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Woodworking with P. Michael Henderson


Evaluation of a Lee Valley PM-V11 Chisel

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I expressed interest in the new Lee Valley PM-V11 chisels on the Saw Mill Creek forum because I teach hand cut dovetails and am constantly looking for better chisels for chopping them out (ones that will hold an edge longer). 

Rob Lee saw my post and contacted me to offer an evaluation chisel, with the request that I provide feedback on the performance of the chisel.  I accepted, and Rob sent me a pre-production PM-V11 3/8" chisel.

I evaluated that chisel and found that it performed only slightly better than an A2 chisel.  I wrote up my evaluation on a web page and sent the link to Rob. 

Rob subsequently contacted me to tell me that my experience was very different from what LV was experiencing in their lab.  He expressed concern that the pre-production chisel they sent me had not been properly hardened.  He explained that they had a bunch of chisels which were being used for packaging evaluation and other things, and those chisels had not been heat treated.

Perhaps I had been sent one of those. He then sent me another PM-V11 3/8" chisel and a LV carbon steel 3/8" chisel.  I performed the same testing with those new chisels, and the results of that second testing are presented here.

This article is about tests performed 7/25/2012, 7/26/2012, 8/19/2012 with the pre-production chisel and on 9/8/2012 and 9/9/2012 with the production chisels.

Some of the pictures in the evaluation below are of the initial pre-production chisel, but the production chisels are exactly the same, except for the heat treatment.

My evaluation focuses only on the the performance of the chisel in chopping out wood, such as for dovetails. Please keep this in mind when reading this evaluation.

Your needs may be different and you should evaluate various chisels to see how they meet your specific needs.

The chisels I received were packed in a plastic package as shown here.

The ends of the chisels appear to have been dipped in a plastic product to protect the edge. The chisel is not coated with lacquer or any other preservative (which is good).

I checked the width and it's exactly 3/8".  The chisel is 7/64" thick on the cutting end.

The blade tapers in thickness to 3/16" near the handle.

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