Japanese Chisels - Why?
#21
  Re: Japanese Chisels - Why? by Belle City Woodworking (I look at a lot of s...)
I have a lot of chisels.  Lie-Nielsen, Blue Spruce, Veritas PM-V11, Ashley Iles, vintage Witherby.  I've owned and sold Narex, Marples, and Ray Iles.  By a long shot, the best chisel I have are two Japanese Nishiki paring chisels.  They get wicked sharp, hold an edge forever, and leave behind a surface that's better than most smoothing planes.  I don't think they are any more difficult to sharpen than western chisels, but it should be done freehand because most honing guides won't hang onto them easily or register them well due to the forging process leaving variability in shape of the chisel.

A few well-known woodworkers use Japanese chisels.  David Marks from Woodworks comes to mind.  George Nakashima.  Toshio Odate.  I think Derek Cohen also uses Japanese chisels.
Still Learning,

Allan Hill
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#22
  Re: RE: Japanese Chisels - Why? by AHill (I have a lot of chis...)
(06-14-2018, 05:12 PM)AHill Wrote: I have a lot of chisels.  Lie-Nielsen, Blue Spruce, Veritas PM-V11, Ashley Iles, vintage Witherby.  I've owned and sold Narex, Marples, and Ray Iles.  By a long shot, the best chisel I have are two Japanese Nishiki paring chisels.  They get wicked sharp, hold an edge forever, and leave behind a surface that's better than most smoothing planes.  I don't think they are any more difficult to sharpen than western chisels, but it should be done freehand because most honing guides won't hang onto them easily or register them well due to the forging process leaving variability in shape of the chisel.

A few well-known woodworkers use Japanese chisels.  David Marks from Woodworks comes to mind.  George Nakashima.  Toshio Odate.  I think Derek Cohen also uses Japanese chisels.

Mike Pekovich uses them too.

Thanks again for all the input!!!
Formerly known as John's Woodshop
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#23
  Re: Japanese Chisels - Why? by Belle City Woodworking (I look at a lot of s...)
IF you look close enough.. Cool  
   

You might just see one Japanese chisel.....a 12mm Mortise chisel....
 has been used a couple of times....Along with a 3/8" Buck Brothers mortise chisel....
Show me a picture, I'll build a project from that
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#24
  Re: RE: Japanese Chisels - Why? by AHill (I have a lot of chis...)
(06-14-2018, 05:12 PM)AHill Wrote: I have a lot of chisels.  Lie-Nielsen, Blue Spruce, Veritas PM-V11, Ashley Iles, vintage Witherby.  I've owned and sold Narex, Marples, and Ray Iles.  By a long shot, the best chisel I have are two Japanese Nishiki paring chisels.  They get wicked sharp, hold an edge forever, and leave behind a surface that's better than most smoothing planes.  I don't think they are any more difficult to sharpen than western chisels, but it should be done freehand because most honing guides won't hang onto them easily or register them well due to the forging process leaving variability in shape of the chisel.

A few well-known woodworkers use Japanese chisels.  David Marks from Woodworks comes to mind.  George Nakashima.  Toshio Odate.  I think Derek Cohen also uses Japanese chisels.
.......................
" I don't think they are any more difficult to sharpen than western chisels,"

They're not, when the sharpening medium is sufficiently hard...Freehand is the way I go also...I have a Tormek but japanese chisels do not lend themselves well to hollow grinding because the steel is so hard and may chip if ground to low.... If you microbevel, you defeat the whole idea of a super sharp,, laminated hard edge....My sharpener of choice on these chisels is an 8" diamond coated plate on my Veritas MKII used with lubrication and available from Amazon.. Diamond cuts it like butter and you can buy these plates in 3000 grit or less. If you don't have a MKII you can use the plate stationary..They cost about 15 bucks in the 8" diameter.When the plate loses it's diamond, you can flip it over and use diamond powder and grease...it is very flat and made of steel..I have them in several grit sizes.
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#25
  Re: Japanese Chisels - Why? by Belle City Woodworking (I look at a lot of s...)
(06-14-2018, 08:56 AM)Belle City Woodworking Wrote: I look at a lot of shop pics and shop tours to search for organization ideas, and I have noticed that many woodworkers have a set of Japanese Chisels in their tool arsenal.  Why?  

