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 a few years.   Please study this picture well, as many are never seen today and may have existed for but 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 7530-Kensington Pattern Chisel Handle but it looks to be a very comfortable handle.

In the March 1957 Pocket Cat.  these 2 adverts appear advising that MARPLES chisels are good to the last inch as they have been "Hardened and Tempered from edge to trademark."

{I have no idea who was this fine ' Churchill ' type figure!}

In the 1864 and 1873 Catalogues is listed [but not shown] a No. 115Cast SteelMillrights' chisel available 1/4"- 3"wide. [Although it is not numbered in 1864.]  

But in the 1897  Catalogue it is available as 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 No. 600 and still showing the same sizes and each still having TWO steel ferrules. It is not shown or listed in the 1921 Catalogue, having being discontinued in favour of other similar chisels, 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.]

The image [below] is of a  2"  #115  c.1890.

In 1986 MARPLES decided that they would draw enthusiasts back to the fold by introducing a throwback chisel. This was the #777Rosewood handled B/E chisel. [ 1/8"-1.1/2"]

Note the truncated brass ferrules, they would have saved at least 5p each ferrule over installing a real good old length one!   They lasted until c. May 1991.

The above scan is from the Record Marples Price List of 1st. March 1986

This image is from the 1897 Catalogue.

To the left is a set of recent #773 Splitproof Sash Mortice Chisels, spelt with a C again!!   Note that the handles are rotated 90 degrees for ease of Morticing[Mortising?], differentiating these from Regular Firmer Chisels, where the names on the handle are in line with the top/bottom chisel surfaces.

Carver Boxwood Firmer [317] 1909-1994 or B/E Firmer [377] 1909-1998

Found quite often on a famous Auction site, these chisels can be had once again in various quality states according to year of production.

The very best were the square necked chisel, probably <c.1952.  These would have had a small round MARPLES water transfer applied down close to the brass ferrule.  Again see the degradation over time that this fine chisel suffered, lower Left. [Disgusting ferrules, 'tapered' neck , all same size handles and no Makers mark on the blade.] 

The 'tapered neck' appeared on these chisels around 1985


​I really should address this important section to deal with the chisels that shaped our country, and many more, namely the much abused Mortise Chisel.  This style of chisel is rarely used today, outside teaching schools, having been supplanted by Drill press style Mortising Machines or other wood joints that rely on modern adhesives.

So I will expand this section based upon history.

Even in 1861 the following MortiCe Chisels were listed in the MARPLES catalogue:

Common Mortice Chisels                                1/8" - 1"

Best Joiners' and Cabinet Mortice Chisels.      1/8" - 1"

Cast Steel     ditto          ditto                            1/8" - 1" 

Improved Sash Mortice  Chisels,  all steel.      3/8" - 5/8"

Socket      ditto   ditto       ditto                        1/4" - 1"

Cast Steel Socket    ditto   ditto                       1/8" - 1"

Lock                     ditto     ditto                        1/2" - 5/8"

Improved Lock     ditto    Tang or Socket.      1/2" - 5/8"

By 1897 the following entries are made in that catalogue, and the name has been changed to MortiSe:

To the RIGHT is the HARLEQUIN set [except that there are 2x 1/2" sizes with different coloured handles!!??   388/S4

Above are shown the 2 pages of chisels from the IRWIN catalogue of Jan 1st 2006, indicating 'Made in England' on the products.

The set below is named as M555R, 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 chisels in the 80s and 90s. But this set with Grey plastic edge protectors is probably around 2001 ​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,  as shown to the right above]

The above images are of the M777/S5.  

A M777/S6 set was introduced in 1988 with the 1/1/4" chisel included.

In 1968 the 'BLUE CHIP' handled B/E chisels #444 and gouges had been introduced followed in 1971 by the #333 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 this page is from 1971.

The chisel to the left is a #133 Cast Steel Socket Mortice chisel  c 1873

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, the London Pattern Sash Mortise Chisels and the Tanged Butt Chisels.  All the rest, except the Socket style, are square necked.  All the handles are made of  either Ash, Beech or Boxwood with no Plastic in evidence. 

This situation was in effect until at least the March 1940 pocket catalogue.

Made in China to Marples' product specifications. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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 [<c.1893] did not indicate ENGLAND only that they were made in SHEFFIELD.

This being due to the Merchandise Marks Act 1887 & 1891 which, in essence, stated that all tools produced or imported into England had to have the Country of Origin impressed onto the tool.

Prior to this date 'Wm. MARPLES & Sons, Sheffield' had been quite adequate.  So this is a way of dating antique English tools.  If there is no Country of Origin on the tool, then it may well be prior to 1891 in age.   BUT I have found this to be not totally adhered to 7/2018.

