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I'm starting out in woodworking at the tender age of 51. It's something I've always wanted to do but never had the space. My main interest is in building stringed musical instruments but I'm also keen to build furniture in the future. I'm at the stage of buying some basic tools and doing a lot of reading. I've ordered a very old Stanley #3 plane (ideal for the small instruments I want to build), a sharpening jig and I'm currently looking at a basic chisel set. From my research, I've decided to buy a small set of chisels between 1/4" and an inch in width. I live in Brazil where the costs of quality tools are high. Here, a fair price for Sheffield steel makes such as Footprint or Marpel with plastic handles is a little under R$100 per tool (US$28). Very high for you in the States or the UK but that's the reality here. To import via Ebay is much more expensive beecause of astronomical taxes.
Industrially-made Brazilian made tools have a pretty bad rap generally here, but I'd thought I'd investigate hand made tools. The south of the country is well known for knife makers. I contacted a maker who forges knives and tools in 5160 steel and other metals. He does some nice work. He can produce brute forged chisels (5160) with ground bevels and wooden handles (brazilian rosewood, various choices) for R$150 per tool. He said they have a hardness rating of 58 to 60 HRC. He can also copy whatever design I want.
I wonder if you think the added expense would be worth it? I'm prepared to pay a little more if the quality is good. How would it compare to the Sheffield models?
I've ordered a whittling knife from him which I plan to use to shape instrument necks. This will help me assess the quality.
Here is a link to the maker's site: http://facascavaledo.blogspot.com.br/
The first grey panel has links to various examples ranging from rustic to finer work with Damascus steel.
It'd be interesting to hear your thoughts.
All the best!