Experimenting with Japanese chisels

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Hornbeam

Established Member
Joined
21 Mar 2017
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
737
Location
Cheshire
I have always used traditional UK made bevel edged chisels, mainly Sorby or Ashley Isles. I can get these nicely sharped and they work well
Many years ago I thought I would try a Japanese bench chisel just to see what it was like
It takes a razor edge which it holds well but just felt awful to use
Scroll on about 10 years and curiosity got the better of me and I bought one of David Charlesworth old stock at Harrogate. What a difference. The chisel is significantly shorter and generally much lighter. It is a pleasure to use along with a fantastic edge. Interestingly there was no hoop fitted but it had been rounded over more like a western chisel
The chisels are clearly different but am I missing something in the type etc

Ian
 

Attachments

  • Chisel1.jpg
    Chisel1.jpg
    114.9 KB · Views: 0
  • Chisel2.jpg
    Chisel2.jpg
    123.7 KB · Views: 0
I like the Japanese ones I have. They are small and nicely balanced. I sharpen them at 30 degrees and they work very nicely.

I could be wrong but the ones without the hoop are probably a "slick" so designed for paring by hand rather than hammering.
Or it could be that no one bothered to set the hoop !

Ollie
 
The one without the hoop is much smaller. The slicks/paring chisels are generally much longer 320mm plus. I suspect the hoop was never fitted for a reason but I know David Charles worth was very thorough on chisel set up
My question was more about the relative size differences of the 2 chisels and the proportions of blade/handle length which are massively different
 
Those are both push chisels. David probably just preferred slightly shorter handles.
 
I have always used traditional UK made bevel edged chisels, mainly Sorby or Ashley Isles. I can get these nicely sharped and they work well
Many years ago I thought I would try a Japanese bench chisel just to see what it was like
It takes a razor edge which it holds well but just felt awful to use
Scroll on about 10 years and curiosity got the better of me and I bought one of David Charlesworth old stock at Harrogate. What a difference. The chisel is significantly shorter and generally much lighter. It is a pleasure to use along with a fantastic edge. Interestingly there was no hoop fitted but it had been rounded over more like a western chisel
The chisels are clearly different but am I missing something in the type etc

Ian
If there is no hoop it is for paring. This is quite a compehensive explanation of nomi types.
https://covingtonandsons.com/category/chisel-varieties/
 
I agree with David - more likely to be small pares. It is not just that there are no hoops. The blades appear longer than those of the typical bench chisel (mmm ... on reflection, perhaps not so). Also, check the bevel angle: 30 degrees for bench planes and 25 degrees for parers.

Compare:

Kiyohisa bench chisels ...

4.jpg


Kiyohisa parers ...

3.jpg


Regards from Perth

Derek
 
Last edited:
Derek
living nearer to Japan than us in't north, has their tools affected what's gen used down sarf.....?
I have a small 8" very thin pull saw.....quite impressed for delicate work....
will look out for some bigger ones now as my Stanley throw aways are getting done......
Any suggestions on make....my hand saw's are treated badley....
 
Derek
living nearer to Japan than us in't north, has their tools affected what's gen used down sarf.....?
I have a small 8" very thin pull saw.....quite impressed for delicate work....
will look out for some bigger ones now as my Stanley throw aways are getting done......
Any suggestions on make....my hand saw's are treated badley....
Not derek, but both Z and gyochuko make good pullsaws. Other companies do, too, but those two stick out as having a wide offering and they are dirt cheap in Japan. Less so when distributed to the west.

The last time I bought crosscut blades from japan for a Z saw, I bought a group to justify the proxy shipping cost. They were about $5 each for 265mm crosscut blades. They retail in the west for $13-$20 each, which is a shame. It implies they're something they are not instead of being able to appreciate them for what they are.

Sold individually in japan off of their auction site, they're about $7 including shipping and consumption tax within japan if only buying one.
 
It takes a razor edge which it holds well

26c3 steel operates in the same hardness range as white #1B, similar composition. Slight amount of chromium exchanged for manganese and it may actually be a little better than white 1 (better toughness at high hardness, which means it will hold up a little better).

I've had samples tested that are just heat treated in a forge (but skillfully) and they're right around 64 hardness at more of a western temper. If I left them tempered 50 degrees F short of that, they'd be about 66 hardness and would hold up OK (the western temper is a little more practical for hardwoods).

When white steel chisels are tempered to a little lower hardness, but skillfully so, they are very sweet to use in western work and not at all chippy. This is probably around 63/64.

Cheap japanese chisels that are advertised 62/63 don't have the same feel, though - there's a lack of care or something going on with the heat treatment process as they can still have fragile tendencies at lower hardness.

Some of the older file also have the same feel as white 1 or 26c3, but it's not very easy to get them in quantity. 26c3 is mill run by voestalpine/uddeholm in the US.

I think it's unlikely that we'll ever see it manufactured, and I wouldn't trust a commercial heat treater to get it right vs. just use it and bias a process to limit warp, and sacrifice edge quality.

What you're feeling when you notice that the chisels "get sharp" is a combination of hardness and low toughness at hardness. The result is steel that isn't grooved as deeply by stones and at the same time, won't hold on to a wire edge on fine stones. Toughness is a side impact test - it can give us some information for woodworking tools, but it sounds strange to say that a "low toughness" steel may sometimes work a lot better than a higher toughness steel in chisels, and in plane irons. Not in knives that will be bent or used to stab something hard (like ice), though.
 
Separately, someone generously sold me (for reasonable) two paring chisels made by Kiyotada years ago. Stan Covington got me a third kiyotada chisel from a dealer's private stock in tokyo (again, reasaonble) .

Both of the paring chisels have shorter handles like David C.'s.

Whoever had them in japan (kiyotada is long dead, so they are not chisels bought by white collar collectors, they were used) preferred the shorter handles - probably because of how they liked to use them.
 
As I am investigating this, some things are becoming clearer
The larger chisel which I purchased over 10 years ago is probably Chu-Usu Nomi but could be Atsu Nomi. These are larger heavier weight joinery chisels
Going back to the smaller chisel from David C, I have compared it with a similar width japanese paring chisel the paring chisel ha a longer blade and longer "neck"
 
Derek
living nearer to Japan than us in't north, has their tools affected what's gen used down sarf.....?
I have a small 8" very thin pull saw.....quite impressed for delicate work....
will look out for some bigger ones now as my Stanley throw aways are getting done......
Any suggestions on make....my hand saw's are treated badley....
Gyokucho. Check Amazon.jp, far more economical than buying from Europe, prices are tax paid and here in Italy delivered in 4 days by DHL.
 
Derek
living nearer to Japan than us in't north, has their tools affected what's gen used down sarf.....?
I have a small 8" very thin pull saw.....quite impressed for delicate work....
will look out for some bigger ones now as my Stanley throw aways are getting done......
Any suggestions on make....my hand saw's are treated badley....

My go-to Japanese saws are by Nakaya. The dozuki super fine is a laser :)

https://www.nakaya-saw.com/en/dozuki_saws.htm
I used Z-saws for many years, and they are very good value-for-money, and better for those starting out. The Nakaya are not much more, but have thinner plates, cut effortlessly, however would be vulnerable to kinking if inexperienced.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 
I find it strange thar a Japanese saw manufacturer uses Swedish steel when Nippon Steel are undisputed technology leaders. Many years ago I had a 10 day technology exchange British Steel/Nippon Steel which was fantastic
 

Latest posts

Back
Top