Since I have never used any I was just wondering how they became so popular, and are they superior to what we have available in the States?  Or, is it just a matter of preference?

Those of you that use them why do you like them so much?

Thanks!
John

The short answer is that Japanese chisel blades rule. Full stop. There is a very wide range of levels in terms of quality, but even the low levels will leave the best Western chisels for dust with regards sharpness and longevity of edge.

As mentioned, the blades are a laminated combination of (traditionally) a soft iron backing and a thin hard steel cutting layer. The cutting layer also is very finely hollowed, which is to enable the back to be more easily lapped (since the hard steel is .. well .. hard). 

There is also a range of hardness for the blades. Not all are difficult to hone. Some feel surprising soft, yet hold an edge a long, long time. 

The other big thing about Japanese blades is that they are hammered to shape. This process aids in aligning and reducing the steel grain. This creates an edge that is capable of the finest sharpness.

The longer answer must include how the chisels re sharpened and used.

Sharpening is typically with a single bevel at 30 degrees for bench chisels and 25 degrees for slicks (paring chisels). You can use a hollow grind - I have done so on some of my bench chisels for the last 20 years, and not experienced any chipping. I guess it depends on the steel used (there are two main types, white and blue paper - but that is another story). Traditionally, one hones by hand. No secondary bevel.

The other feature is how these chisels are used.

The bench chisels are essentially butt chisels, which gets the hands closer to the work for better balance. These chisels receive a hoop on the handle as they are used with a gennou, a small hammer with a fine balance, rather than pushed by hand. The use of the gennou creates a high level of precision by directing the chopping action. 

There are also paring chisels, referred to as slicks. These also have shorter blades, but the handles are elongated, which creates a long, tall chisel. The length is used to obtain fine adjustments in angle when paring.

Bench chisels (used for dovetailing) ...




Slicks ...




Gennou ...




Regards from Perth

Derek
Articles on furniture building, shop made tools and tool reviews at http://www.inthewoodshop.com
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#26
  Re: Japanese Chisels - Why? by Belle City Woodworking (I look at a lot of s...)
Wow........Sounds like I have been missing something not trying these. Thank you again to everyone for your detailed responses.
Formerly known as John's Woodshop
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#27
  Re: Japanese Chisels - Why? by Belle City Woodworking (I look at a lot of s...)
Anyone have any experience with these:




Okyo Japanese Chisel Set 6-piece - Fujikawa

Japanese Woodworker Okyo Chisel Set

Thanks again for all the help!

John
Formerly known as John's Woodshop
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#28
  Re: Japanese Chisels - Why? by Belle City Woodworking (I look at a lot of s...)
No opinion on the set, but I would suggest buying one or two better grades to try.
Waiting to grow up beyond being just a member
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#29
  Re: RE: Japanese Chisels - Why? by Tony Z (No opinion on the se...)
(06-15-2018, 11:23 AM)Tony Z Wrote: No opinion on the set, but I would suggest buying one or two better grades to try.

Any recommendations?  Links?

Thanks!
John
Formerly known as John's Woodshop
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#30
  Re: Japanese Chisels - Why? by Belle City Woodworking (I look at a lot of s...)
I agree with Tony. Don't buy a set. With a set, you'll spend money for sizes you won't use much. Better to spend the money on better quality. Good Japanese chisels are expensive because they are hand crafted and a lot of work goes into making one. The Okyo set you pictured is approximately $120 for six chisels - or $20.00 each. I've never used one of those chisels, but my bet is that they are bottom-of-the-barrel quality wise. I would hate too see you start off with low quality chisels and miss the delight of working with really good ones. A ball park starting price for a good user-quality Japanese chisel is about $50, and they go up from there. Pick two or three useful sizes in a good brand and add to them as you need more. After a while you'll have a set of really nice chisels.

Everybody has a favorite maker. I have two: Matsumura (Japan Woodworker) and Chutaro Imai (special Order). There are many others and users on this forum can make recommendations and tell you where to get them. My suggestion would be to scroll through the Japan Woodworker site and look at the Matsumura bench chisels or his cabinet chisels (my favorite for precise work). They are readily available and they are nice chisels.
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