I have found that many of the later Boxwood handled chisels tend to have split/cracked ferrules and I can only surmise that this may have something to do with the over drying of the boxwood, as the boxwood must have expanded after manufacture.

Just when the chisel neck was changed from a square profile to a round profile is hard to discern but I estimate that this might have been around1955.

The round neck was then changed to a tapered neck around1985.  [But gradually phased in on different models]

The plastic edge guards may indicate whether the chisels are real MARPLES as they had 'marples england' or 'Wm.Marples & Sons Sheffield' molded in [Blue, Grey, Orange, Translucent, Red, Black + others]. The later versions were sloped down to the cutting edge. Edge guards seem to be Blue until c.1993 and then were Grey thereafter, until c.2002 and when Irwin took over a totally different [generic] Black guard was used.

Ferrules were cheapened by making them shorter and then not even from real Brass..see below Left....These #222 Carver Ash handled B/E Firmers were made around1995. 

They all have the same size handles for many different widths, shortened non -brass ferrules and no makers mark inscribed on the blade.


The #373 Splitproof handled chisel was available in the UK 1954-1998<. 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 1965 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 there.

I can find no listing in any of my catalogues of a 'Splitproof' handled Paring chisel.

I will soon be posting photos of these Paring Chisels #327/323.  11/2018

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.

This same slightly different image is from the 1909 Catalogue

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

Whereas the Marples Made by RECORD   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, as seen below.

Above is a fine example of a #737 London Pattern Sash Mortise Chisel

I have noted that the handle could have the following impressions in the plastic:

'Record  Marples'  on both sides and had Electro etched SHEFFIELD ENGLAND on the top of the blade, that had a Tapered neck.

'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]

'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]

As far as I can deduce, these Paring chisels with Shatterproof handles were 'Export Only'. Labelled 'Continental Pattern'.  Cat. # 323   c.1965

Blades are not marked. 

The page here (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.

Some 'MODERN' Chisels​... that you will mostly find today.

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

This Rare Blue Chip Set, with included Mallet, probably dates around 2004

​I do not understand the quote 'Since 1898'.

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

By 1954  the 'Round'  [Amber] Splitproof  handles  had made an entrance, in  B/E Firmer (876) style.

This page is dated Sept 1958

The M500B set shown [Right] 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  dated  '2002'.

Note the differences in the necks [above] of #730 Sash Mortise Chisel [#731/#732 handled] and the London-Pattern Sash Mortise Chisel [#736/#737 handled]

Below is the real survivor, the Iron Hooped Registered Round Neck Mortise Chisel #601 with a c1980s example.

Below you will see the amended page showing all Round Neck.   Dated March 1957 {Compare with above}

Here you will find a table [below] that shows the Mortise chisels that were produced from 1909 onwards arranged according to item number.  You will see that sometime between 1909 and the next Catalogue (1928) many styles were discontinued leaving a bare minimum to soldier on. The backbone of these survivors were certainly #601, #706, #736, #737

Below is the 1909 page showing the un-handled blades and to the right below, examples of the handled products(different numbers)

At this time (9/61) the Paring Gouges and Paring Chisels are shown as having Square necks.

From the 1909 Catalogue come the following excerpts and there are now 20 pages used to cover the extensive range, too much to even overview here.  Naturally these chisels and gouges were also available in 'Paring' style and also a cranked variety of the latter. The shear volume of different tools each engineered for different trades is overwhelming and you can only really grasp this fact by looking through the catalogues. What I can present here is but a very thin slice of information.

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 photo.

It also has a Grey plastic edge keeper. As you can see the mark is a surface application, not pressed into the handle.

The #370 Chisels shown Right are obviously from an earlier time.

This chisel[Left] is marked Irwin-Marples and was produced outside of Sheffield around 2006<.         Look at and learn the blade markings​, they will never indicate 'Made in Sheffield'.  

THE BEST  [above] ....had a round neck, not a Tapered neck, which came later.


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

The set to the Right is numbered M500 S6 and was made by Record Marples probably c2000.  Note the word  'Record' in the flimsy plastic tray. [You will always find the tray cracked/split].  This set would have been boxed, as above.

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 stage 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 c1952/3 and that the Square neck [Hammer forged?] had been replaced by the Drop Forged Round Neck because of production costs.  [But see later for a MARPLES contradiction]

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 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 spelled in Britain!]

This section has been my on my mind for years, since I have collected and restored MARPLES chisels (gouges) 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, nobody else is able or will even try to do this!!  As I have said all along, THIS SITE is where you look for those elusive details as to all MARPLES woodwork tools.

