I've been there, in fact I started off this way. Here is what I learned:
Nobody needs a set of thirteen bench chisels.
I've written about this before. I think a set of more than three chisels is a marketing gimmick (that most of us have bought into) that puts more tools than you need in your toolbox, separating you from more money that you could use for nicer tools.
If you have a nice box with a graduated set of chisels from 1/8" up to 1 1/2", the one you will inevitably reach for is the sharpest one. You'll eventually feel guilty about not keeping them all of them razor-sharp, but at the same time you won't have time to sharpen them all.
One doesn't often need a specific width of a bench chisel. Mortising is different, but let's put that aside for a moment. I find I use bench chisels on every project I build, but only occasionally need a specialty tool like a mortise chisel.
You can get away with two chisels: a kinda big one, and a kinda small one. My favorite sizes are a one inch chisel and a 3/8 inch chisel. These two chisels work for about 85% of all my chiselling needs.
|Here's my current set of chisels in my tool chest. The ones on the left are 3/8" and 1".|
Once you are happy with those, then you can (slowly) collect some more chisels for different uses. Sometimes you need something extra narrow, or sometimes you run into a wood that needs a lower angle honed on the edge than your daily beaters. If those happen to be around and tuned up, great! However, nine times out of ten, I could have gotten by with one of my two main chisels.
I would recommend in buying a premium chisel to start with, unless someone can show you how to tune an old chisel up to perfection. I've previously recommended Lie-Nielsen chisels, and I still do. Stay away from the ones that just look like Lie-Nielsens.
As far as my own personal preferences, I have moved away from the A2 steels in my chisels in favor of older O1 steel. To me it just "feels" better. It's hard to explain otherwise.
I also like to put a new handle that I've made on chisels with unsatisfactory (or missing) chisels.
|I've chosen to use a different wood for each of my chisels. The one on the right was a replacement handle I had, and the next one was given to me.|
|My chisels live here in my chest.|
What are your thoughts about the "perfect" set for the beginner?