This section has been my on my mind for a long time, because I have collected and restored MARPLES chisels (gouges) for so many years. It is also a very difficult subject to address, since there were so many chisels/gouges produced by MARPLES, but all had very slight differences (handles).  To list ALL of these chisels may be difficult, so stick with this site as nobody else is able or even willing to try to do this!!  As I have said all along, this site is where you should look for those elusive details as to all MARPLES woodwork tools.  [and some other non Woodwork Tools as well!]

The first question on your mind is…..’When did MARPLES start making Chisels/Gouges ‘ ?
And this started my catalogue research, so I hope that you will join me and enjoy the path that we can briefly explore in this field, since these tools shaped Great Britain 1840-1900?  [and even beyond these parameters]

Very early chisels, like any older tools, are so extremely rare to find, let alone to own and photograph.  At least we know that chisels marked HIBERNIA [the word of which was used before being patented in 1875]  and with the Trefoil are from 1875 onwards.  But to find no marks, or at least to find the marks HIBERNIA and with a single Shamrock is very hard to date.[Possibly pre-1875?]
The earliest ‘catalogue’ [more a double sided product issue/broadsheet] of c.1846 makes no mention of any chisels/Gouges being for sale (see the catalogue section), but recent information indicates that MARPLES started to have these very important basic tools for the ‘Woodworking trade’ made for them around 1860 when it was considered a viable financial proposition.
Remember, William was not a man to take risks on a venture that could not be profitable because by all accounts he was an astute businessman and at this time he would have been competing against the likes of James CAM and other fine edge tool makers who were by then well established in these lines.

The 1862 catalogue [2 pages shown below] does indeed show and list Cast Steel Firmer Chisels [not made on site], but not bevelled edged chisels [see later].  At this time they were sold ranging from 1/16″ to 3″ wide, and were also offered ‘handled’. [although the shape of handle is not specified]    Ditto here for the Gouges(<2.5″).  Strong Firmer Chisels and Gouges are shown, as well as ‘Sets of chisels and gouges’.  CAST STEEL Coach Makers Chisels and long thin Paring chisels are shown as well as CAST STEEL Millright’s Chisels and Gouges. From that time onwards the list offered of chisels gets ever larger and more complex.

The 1873 [below] catalogue lists ‘Bevelled Edge’ chisels both in Firmer and Paring style but again with the option of being supplied handled or not.  But there are still no details as to what shape/style of handle could be supplied.  I can therefore conclude that the move to a ‘Bevelled Edge ‘ manufactured chisel started around 1870, but this is a hard date to positively establish.
Prior to this time you may well find many firmer chisels that have been owner modified by grinding a small ‘bevel’ back from each side of the cutting edge. It is probably that these workmen may have suggested to the manufacturers that ‘Bevelled Edge chisels’ may be good practical items to produce.

The next text which I have available is the 1897 catalogue, and here are shown about 10 pages of bench chisels and gouges that could be supplied with/without Round Ash / Beech / Boxwood Handles; Boxwood Carving Pattern Handles; London Pattern Octagon Boxwood Handles or Taper Handles.   Taper Octagon Boxwood Handles (see below [7555]  were only offered for a short period of time). There are simply just too many varieties and combinations of chisels and gouges to show them all here.

Below, is a page from the 1903 Catalogue which shows the choice of chisel handles that were available at that time.  The Common Octagon Chisel Handle in Boxwood [7540] is a new addition, but again only lasted for a few years. Please study this picture well, as many are never seen today and they may have existed for only a brief period in time. Obviously this would have been due to either the design being uncomfortable to use or maybe just too expensive to produce and therefore to buy.  The chisel handle styles I cannot find readily today are:  7536 – Plain Octagon, Hooped;  7540-Common Octagon; 7555– Taper |Octagon; 7515 Taper Round; 7530– Kensington Pattern and 7535– Plain Octagon Chisel Handle.
Personally, I have never seen the 7530Kensington Pattern Chisel Handle but it looks to be a very comfortable handle.