This photo [Right]  is to show you that from at least 2006  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 c2006  

​Also see immediately above.

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

'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.  They always had a 'tapered' neck.  They 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 2006.  Very soon after, the whole system was transferred either to Italy or more probably CHINA to be produced there in order to yield more 'profit' for the American Corporation. But I have noticed that the Irwin-Marples Blue Chip Chinese Chisels seem to have a gold coloured  MARPLES emblem on the handle rather than the the previous silver coloured emblem.

But in the 10/79 E3 Catalogue [below] they are no longer called 'Continental', just 'Hooped Beechwood'. And now numbered #M371  Confusing!.


Can you now see how utterly confusing these takeovers have on dating etc.?

This chisel has definitely an older style marking, but is contained in a later style plastic wallet.

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 andchisels are 'hand-forged.' 

BUT  hand-forgedcan include the handling of red hot steel into a drop forge, as opposed to the automatic systems employed recently,  [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'.  

 I very much doubt it!!

The 2 photos Left 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 size range.

The most common MARPLES chisels found today:

After around 2006 Irwin Marples moved chisel production to China.

Don't they LOOK nice!

If this set is in your workshop, I feel sorry for you because there are so many good but older real MARPLES chisels available,if you would but look.

The above discourse should have given you the resources to do just that.

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

This is the famous Red/Yellow plastic handled chisel that we all love, 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 2006, and these were marked on the blade  'MADE INSHEFFIELD  ENGLAND',  but soon after,  the manufacture was exported away to cheaper manufacturing countries. Be aware that the Irwin Marples made out East offerings may have but a light electro-etching of their name on the blade which can easily be rubbed out to make the chisel appear like a real MARPLES.   [The handle is still simply marked MARPLES]  

Neither these or the Blue Chip chisels were intended to be 'Fine Woodwork' chisels.  They are every day 'user' chisels intended for the Trades.  They have no 'feel' or balance, as all the chisels (1/4"-2") have the same size but heavy handle.  As the Catalogue picture below shows the Hefty Oval handle allows a larger striking surface .  You also can see below that with every change of 'Ownership' the packaging also had to be changed.   Most confusing.   By 1988 the 'tapered' neck had also been introduced into this line.

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.  Not being a Computer whiz, I had to scan the tables [in WORD] into a jpeg file and upload to here as an image.  I therefore cannot amend these tables easily.  I had to divide the years up into 1909-Oct 1938 and 1940- 1998. Down the Left side are listed the catalogue numbers and a brief description, but omitting any pre-fixes such as 'M' or 'MR'.  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 considerations and popularity of the item.

The Index below is to help you understand the tables:

o  =  noted in that catalogue

-   =  assumed to have been produced at that time.

A  =  Ash

B  =  Beech

S  =  Splitproof

n  =  newly introduced in that year

w  =  withdrawn in that year.

e  =  Export Only

Blank spaces denote that the item was not available in that year

By 1928 there are 16 pages, but 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.

The 1928 first 2 pages of Common Chisels and Gouges are shown below:

Here [below] is the 'Continental' pattern wood handle that had been introduced into the line. [1954]

Throughout this treatise please not the variation in spelling:  'Mortise' and 'Mortice'. Which do you think is 'correct'?

The next text which I have available is the 1897 catalogue, and here is 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 Octagon Boxwood Handles  (see right [7555] these were only offered for a short period of time). There are simply just too many varieties and combinations of chisels and gouges to list here.

The first question on your minds is.....'When did MARPLES start making Chisels/Gouges ' ?

And this started my catalogue research.  I hope that you will join me and enjoy the path that we can briefly explore in this field, since these tools shaped 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 and with the Trifoil are from 1875 onwards. But to find no marks, or at least to find the marks HIBERNIA and a single Shamrock is very hard to date.

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), so therefore MARPLESmay have started making these very important, but basic tools for the 'Woodworking trade'  around 1850 when it was considered a viable financial proposition.

 Remember, William was not a man to takes 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 edge tool makers who were well established in these lines.

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

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.

The 1873 catalogue lists ' Bevelled Edge ' chisels both in Firmer and Paring Chisels and again with the option of being supplied handled or not. But there are again no details as to what shape/style of handle could be supplied.  I can therefore conclude that the move to a 'Bevelled Edge ' chisel started around 1870, but this is always a hard date to establish.

Prior to this time you may 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 these workmen who suggested to the manufacturers that  'Bevelled Edge chisels' may be good practical items to produce.

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

By 1909 there are 22 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...Round Back Cabinet Firmer Chisel.  It must have been short lived.

The 1862 catalogue [2 pages shown below] does indeed show and list Cast Steel Firmer Chisels, 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'. [but which shape 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. 

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