I could see no better time to write about my latest favorite tool, the RALI “shark” disposable bladed chisels, than after a recent TiC article by Jed Dixon, “Sharpening Secrets.” If you’re anything like me, you hate sharpening. But it’s still one of those things you have to do if you want to do clean and accurate work. I don’t know how many times I’ve found myself on the jobsite needing to chisel mortises for door hardware and discovered that my entire set of chisels—or better yet, just the two I needed—were dull. The likely explanations for this predicament are often one of the following:
A. I was too lazy to sharpen them.
B. I forgot to sharpen them.
C. I had no place to sharpen them (now I have a shop and a stationary grinder).
Years ago, I worked in Germany as a carpenter and cabinetmaker, and I was introduced to RALI double-sided and disposable bladed planes (Their tools are designed and made in Switzerland). And about a year ago, I discovered that RALI introduced disposable bladed chisels to their lineup of offerings. RALI’s website states that the RALI shark is a “revolutionary wood chisel based on the same principle than the RALI® handplane: it has interchangeable knives. It is delivered with knives of different widths, which are extremely simple to change.”
As soon as I heard of the shark, I knew I wanted to get my hands on one. The problem was that I couldn’t find this chisel anywhere in the U.S. So I called RALI in Switzerland and they told me that they weren’t offering the chisel in the U.S. yet. Then I called a carpenter friend in Germany and asked if he could send me one (I offered to send him some U.S. Camel non-filtered cigarettes and a few other items in exchange.).
Four weeks later I received a package…
|This is the “L” size (large) and “M” (medium) size; both are close to 9 1/2 in. long.|
You push down a spring steel button to slide the top back and change blades:
|These blades come with a small protector piece, which would be easy to lose, but it’s a nice thought.|
The blade assortment is as follows: The “L” comes in 25 (~1 in.), 30 (~1 3/16 in.), and 40 mm (~1 9/16 in.); the “M” comes in 18 (~11/16 in.), 20 (~13/16 in.), and 22 mm (~7/8 in.). They come in size “S” too, but I didn’t get one so I don’t know the sizes for it.
|There are two blades in a box. They can also be sharpened if you’re into that!|
Paring was the only thing that took some getting used to. The back of the chisel was not perfectly in plane with the edge of the blade (maybe it’s my eyes though…after all, we are talking about Swiss toolmakers here!).
The other very cool thing about the chisel is that it can be turned into a saw by putting a jigsaw blade into it (which came in handy for cutting sheetrock and sawing a nail off in a pocket door opening!). It can also be turned into a scraper by adding scraper blades of varying widths.
I’m not sure why, but the jigsaw blade attachment doesn’t come with the chisel—it’s a separate accessory. I got mine in Europe, and I’m not sure if you can find it in the U.S. I called a company called Advanced Machinery and spoke with a “Hans” who said that they are the only ones selling the shark in the States. But he wasn’t familiar with the jigsaw attachment. Their website does seem to offer the RALI shark in the “L” size, and they’re selling it for $107.95.
So where can you get a RALI shark “M” or “S”? I don’t know, but I’m sure Google can tell you.
And no, I am not affiliated with RALI in any fashion, mode, or way.
Chris Tomasi is the owner of Tomasi Design in Tiburon, CA. His company specializes in custom cabinetry, furniture, and finish carpentry services for residential and commercial clients.
Chris began his career as an apprentice carpenter in the early 90s, learning the fundamentals of residential building from the ground up. It quickly became evident that his interest was in the finished products in these homes—the interior architectural elements and furniture.
Chris moved from rough to finish carpentry to cabinetmaking in short order while working for various builders in California, New Hampshire, New York, and North Carolina.
It was in North Carolina that he made the leap to self-employment, building mainly studio furniture with a partner.
Chris’s ancestry inspired him to move to Sienna, Italy, at the age of 30, and then Hamburg, Germany (His father is Italian, and his mother is German.). Living in Europe, Chris was able to pursue his interest in European culture and woodwork (and it gave him the added opportunity to be closer to his family). In Hamburg, he worked with several master carpenters and woodworkers in a shop in the middle of the city.
After nearly five years in the cold and dark north, he moved back to where he was raised: sunny California. He remains rooted in the San Francisco Bay Area, living with his wife and five-year-old daughter.
Very cool… Maybe someone will have a trip to Europe and do a group purchase… and not exceed there 50 lb. limit coming home?
Straight out of the gate, let’s make this clear:
Sorry, Chris, but you’re going to have to go to
With that out of the way,
Gee, I wish I’d had one of those replaceable blades for every chisel that I put a 1/8″ nick in hitting a nail!
While I am very good at sharpening, grinding-out a 1/8″ nick does take a fair amount of time. So, over the last 40 years of doing this stuff, I must admit that I have accumulated a suspiciously-large number of chisels, having had to buy, then quickly hone, replacements for the chisels that I trashed the day before —
I used to be able to keep up, but now, as a family guy, I’ve gotta get dinner on the table a couple of times a week (at least), then load the dishwasher after.
Back in the 70s, I would retreat to my basement lair, and grind/hone away. But then, in the 90s, I had kids, and the rest is history:
Lots of nicked chisels, and a long “Honey-Do” list that takes WAY more precedence than my own little, inconsequential, sharpening checklist.
Nobody rat me out, now, but I do believe that I’m going to be Googling a few online sources for those chisels.
I know I know….Yeah well….the puritanical carpentry bit left me about 10 years ago when I finally figured out that time is not only money, but, depending on how you spend it, is also quality of life. It’s the little things right? Unless of course you enjoy black fingers and fingernails. My wife isnt too hot on the black fingernail look…so now I just look at my sharpening stones and think what to do with them.
Advanced Machinery has some in limited sizes. That’s the only place I’ve found here in the States.
I can tell you young guys, that once the kids leave, you will gain SOME time!~
Chris: Great article. I’m going to get me some. You are obviously a very smart guy. Just your address- Tiburon- gives that away.
I believe these were available before the rali ones came out and offer an alternative.
The rali plane is always on my belt or nearby. Want the chisel.
Very interesting. I’m viewing this on my smartphone while returning from AWFS in Vegas, so forgive me if I’m missing some of the photos, but where are the photos of the chisel in use? Can you chop a mortise, clean-up a dovetail socket, etc?
Yes they came out before the Rali Shark. There is also another company making disposable bladed chisels but I can’t remember the name. Both of these came out after I had gone to great lengths in making a prototype for such a chisel and researching the patent process. I never got the patent as it was too costly. All I have now is a self addressed, stamped, unopened letter to myself with drawings and description of my version (poor man’s patent I am told..which doesn’t mean squat I am also told). The 2 versions I found both required screws to change the blade and that seemed to me that the screws would come loose after some use so I dismissed them.
Mortising video link:
Not sure about the concept, or actually how it would work for me. I’m guessing I’d go to use the Shark and find that I’d forgotten to order a new blade after nicking the last one!
This may help out with finding the Shark; http://www.tersaknives.com/Rali-Shark_c_17.html
I did a quick search for “rali planes” because I’m unfamiliar with them and the first site listed is a place up here in BC that seems to ship to the US.
Sure wish I was on commission…
you’ll love their products. I wonder how much their import fees are.
It appears to me to be one more step down the slippery slope.
Chris, can I have your old sharpening stones; I am still stuck in the old chisel stone age so I could use them, please. Bob