By 1909 there are 21 pages devoted to chisels and gouges.  Page 8 shows the styles of handles then available and curiously lists a blade that I have never seen..#330Round Back Cabinet Firmer Chisel.and therefore it must have been very short lived.  Naturally these chisels and gouges were also available in ‘Paring‘ style and also available as a cranked variety of ‘Paring‘. The shear volume of different tools, each engineered for different trades, is utterly overwhelming and you can only really grasp this fact by looking through the actual catalogues. What I can present here is but a very thin slice of pertinent information.

By 1928 there are 16 pages, but they are now organised to be more easily read and understood.  Mostly everything seems to have been available either handled [with many different types of wood handles.] or without handles.
There are:
Firmer Chisels; Bevel Edge Firmer Chisels; Strong Firmer Chisels; Firmer Gouges; Firmer Gouges In-Cannel; Sash or Scribing Gouges; Long Thin Paring Chisels; Bevel Edge Long Thin Paring Chisels; Long Thin Paring Gouges; Round Neck Registered Chisels; Round Neck Registered Gouges; Millwrights’ Chisels; Coachmakers’ Chisels; Coachmakers’ Bevel-Edge Chisels; Wagon Builders’ Chisels; Mortise Chisels; Sash Mortise Chisels; Lock Mortise Chisels; Machine Mortise Chisels; Socket Chisels; Socket Gouges; Solid-Steel-Blade Socket Chisels; Bright Socket Firmer Chisels; Strong Socket Firmer Chisels; Bright Socket Firmer Gouges; Wheelers’ Bruzzes; Butt Chisels; Sash Pocket Chisels; Roller Coverers’ Chisels; Floor Cutting Chisels and Drawer Lock Chisels.
Only the 1928 first 2 pages of Common Chisels and Gouges are shown below:

The 1938 Catalogue [below] shows 15 pages devoted to chisels and gouges. There are some additions to the line and some deletions [too numerous to mention here] but in essence the listings follow the 1928 catalogue, only with some price increases. The only ‘Round’ neck chisels and gouges are the ‘Registered’ pattern Mortice, the London Pattern Sash Mortise Chisels and the Tanged Butt Chisels.  All the rest, except for the Socket style, are ‘Square’ necked. All the handles are made of either Ash, Beech or Boxwood with no Plastic yet in evidence.  This situation was in effect until at least the March 1940 pocket catalogue.

The next catalogue that I have [below] is just post-war 1954 and this shows that a ‘Splitproof’ Amber Plastic handle had been introduced, and was also offered on the Round neck B/E Butt chisel. [This handle was all Amber, not the later Red/Orange.]  At this age you will see that the ‘Round’ neck B/E chisel has arrived, but the ‘Square’ neck Firmer chisel is still available…if we can believe the Cat. images to be correct. Yet, in the same cat. there is shown a Chisel Display Stand that depicts B/E Firmer chisels with Square necks!
I therefore suggest that the Round Neck Chisel/Gouge was probably the only variety produced after c.1952/3 and that the Square neck [Drop Hammer forged?] had been replaced by the Drop Forged Round Neck because of lower production costs. [But see later for a MARPLES contradiction]

Below you will see the amended page, dated March 1957, showing all Round Neck chisels.  {Compared with the square necked chisels of pre 1953 }

Here [below] is the ‘Continental’ pattern wood handle [#326] that had been introduced into the line. [1954] along with the shorter Butt ‘Continental’ [#336] They were described as having a ‘Narrow Bevel’.

But in the 10/79 E3 Catalogue [below] they are no longer called ‘Continental’, just ‘Hooped Beechwood’ and are now numbered #M371    So #326 turned into #371?   Very Confusing!.

By 1954 the ‘Round’ [Amber] Splitproof handled B/E Butt chisels [#876] had made an entrance although the page below is dated Sept 1958.

