Very blunt new Morris billhook

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Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby cian87 » Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:04 pm

Hi all

I've recently bought a new Llandeilo pattern billhook by Morris of Dunsford. The trouble is, its edge is a long long way off being a cutting edge(see images 1 and 2.) It's the second Morris billhook I've bought, and while the edge on the first was blunt when it arrived, it did at least have an edge.
The "edge" on this new one is over a millimetre wide at a couple of points, which doesn't sound like much, but it means taking a huge amount of material off along the whole length of the blade to make it usable.
There's also a notch about 1mm deep around a third of the way up the blade (image 3.)

Is it normal for a Morris hook to arrive in such unfinished condition? This is far, far worse than the other Morris hook I bought.
Should I ask the seller for a replacement? Or should I just get to it and start grinding?

Thanks in advance for any help!
Cian

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Image 1
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Bilwg 2.jpg
Image 2
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Bilwg 3.jpg
Image 3
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Deuparth gwaith ei ddechrau...
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby Brian Williamson » Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:14 am

Sadly, I think that this is just the way of the world. Morris once had a very good reputation but it has been slipping away over the years. The upside is that (hopefully) the basic billhooks are still good - they just don't finish them as well as they should.

Whether it is worth your while taking it back probably depends on how litigious you are by nature! If they have other billhooks they may well do a swop for you, but I should think that there is a fair chance the original will find it's way back onto the shelf. It's unlikely that any feedback will get to Morris's and, even if it does, will they do anything about it?

Perhaps I'm just feeling a bit world-weary, but I think that you might as well get on with it. You probably have to accept that any hook you buy (whether new or secondhand) will need a fair bit of work to reach the condition you would like it to be in, so put it down to experience and try to learn from it next time you buy something.

Good luck,

Brian.
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:45 pm

Unless you paid peanuts for it, I'd take it back. There has to be better tools out there, that is ridiculous.
I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.- Unknown.
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby Billman » Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:53 pm

Sadly, Richard Morris is now a one man business - the nature of the works themselves, the work involved, and H&S means he cannot employ anyone without a major rebuild of the workshop. As a result he undertakes all aspects of the work, plating, forging, shaping. hardening and tempering and grinding - there will be corners cut in order to make a profit, and sadly the blunt edge is indicative of this... His nephew, as a family member, used to be able help - but I do not know if he still does so.... They used to make the handles on site as well - using a copy lathe and a belt sander...

On the plus side he generally uses a good EN8 or EN9 carbon steel, which if properly hardened and tempered should hold a good edge. I would advise the use of a flap wheel on an angle grinder, cutting away from the edge - little and often to avoid overheating the edge - and keep a damp cloth handy in case you start to see the edge change colour - straw/brown is OK, but blue will start to soften it...

Personally, I would take umbrage with the seller/retailer - this should not have been sold in this condition - it is not 'fit for purpose'.....
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby cian87 » Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:16 pm

Thanks for the advice fellas. I have contacted the seller and am awaiting reply.
Sad to hear about Morris struggling. Although I'm fairly new to green woodworking and woodsmanship, from what I've heard they seem to be well-regarded.
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:28 am

I have had 2 Morris billhooks for a few years now.
They had next to no edge when I bought them but with a chainsaw file and a fine grit "canoe stone" I put a usable edge on them and now they just get better and better as we frequently touch them up.

there is an awful lot worse out there!
learning more every day
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby Louis » Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:51 am

My thoughts:

If you want to use a billhook once or twice a year and are willing to spend a couple of hours reprofiling and sharpening one of these then it'll do the job. But, if you are going to regularly use a billhook every year then the new morris billhooks are pointless. They are cheap, and cheap tools are no good for regular use.

There is much more to a tool then just the steel quality. And with billhooks and axes and adzes the balance is probably the most important factor, which these hooks lack.

I've used a douzen of these and the are no good. I recomend buying old hooks, they might not be cheap and will also need a lot of work, but will last a lifetime and will save you so much effort.

Morris should get on top of the quality factor, if a hook costs £100 and you use it for ten years that's pretty cheap!
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby tagnut69 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:51 pm

Sad state of affairs when a business is destined to go down the plug hole, how can anyone expect to sell goods when they are that badly finished and survive?
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby ToneWood » Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:40 pm

Billman wrote:Sadly, Richard Morris is now a one man business - the nature of the works themselves, the work involved, and H&S means he cannot employ anyone without a major rebuild of the workshop. As a result he undertakes all aspects of the work, plating, forging, shaping. hardening and tempering and grinding - there will be corners cut in order to make a profit, and sadly the blunt edge is indicative of this... His nephew, as a family member, used to be able help - but I do not know if he still does so.... They used to make the handles on site as well - using a copy lathe and a belt sander...

Sad. I have long thought that a significant portion of the cost of a Gransfor Bruks axe must be for the superlative grinding, sharpening & buffing/stropping job they do - but you pay through the nose for it. The Morris handmade billhooks have a longer blade (but simpler handle) than most axes yet cost significantly less than half the price of, say, a Swedish Carving Axe. Higher quality usually comes with an increased price tag. Perhaps bigger customers (MOD, councils,NT,...?) don't mind sharpening the tools.

Billman wrote:On the plus side he generally uses a good EN8 or EN9 carbon steel, which if properly hardened and tempered should hold a good edge. I would advise the use of a flap wheel on an angle grinder, cutting away from the edge - little and often to avoid overheating the edge - and keep a damp cloth handy in case you start to see the edge change colour - straw/brown is OK, but blue will start to soften it....

Alternatively a large wet grinding wheel could put the edge on it (mine would). But would you be confident that the tool is otherwise manufactured normally? If not, send it back and let the reseller &/or Morris redeem themselves with good service.

Billman wrote:Personally, I would take umbrage with the seller/retailer - this should not have been sold in this condition - it is not 'fit for purpose'.....

Yes, you have rights, the legal term, from the Sale of Goods Act, is "of merchantable quality". I'm sure the reseller/Morris would simply replace your purchase though.
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Re: Very blunt new Morris billhook

Postby Billman » Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:48 pm

A few months ago I bought an as new Bulldog billhook - it had a similar problem (Morris were once owned by and made tools for Bulldog)... Five minutes with a flap wheel on an angle grinder, and it's as it should be....

I met Alec Morris back in the 1980's, just after he had bought the business back from Bulldog.... He told me that the HSE had asked him NOT to sharpen the back blade on double edged billhooks as users were cutting their head on the backstroke.... Perhaps they took the advice literally...

I've been recently advised that Richard has now retired (to France) and his nephew (?) has taken over the business...
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