Stanley Sweetheart 750 Chisels - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

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Stanley Sweetheart 750 Chisels



Stanley has reintroduced its “Sweetheart” bevel-edge bench chisels, more than 40 years after discontinuing the line. These tools have always commanded premium prices on the used-tool market because they were well designed and well made. The new version does not disappoint.

Socket-handled chisels are prone to having the handles loosen, especially during the dry winter months. A couple of the handles were loose when the chisels arrived so I took advantage of this to knock them all out, give their tapers a buff with 80-grit paper, and then re-install them with a sharp hammer knock.

Meanwhile, the blades went for a soak in lacquer thinner, making it easy to remove their lacquer coating.

It took me about 25 minutes to lap the backs of all eight chisels using a 1200-grit diamond bench stone, followed by touch-ups on 4000- and 8000- grit waterstones. The bevels were all ground flat and square to a precise 30˚ – a good compromise for a chisel expected to do everything – so putting a polish and then a micro-bevel on them took only a couple of minutes per chisel.

With grunt work done, I gave them a go. I liked their feel. Their length is nice for paring work and the hornbeam handles are very comfortable in the palm (without the nasty little nibs of dried lacquer that grace inferior tools). They’re not for mortising except for paring mortise walls, but for dovetailing they’re a treat.

Dovetailing isn’t a brutal operation; you don’t need a death grip on the tool. The size and weight of these chisels allows you to hold them more as you would a pencil, which is good for precision. But what happens when the cutting edge meets the maple?

It met the oak, actually – one of the nastiest chunks of case-hardened wood I’ve ever encountered. I cut a few dovetails and the chisels were a treat. They had a nice feel – almost delicate – but still handled mallet blows just fine. To get a better idea of their edge retention, I took a piece of the oak and drove the ¼", ⅜" and ½" chisels into it as if I were aggressively chopping out waste. Each cut drove the chisels about ⅜" deep.

After 150 cuts into the oak, there was no discernable edge degradation. After another 150 chops, one tiny spot on the ⅜" chisel’s edge had crumpled, but not even enough to notice when paring. One hundred and fifty more cuts failed to crumple the edge further. Neither the ¼" nor the ½" showed any edge deformation after this treatment. After a couple of minutes to resharpen, I repeated the test using maple, with no appreciable difference in the performance.

Would I buy these tools? They’re the first chisels (Japanese tools excluded) that have really tempted me since I bought my Marples more than 20 years ago. They feel good in the hand, they’re well made, nicely finished and appear to offer great value. There just might be a set showing up in my shop soon.