Also shown is the Red/Yellow Oval “Splitproof Handle” chisels in sets of 5 Firmer [#313] and 5 B/E Firmer [#373]

Below is a set of Splitproof Butt chisels, Item #876 with Round handles. Item #876 endured 1954-1958 and then the Item # was changed to #386 in 1959 and these were themselves eventually discontinued in 1969. The chisels below may be from c.1958.  These chisels should not be confused with the heavier more robust OVAL handled #373    The box that they came in is also shown below.

But here below is a picture from the 1959 MARPLES Catalogue, showing a different handle marking on the #876. It was probably an older picture but still used in 1959. The other image here is of 3 of those chisels to show the mark better. The older #876 had a Red colour to the plastic close to the blade.

Below is the illustration of Item#386 in the 1959 Cat. and these chisels had an all amber plastic handle.

It would appear that the Splitproof Butt chisels with round handles came in 4 different coats…earliest to latest.
a]  A Diamond shape impression on an amber handle with a red neck
b] A white Oval applied coating to an amber handle with red neck
c] A MARPLES impression mark on an amber handle with a red neck
d] A MARPLES impression mark on an amber handle with no red neck.

Below is a great set of M371/S4.  Late 1970s?

In the March 1957 Pocket Cat. these 2 adverts [below] appear advising that MARPLES chisels are good to the last inch as they have been “Hardened and Tempered from edge to trademark.”  And this was also advertized on the chisel boxes of that era.

In the 1959 Cat. there are advertised sets of chisels contained in ‘ colourful’ P.V.C Wallets:

The picture below shows set 377/W5 but the handles have an impression later than that shown in the Catalogue.  I am unsure as to how long these plastic wallets were available, but a guestimate is 1956-1965?

The following is taken from a September 1961 catalogue issued by MARPLES for USA consumption.  So, up to this date MARPLES were stating that ALL gouges and chisels are ‘hand-forged.'[see below]
BUT hand-forged can include the handling of red hot steel into a drop hammer, as opposed to the automatic systems employed later, [wherein no ‘hand’ is actually employed].  ‘Hand-Forged’ could then be legally used, but it is stretching the use of the English Language somewhat!
I also note that ‘Good to the last inch’ or ‘edge to trademark’ has been sacrificed for a larger description that the ‘entire length of the tool can be honed’.    

At this time (9/61) the Paring Gouges and Paring Chisels are shown as having Square necks. [Could these have been old ‘cuts’?]

In 1968 the ‘BLUE CHIP‘ handled B/E Firmer chisels #444 and gouges had been introduced, followed in 1971 by the #333 Blue Chip Firmer chisel. It is shown here that  ‘In co-operation with the European Tool Committee, Marples Wood Chisels are marked in inches and millimetres’.
Metrication‘ was introduced across many walks of life in Britain on 15 Feb 1971,  and the image below is from 1971.

The Oval ‘Splitproof’ Handles [#373] were in full swing as well as the smaller Harlequin Handled B/E chisel [#388] as found here [below], which was introduced in 1968.

Below is a photo of some HARLEQUIN chisels #388  [shown are 2 x 1/2″ sizes with different coloured handles, which proves that the handle colour did not indicate chisel width.]   But I can confirm now that Harlequins were always provided with Orange coloured edge keepers.

And below [and above advert] you will see a Mint example of ‘Compact’ chisel #382 which was introduced at the same time as the ‘Harlequin’ [9/68]. This chisel may be much more rare than the ‘Harlequin’ because it had a wooden handle and as these chisels were low cost and aimed at the Amateur market, they would have been prone to the abuse afforded such items, [housed in a damp shed at the bottom of the UK garden, used to open paint cans and used as a substitute screwdriver! etc.] and therefore to find one in mint condition [below] is rare. And add to that the fact that they were only offered 1968-69.

A beautiful set [below] of 6 B/E Oval Split-proof Handled chisels. 373/S6

The photo above is from the RECORD RIDGWAY MARPLES Woodcrafting Tools Catalogue dated October 1979.

Above is the introduction page of the 1993 Wm. Marples Chisels/Gouges catalogue.

Below here is a set of Leather tipped B/E firmer chisels in a plastic pouch that I seem not to be able to yet identify!   They must be from the 1970s<? and had applied sticky MARPLES labels on the handles, all of which are now missing .

