However, at the last minute I changed my mind and bought a quarter in "FOOTPRINT" chisel. Mostly to due with availability and it looks like this brand is made in England and not in China. No big deal, this a very inexpensive purchase but it's the one on mind today. Does anybody have any comments on the Footprint brand?
I'll be interested to see what PhilP has to say...
Hi Jerry and Otis Footprint Tools Limited were
a mid-range tool producer, never in the same league as Record-Ridgeway (who owned the Marples brand) in their Sheffield days. In terms of fit or finish, but nevertheless their tools were generally made from decent quality steel and were properly hardened (their auger bits were particualarly good). They were a family run concern and unlike so many others never took the easy way out by buying-in from the Far East and relabelling, so at least if you bought their stuff you'd be assured that the steel was of good quality, even though you'd probably have to regrind and sharpen their chisels before first use (as Bill also says above). With the sale of Record (and Marples/Ridgeway) to Irwin in the 1990s (and the subsequent removal of almost all Record/Marples manufacturing activity away from the UK) and the demise of Paramo (who owned Clay) in 2003 we were left with only 5 tool firms in Sheffield who produced their own chisels so far as I know (the others being Henry Taylor, Robert Sorby, Crown and Stanley Works UK). Footprint's demise in 2008 came as a bit of a shock to me, but they have subsequently re-organised as Footprint Sheffield Limited
and are continuing to manufacture in the city, including their range of chisels
As to the quality - generally the steel they use is pretty good, and they at least know how to harden it properly. Marples, by comparison, has gone downhill a lot since the 1980s and I know of joiners who've bought sets or individual Blue Chip or the "other" range, the carpenter's "lollipop" chisels in recent years (since about 2004) and who've been less than pleased with their performance. Above: Marples "lollipop" chisels. Same blade as a Blue Chip these days, different handle, supposedly more durable than the Blue Chip. Aimed at site joiners, etc
Received wisdom seems to be that Marples chisels whilst well ground are very variable in hardness and edge holding ability these days and that the modern ones aren't a patch on the older ones. Unlike others here I couldn't recommend modern Marples chisels
Jerry - the best thing I can say about your chisel is sharpen it and try it. If it works well then go buy more as and when the need arises. remember that mortising tends to knock the edges of any chisel about so some way to sharpen and hone quickly is a must