you want carbon steel tools for power lathes (skews in particular work beautifully in carbon) please give us a call.