What follows is the table form of the chisels and gouges that MARPLES made, starting with the 1909 Catalogue and progressing as far as 1998.     The catalogue dates are across the top.  There are some assumptions that I have had to make, the most important being that should an item appear in [for e.g.] the 1928 catalogue and in the 1938 catalogue, but nowhere in between [in the pocket catalogues], I have concluded that the item was indeed available in between but did not appear in the Pocket Catalogues due to space limitations and popularity of the item.


 A Gallery of some of the more common MARPLES chisels that can be found today:

Round Ash Firmer [#310] 1909-1994 or B/E Firmer [#370] 1909-1986.
This chisel endured as the backbone of MARPLES chisel production and was probably around prior to 1909. You will find them from good quality early chisels to the later less exciting offerings…see below.
Some chisels you may find have a steel ferrule [see example below] and these may come from the latter parts of WWII.  I have ONE example that is fitted with an Aluminium ferrule.   [And that is the way that it is spelt in Britain!]

Photos above are of #310 Firmer Chisels, but are of very different years and quality. All are Ash handled.

The 2 photos below are of #370 Ash handled B/E chisels from around 1986, showing short non-brass ferrules, tapered necks and the same size handles throughout the range.

The #370 Chisels shown below are higher quality and obviously from an earlier time:

Carver Boxwood Firmer [#317] 1909-1994 or B/E Firmer [#377] 1909-1998
Found quite often today on a famous Auction site, these chisels can be had once again in various quality states according to the year of production.
The very best were the square necked chisel, probably <1952.  These would have had a small round MARPLES water transfer applied close down to the brass ferrule. But around this time we can find these square necked chisels having a ‘Green Shamrock‘ transfer [See the section on Marks] similar to the red ones shown below.  I have found this Green transfer on both these ‘Square neck’ and ‘Round neck’ chisels.  To me this indicates a date c.1952/3 since I have deduced that the Round neck chisels phased out Square neck around that time.   Below is a fine set showing a Round neck and a ‘Red’ Shamrock transfer in the middle of the handle.

Below you will see the degradation that this fine chisel suffered over time, showing  here disgusting ferrules, ‘tapered’ necks, all the same sized handles and no Makers mark on the blade]

The tapered neck appeared on these chisels around 1985.

Below here is a photo of some late [c.1995] B/E Boxwood handled [#377] chisels. Note the short brass ferrules, a white plastic ‘washer’ and the same size handle for each chisel.

BUT… you may find [ shown below] some MARPLES  Boxwood Carver handled B/E chisels with a full brass ferrule  [i.e. before they truncated the ferrule to a brass plated steel..c.1990?] which literally have no MARPLES identification on either the handle or the blade.  See below.  Presently I cannot explain why this should have occurred.  Definitely MARPLES.

The above chisels also show a change in blade design in that previously the bevelled edges were of equal size along the length of the blade, whereas at some time [to be determined c.1980?] the design changed to give a splayed  look to the central portion.  I have seen this on chisels with a SEOVAL Boxwood Carver style handle and etched blade; on a SEOVAL handle with no blade marking and on chisels [as above] with no markings at all.  Below is a comparison of the 2 designs…

This design was carried through to other styles at different times and may have been used only on the larger sizes of chisels.  For instance I have catalogue pictures showing Blue Chip chisels as having this played out design around 1971!  It is presently not possible to collate and report on when all these chisels started to have this new blade design, the information simply is not available.

Also noted is the fact that these ‘splayed out’ [and maybe others] design of #377 chisels can be found with 2 different electro-etched marks. The earlier mark has the word ‘Sheffield‘ and also is a narrower necked chisel displaying  a finer designed shoulder [top in pictures]:

At the moment I do not know whether these different etchings occurred in other chisels.

