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At the end of January Narex, the renowned Czech hand tool maker, sent me a box which contained three chisels for review. The sturdy but old-fashioned gray cardboard box sewn together with staples contained three elegant jet black capsules that contained the new line of Richter bench chisels. It took me a few months and now I’m finally able to release my review on this chisel compared to the chisel with Sweetheart 750 STANLEY binding.
Unpack the new Narex Richter chisels:
A year before the Narex box arrived, I learned that the company intended to release a special line of high-quality bench chisels to celebrate their centenary. Incorporating the Cryogenic heat treatment process these chisels were intended to have a higher quality of hardening which would make them with an exceptionally hard and long lasting edge. They had to have a new and comfortable grip design that included a stainless steel ferrule and a leather cushioning washer above the cushion. And finally, the factory promised to push the production envelope further to ensure that the trapezoidal geometry of the blade cross section will be uniform and crisp, and therefore will allow it to slide smoothly into tight dovetail corners.
In full disclosure: I have a friendly relationship with Filip Stanek, who has become the driving force behind Narex’s success over the past fifteen years. So when I heard that the new Richter line was finally out, I emailed him and he sent me three chisels in return for review. The ones I got were ¼ ’, ⅜” and I “, of which I decided to review the ¾” – as I believe it is one of the most versatile chisel sizes for which we reach daily.
At an average price of $ 35 dollars, the Richter ranks at half the price, on par with the new chisel with socket Stanley 750 and Two Cherries of German production. It’s cheaper than the standard Narex bench chisel or other mass-produced department store chisels, yet it costs $ 20 less than the acclaimed American product Nielsen chisel lie.
The feel, appearance and finish of the chisel are impressive. The metal is mirror polished, the back is flat and the edges of the side bevels (along the length of the blade) are minimized. This feature that I mentioned earlier is essential to allow the chisel to excel in tight corners. While Narex managed to make the corners of the blade base very narrow, it also kept them away from being frighteningly sharp. This is important, as you don’t want to risk cutting your hand while grabbing the blade or guiding it while dividing the wood.
Here are some pictures of the Stanley 750 chisel which is the main competitor of the Narex-Richter:
Side by side comparison between Richter and Stanley:
Narex produces a series of chisels, some of them have blades with chamfered edges “on the wall” (see photo below), while more advanced designs, such as the one sold by Lee Valley they are milled to incorporate a bevel that culminates in a very narrow edge. In the Richter chisel line, Narex went even further and minimized the corners of the beveled edge, but moved slightly away from the edges that were too sharp to hold and handle them.
With all due respect for the superb geometry, the choice of material and the attractive aesthetics and the comfort of both the handle and the blade, the proof of this Czech pudding will be in the cutting performance and in the retention qualities of the edges of the blade.
Next time I will show how I refined both the Richter chisel and its competitor Stanley and prepared them for their edge to edge tournament.
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