I ordered a new Stanley Sweetheart Socket 750 1 1/4″ to replace my Vintage Marples 1 1/4″. I took my Lie Nielsen 3/4″ as it’s the largest LN chisel I have and did a side-by-side comparison.
You can see that the SW is considerably longer, which took me by surprise as I thought LN tools were replica’s of Stanley’s earlier tools pre 1940s. The LN chisel below resembles a Japanese chisel in terms of a short blade and longer body. They’re both sockets, which can be a plus or minus depending on the user. The handles are both turned from hornbeam, which makes them super strong for mallet blows. The etching on the SW is laser printed while the LN is laser etched. Refer to the pictures as to what I am referring to.
I think it’s a nicer look being laser etched than printed. It demonstrates quality but more so they care about the products they make and even though both are mass produced, probably not on the same scale, the Lie Nielsen etching sends a clear message that it’s made with pride.
The steel on the SW has a slightly rougher finish compared to the LN. The steels however are different. They make the SW from a high carbon with Alloy mixed while the LN comes in only one flavour my most hated A2. They used to give you an option between A2 or O1, but I didn’t know any better in those days and fell for the advertising bullshit of A2 being a better quality steel that’s easy to sharpen and stays sharper longer. I have an antique wooden jack with an O1 iron in it and an LN 5 1/2 with an A2 iron, and I use them both to prep boards. They both go blunt from equal usage at the same time. The only steel I’ve found that sharpens as good as an O1 and stays sharper longer is the PMV11.
Both these pics above show the back of the Stanley SW. Compared to the blades in the hardware stores, these are pretty much flat. The first pic shows after two strokes on a 1000grit waterstone. The pic below is a mirror finish, but the camera didn’t do an outstanding job in displaying it, or maybe it’s my poor camera skills. The LN chisel truly comes flat, you can jump to a 4000 grit stone and finish on an 8000 grit and you will get and even mirror polish the entire length of the blade if you wanted to.
The bevel were ground at 30° out of the box. As this is a utility chisel that is used for light chopping and paring, 30° is the right angle of choice. Chisels that are designed for paring only 20° or preferably less is the way to go. I could if I wanted to set my bevel angle to 18° and it would slice through the end grain like butter and I may end up doing just that, or not, I don’t know, I’m just too God damn lazy. Let’s move on.
“Thin blade design” which makes it thinner than the LN version which also makes a zero difference between them in terms of chopping and paring. I have chopped some Australian tough woods with my LN 3/4″ and ruined the edge because the wood was so tough. Would the Stanley SW bend under the blow of the mallet on the same timber? I think it’s highly unlikely, but the edge would suffer the same as the LN did. Being thinner could be an advantage to dovetailing. It seems to be lighter than my LN and if you have a lot of dovetails to chop, it’s heaven sent.
I forgot to mention that the steel is made in England and I’m guessing Sheffield but don’t quote me. The handle most probably from China.
I gave it a coat of Renaissance wax like I do to all my tools to keep the rust off it. It’s amazing how well this stuff works. I have in the past used a spray made by Boeing to help keep the rust off their engine parts, but I quickly learned that all that it is, is just BLO and while it does its job better than this wax; it leaves a film that’s disgusting to look at and to touch and needs to be taken off before using the tool to stop the friction it will create. The wax isn’t cheap, but neither is this craft so do yourself a favour and give it a go.
This wasn’t meant to be an in depth review because I don’t want to market anyone’s product for them. Christopher Schwarz did a review some years ago when he worked for popular woodworking and I will provide a link here for you to read. I’m sure there are more in depth reviews by Chris on these chisels else where. If you know where can you let me know.
In terms of value, I think it’s great. They’re not expensive compared to LN. I bought this locally, so this is in Australian dollars. I paid $58.50 plus $13 shipping compared to a Lie Nielsen from memory; it was AUD $ 227.00 for the 1 1/2″. How can one justify that expense? This was an unbiased review for whatever it’s worth, not in favour to any one company. As Richard Maguire said “I say it as I see it.”