Ash Carver Handled Firmer chisel #M111

This style of chisel was introduced in 1986 [Marples/Ridgway MR111] and was available 1986-7 in these sizes: 1/4″; 3/8″; 1/2″; 5/8″; 3/4″; 1″; 1.1/4″. It was dropped from the line in 1988-90 and was available again 1991-4 as M111 but only as 1/4″; 1/2″; 3/4″; 1″. See 1986 excerpt below:

The M 111/S4 set below shows a short brass coloured pressed steel ferrule and same sized handles for each chisel c.1994.

Blue Ribbon #M555 Blue Handle B/E Firmer chisel

This was introduced in as an Amateur household chisel and therefore less expensive chisel in c.1986 and until 1991.  Only produced as 1/4″; 1/2″; 3/4″ and 1″. Also called ‘Hobby 1’.  Available individually or as a boxed Set.
M555 was changed to a Green Polypropylene handle in Mid 1991.

‘Blue Chip’ Polypropylene handled  Firmer [#333] 1971-1998 or B/E Firmer [#444] 1968-2006+
​A much abused chisel because of the bad advertising that propelled this item to fame. [In essence, it is OK to whack it with a hammer!]
This is why you will find them usually very soiled and scuffed due to the fact that this ideology appealed to the ‘whack it and get the job done’ tradesman, who would then consign the poor creature to its’ storage space with an errant toss.
Of note here is that the 1/8″ B/E #M444 was introduced into the line in September 1978

They always had a ‘tapered’ neck and are now still manufactured by Irwin-Marples but you must be careful to only purchase those made in Sheffield, and this is hit or miss. The very first Irwin-Marples still had ‘MADE IN SHEFFIELD‘ electro etched onto the top of the blade. and the B/E were still produced in Sheffield until 2008.   Very soon after that, the whole system was transferred either to Italy or more probably CHINA.


The earlier chisels made by MARPLES have the electro-etching shown below on the blade and the SEOVAL  {semi-oval} MARPLES mark in the handle.

Chisels made by RECORD RIDGWAY TOOLS LTD. looked like this below and  with Blue Edge protectors.

Initially chisels made by Record-Marples Woodworking Tools Ltd had SHEFFIELD ENGLAND etched on the blade and the seoval MARPLES Mark on the handle.  Or may have the Oval MARPLES on the handle with SHEFFIELD ENGLAND etched on the blade. Grey chisel end protectors.   All as shown below.

But of course I have now bought a Blue Chip chisel that has a handle marking that I can only try to slot into the dating order.  The blade marks are as shown immediately above except the mm. size is in line with the wording.    My example is too feint to photograph.
It also has a Grey plastic edge keeper. As you can see the mark on the handle  is a surface application, not pressed into the handle.

The Later Marples [Made by RECORD] Firmer and B/E Firmer chisels seem to have MADE IN SHEFFIELD ENGLAND or HAND FORGED SHEFFIELD ENGLAND etched on the blade, and the Oval ‘Marples’ emblem was on the handle and may also be etched on the blade,[Later]  (as seen below).

These Later chisels may also have the ‘Man in Safety Goggles‘ emblem impressed into the top of the handle.

A quite late example [below] c.2007 has an open toed black plastic edge keeper,  a silver surface applied MARPLES name on the handle and an impressed  ‘Man with Safety Goggles‘   at the top of the handle.        The font is exactly the same as the chisel above here.

Can you now see how utterly confusing these takeovers have on dating etc.?!
This chisel [below] has definitely an older style marking, but is contained in a later style plastic wallet.

It would appear {info from Mr.A.Niven} that the very last of the IRWIN-MARPLES Blue-Chip chisels that were produced in Sheffield [c.2008] looked like this:

And that the very first IRWIN-MARPLES Blue-Chip chisels that were produced [c.2009] in China looked like this:


Green Polypropylene handled Chisels and gouges:

The above B/E chisels were Item #555 and were introduced [along with the other Green handled chisels/gouges] in November 1991 and were made in sizes 1/4; 1/2; 3/4; 1; 1.1/4; and 1.1/2″. They were available individually and in sets of 4 or sets of 6 {M555/S6}.  But in 1996 the set of 6 was changed to then include 1/4; 3/8; 1/2; 3/4; 1; and 1.1/4″. All the chisels were still available individually, including the 1.1/2″ size, but the 3/8″ size remained only available in the set.  Today this may be the rarest of these chisels to locate. Therefore M555 was available November 1991 until 1998. I should be noted that up to Nov 1991 M555 had a blue handle and was called ‘Blue Ribbon’.  See above info on Blue Ribbon.
In 1998 they are Item M555 with a Green handle, but M555 has a Black handle in 1999.
The plain Firmer chisels #666  were only made in 1991 to 1994 as 1/4; 1/2; 3/4 and 1″
Gouge #415 was available until 1998 but as M415 in 1999. It was made as 1/4; 3/8; 1/2; 5/8; 3/4; and 1″.
Gouge #435 was available until 1998 but as M435 in 1999, and in the same sizes as the Outcannel.

‘Splitproof’ Firmer [313] 1954-1998 or B/E Firmer [373] 1954-2006+

This is the famous Red/Yellow plastic [Cellulose acetate butyrate] handled chisel that we all love to own, except that all points noted above on the ‘Blue-Chip‘ apply here.   Some of these offerings, that you may find on the internet, look like they have been rolled in a Cement mixer!  I believe that Irwin manufactured the B/E chisels in Sheffield after their takeover of RECORD in 1998 until at least 2008, and these were marked on the blade ‘MADE IN SHEFFIELD ENGLAND‘, but soon after, the manufacture was exported away to cheaper manufacturing countries. Be aware that the Irwin Marples Chinese offerings may have but a light electro-etching of their name on the blade which can be easily rubbed out to make the chisel appear like a real MARPLES.    [The handle is still simply marked MARPLES inside an Oval.]
Neither these or the Blue Chip chisels were intended to be ‘Fine Woodwork’ chisels. They are every day ‘user’ chisels intended for the Trades or home use because they have little ‘feel’ or balance.  The 1965 Catalogue indicates [below] that there were 4 different sized handles for these Splitproof chisels [numbered on the handles 1-4], but for how long this may have been in operation is not presently known.

You also can see below that with every change of ‘Ownership’ the packaging also had to be changed.  Most confusing!   By 1986  the ‘tapered’ neck had also been introduced into this line.

THE BEST [above photo] ….had the earlier round neck.                                                                                                                   Below are images of a beautiful set of #313 Firmer Chisels c.1968:

I have noted that the handle could have the following impressions in the plastic:
A) ‘Record Marples‘ on both sides and had Electro etched SHEFFIELD ENGLAND on the top of the blade, with a Tapered neck.
B) ‘MARPLES‘ on one side and the Oval Marples [‘WM. MARPLES & SONS‘ and SHEFFIELD. ENG with Trefoil’ ] on the reverse side showed a ‘Bahco Record Tools Ltd‘. [Tapered neck] or RECORD RIDGEWAY Tools Ltd. [round neck]                                                                                                                                                                        C) ‘Marples‘ on both sides indicates a tool made by Record Hand Tools  and Electro etched HAND FORGED SHEFFIELD ENGLAND on the top of the blade with a Tapered neck.[bottom photo]

The page  below (October 1979) shows the ‘tapered’ neck of the Blue Chip chisels as well as the Round Neck of the Splitproof chisels.
So basically if you have a MARPLES Splitproof handled chisel in your possession with a Round Neck, you have an original MARPLES tool, no questions asked.   These are the best of the Splitproof ever made.
As the Catalogue picture [see below] shows, the Hefty Oval handle allows a large striking surface

And this is what a Late Canadian M373 issue looked like:

This following item is rarely seen. It is an M373 set by Irwin-Marples c.2003 [Made in England] that is in a plastic box and with an Oilstone!
Item # M373/S5+OS

Below is shown one of the last ‘MADE IN SHEFFIELD ENGLANDM373 chisel sets. Made by IRWIN, it is housed in a garrish wooden box and the chisel tips are protected by open-toed black ribbed protectors.

