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Veritas and Lie-Nielsen Chisels Compared

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I posted this in the Neander forum as a response to someone asking for chisel purchasing advise, and was asked by another member to post it here. It is sorta a "double post" since its copied and pasted nearly verbatum, but hopefully it will be beneficial to some folks.

Veritas vs. Lie-Nielsen Chisels

I love both the LN (friend owns them) and the Veritas (I own them). They are absolute equals in quality and both are very balanced and comfortable. It comes down to personal preference, but here are my thoughts and some things to consider.

Balance: Both are very balanced and surprisingly light. I prefer the balance on the LV every so slightly, but that's probably because that's what I'm used to. Very personal and unless you use them side by side you'll never know the difference. I will however, say that the weight and balance on the LVs is really something to behold. They look (and are) incredibly substantive, but when you hold them it feels like your holding something much smaller. They look and can act as a heavy duty chisel, but in hand they feel like a detail/finesse tool. That's not to say that's the LNs don't share that trait, they too are substantive yet light and balanced, I was just a little bit more struck by this in the LVs.

Handles: I prefer the combined socket/tang design of the LVs. Yes there are some advantages to a true socket chisel, but personally, I drop enough stuff as it is, and wouldn't want to worry about the handles falling out (yes I realize there are fixes for that). As for shape, the LN handle has a nice bulb and consistent taper, so it sorta just feels good no matter how you hold it, and overall I think I like its shape a little more than the LV's - but really its a tough call for me. The LV has a bit more of an deliberately ergonomic design and there's more of a feeling of a right way to hold it (if that makes sense). Its quite comfortable actually, and gives you a lot of control and power when paring, but I think anytime you have something that is more shapely and ergonomic there is going to be a certain portion of the population who the shape just doesn't fit. I'll admit that it took me a few uses to get used to the LV handle shape where as I like the LN handle right away - that said, once I used to the LV handle I really came to love it.

Steel: LN gives you the option of A2 or O1. If you absolutely want A2 that kinda settles it. Personally for chisels, I prefer 01, since it allows more flexibility with the bevel angle. A2 really is best at 30 degrees or above. Also, my understanding is that the extra "strength" of A2 is more about wear resistance than shock resistance, and thus it is more beneficial in plane blades than chisels. I can tell you that the LV O1 chisels take and hold and edge as good as any I've ever used at 27 degrees or above. They probably hold an edge at lower than that too, but 27 degrees is the lowest any of mine are honed at so I can't speak to how the edge holds at a lower angle. I can also tell you that the LN A2 chisel take and hold and incredible edge at 30 degrees or above - I cannot speak to how well they will hold an edge below that.

One final consideration is that LN makes a 1/8" and its part of their 5 piece set (1/8 - 3/4), LV's is 1/4" - 1" and they do not yet make a 1/8".

So there you go - tough choice. The biggest difference is probably the handle type/shape, especially if you are comparing 01 to 01. So I guess if you are trying to decided between the LN or LV think about which handle type and shape appeals to you more.

I can't say overall which one I'd buy if I were buying because I have a bias towards my own. You'll probably be very happy with either brand for your entire woodworking life.

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