The #373 Splitproof handled chisel was available in the UK 1954-2008.  This was a standard length B/E Firmer chisel.  However in 1962 a ‘Continental‘ Style B/E almost paring chisel was introduced as Item #327 and I believe was renumbered around 1964/5 to Item #323.  I had always thought that the ‘Continental’ style name was applied to chisels [such as #326] because of the pattern of Beech handle having a top steel thin hoop [see 1965 Catalogue picture]. Apparently this may not be so, as the Item #327 [later #323] was introduced and with an Oval “Splitproof” handle and still listed on page 10 of the 1965  Cat.  as ‘Continental’.  These longer chisels do not show up too often in the UK, as they were produced for ‘Export Only’ [WHY?] and may therefore be rare to find in UK , and I can find no listing in any of my catalogues of a ‘Splitproof’ handled Paring chisel.

Some ‘MODERN’ Chisels​… the ones that you will mostly find today.

After around 2008 Irwin Marples moved chisel production to China and produced chisels that look nice only.     

The set below with RED handles is named as M555R, [R for Red?] clearly made by RECORD MARPLES  but I have yet to find out when they were produced and then discontinued.  The #555 number was used for so many chisel types in the 80s and 90s , but this set with Grey plastic edge protectors is probably around 2001 or earlier, ​as these protectors were phased out around 2002 in favour of unmarked Black plastic guards and then unmarked Black plastic guards with an open-toe on the top surface.

The set above is numbered M500 S6 and was made by Record Marples probably c.2002.  Note the word ‘Record‘ in the flimsy plastic tray. [You will always find the tray cracked/split]. This set was boxed, as above and you can see that storage has produced a ‘bloom’ on the rubber handles.
They were also issued to the Tradesman as a ‘PROTOUCH‘ chisel having a polypropylene? scabbard to be attached to the belt:


Around 2006 the same chisels were issued with Steel Caps as Item#MS500 and were still marked as being made in Sheffield.  The M500 chisel was short lived as it does not appear in the 2006 IRWIN Marples catalogue, probably replaced by the Steel Capped variety.

This chisel [below] is marked Irwin-Marples and was produced outside of Sheffield around 2008<.   Look at and learn the blade markings​, they will never indicate ‘Made in Sheffield‘, because they were not.

The M500B [‘B‘ for Blue?] had Blue polypropylene handle inserts, whereas M500 chisels had Ivory polypropylene handle inserts] The ProTouch set shown [below] is marked MADE IN SHEFFIELD ENGLAND and came in widths up to 2″.  Another set [MS500B] is essentially the same but with a Steel cap on the handle. They both had Impact-Resistant polypropylene core handles. The edge protectors indicate this set was made around 2004,  as up to 2002 the protectors were of the fully enclosed variety as shown below on the 2″ MS500B and dated ‘2002‘.

This photo [below] is to show you that from at least 2008 MARPLES  chisels were made in CHINA. [“to MARPLES product specifications”]
This is the MS500B chisel which was indeed ‘Made in Sheffield’  [if so marked] until c.2008   ​Also see immediately above.

Made in China to Marples product specifications’ indicated on the left above.

Below are extracts from the IRWIN Tools 2006 Catalogue indicating Made in England:


Above are examples of M750, Splitproof Pro Bevel Edge Chisels with Soft Grip Handle. The name on the handles is ‘Marples‘  but the 2006 catalogue above shows the name as ‘IRWIN Marples‘, so these chisels may be c.2004

Below is a boxed set of Irwin Marples c.2010  MS750, a chisel that replaced the M750 because it had a steel cap.

Here below is where I will try to show as a variety of the unusual chisels that were offered by MARPLES over the years:

In the 1861/2 and 1873 Catalogues is listed [but not shown] a #115 Cast Steel Millrights’ chisel available 1/4″- 3″wide. [Although it is not numbered in 1861.]
But in the 1897 Catalogue it is available as # 115  1/8″-2.1/2″ wide and is then named ‘Cast Steel Registered Chisel‘ with ‘two Bright Iron Ferrules‘.   By the 1909 Catalogue the number has been changed to #600 and still showed the same sizes and each still having TWO steel ferrules, but the neck looks thicker.   It is not shown or listed in the 1921 Catalogue, having being discontinued in favour of other similar chisels,or the WW1, but this chisel was the only one having a short thick neck and a square Bolster. [Most other chisels had either a round Bolster or an 8 sided hand-forged Bolster.]

This image below is from the 1897 Catalogue.

This same slightly different image [neck looks thicker]  below is from the 1909 Catalogue.

The image below, is of a 2″ #115   c.1890.

The chisel below is a #133 Cast Steel Socket Mortice chisel c. 1873

In 1986 MARPLES decided that they would draw enthusiasts back to the fold by introducing a throwback chisel. This was the #777 Rosewood handled B/E chisel. [ 1/8″-1.1/2″]
Note the truncated brass ferrules, MARPLES would thereby have saved at least 5p each ferrule over installing a real good old length one!   They lasted until c. May 1991.

Above is from the Record Marples Price List of 1st. March 1986.


The above images are of the M777/S5.
An M777/S6 set was introduced in 1988 with the 1.1/4″ chisel included.

MARPLES Chisel Points to consider:

I have observed that the older chisels c.1900 tended to have longer brass ferrules than were later used and were more accurately fitted to the wood handle such that they did not require a punched indentation in the brass to hold the ferrule in place.
The older chisels did not indicate ENGLAND only that they were made in SHEFFIELD. which was deemed, at that time, to be quite adequate.  I believe that Legislation was introduced around 1900 that required that all tools manufactured or sold in the UK had to have the country of Origin impressed on the tool.

I have found that many later [after 1980?] boxwood handled chisels tend to have split ferrules and I can only surmise that this may have something do with over drying the boxwood, as the boxwood must have expanded with moisture after manufacture.

Just when the chisel neck was changed from a square profile to a round is hard to discern but I estimate that this might have been around 1952-4.  The round neck was then changed to a tapered one around 1985. [but gradually phased in on different models].

The plastic edge guards may indicate whether the chisels are  real Marples . The earlier guards were totally rectangular in section and were marked ‘Wm.Marples & Sons Sheffield‘ on one side. They came in many different colours: Light blue; Pink/grey; Salmon;  Translucent; Red; Black; Creamy green; Sky blue;  Translucent red + others.  The later versions were sloped down to the cutting edge and marked ‘marples england‘ on one side and the sides were ribbed.  These guards seem to be Blue until c.1993  and then Grey thereafter until  c.2002.  A Black plastic open toed variety was then used until at least c.2008, and when Irwin took over a totally different [generic] guard was used.
The pictures below show the Chisel Edge Guards that were for sale around 1965:

Ferrules were gradually cheapened by making them shorter and then not even from brass..see below ….these #222 Carver Ash handled B/E Firmers were made 1986-1994.  They all have the same size handles for the many different widths, shortened non-brass [light brass coloured steel] ferrules and no makers mark inscribed on the blade.

This Rare Blue Chip Set [above], with included Mallet, probably dates around 2004
​but I do not understand the quote ‘Since 1898‘!!

And then we arrive in the bottom basement section where anything goes to sell a tool. This must surely be the lowest level to which a MARPLES name was attached in order to sell a tool.   For the Professional Woodworker, are you kidding me!!??   Disgusting!!!  But then again the owner of the company, at this time, was ‘American Tool Co.’  so what can you expect?

Manufacturing for Tool Merchants?

Below is the first instance that I have found whereby it is obvious that MARPLES did indeed manufacture tools for specific Tool Merchants and placed the Merchant’s name on the tool at the factory.  In this case the Common Octagon Boxwood handled B/E chisel was made for Louis Henry TURTLE of Croydon and has the MARPLES trefoil impressed alongside Turtle‘s name. [TURTLE was a Saw maker, Cutler and Tool Merchant [info from Simon Barley]  This chisel would be from around the year 1900.

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