Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What, still Christmas???- Tool haul 3/12/2014 some Japanese chisels

Yes, more chisels.

There is something about chisels. For me they seem to be the epitome of a woodworking "TOOL". While it is true that a chisel is nothing more than a sharpened wedge used to cleave cellulose fibers......Ohhhhh, the refinement!

Here is one from the bargain basket. It looks very nice from this angle.

Ahhhh, bent! Very nicely finished, though. This is not a "cheap" nomi.

Ouch! The hard steel hagane back has been broken. You can see the crack running perpendicular to the primary axis, towards the right of the pic. The back has been sharpened AND used since the break, as you can see from the (otherwise) excellent shape of the ura.

Laminated blades warp to the hard steel side during the hardening/quenching process. The blacksmith forges a REVERSE bend, knowing that this distortion will occur, but it is a very delicate thing..... Too much? Not enough? 

This chisel MAY have been broken while trying to straighten the blade, or it might just be attributable to a careless user. My money is on the user. Japanese chisels get used HARD (using steel hammers to strike! Not wooden mallets, like us westerners are taught.) and I bet someone was levering chips a BIT too hard while chopping a mortise.

Further evidence of a high quality tool, the handle was made by Kane-ei and has the stamp to prove it. For kanna, the "best" wooden bodies are made by Inomoto. The best chisels? Kane-ei. Score 1-0.

GASP! A new chisel, a shiny one! You know how a picture can differ from reality? I thought that this chisel would be a polished black. It is actually more bright, a burnished steel.

Stickers, an Oiyamashi. These retail for about $90-100. 

The urasuki LOOKS like it is forge black, but it is actually just dyed gun blue. The tool has some interesting curves to the shape and I was very excited to get it.

The shape is a flattened rod, a low profile, to get into tight areas.

A nice boxwood (gumi) handle, heart center for strength. 

The reality. A good chisel, but...... kinda cheap, if you know what I mean. The corners are a bit harsh, lines are slightly off, as is the makers stamp. It feels slightly light in weight. The handle is good wood, but dyed yellow and underneath the sticker? A small knothole, hidden. The neck is awkwardly machine swaged, with no file finish, just a slight bulge. A mostly machine/factory tool, built with a certain lack of integrity. I would be VERY bummed to have paid retail, but I got an extremely good deal ($25). It is a strong chisel. I have sharpened it and it's HARD! We'll see about the edge holding ability. Score 1-1.

The reason that I am doing these "Show-and-tell" sessions, is to point out what I look for when buying USED tools. Sometimes this works out well, sometimes not as well as you might like. This chisel is an excellent example. If I was buying my first Japanese chisel, paying retail prices from a catalog, say Japan Woodworker, I might be thinking "WTF?!" Then again, from what I have seen of the new, catalog sourced Japanese tools...... This might be par for the course. I will stick to older, used tools. 

Man! Talk about on knit-picky! The bummers are MORE than offset by..... this guy. Another cheapo ($8) bargain bin chisel.

A 282x24mm paring chisel. Well, maybe not REALLY a paring chisel, but it IS missing the striking ring (kasura, I think), so I'll call it a paring chisel. I think that the ring fell off, but someone still used a hammer to strike...... Sigh.

The back side is where the nastiness shows. 

There is some deep rust right at the cutting edge, and it looks like someone slipped while grinding the back flat. There is a good sized gouge, halfway up the back. This might cause some problems in 10 years, or so. 

It has a REALLY thin profile, very handy. This style chisel is on my must-have, "Didn't-know-that-I-needed-one-till-I got-one" list.

So thin..... that someone bent it! Yes, another bent chisel! You can see a slight curve to the blade. 

It is usable as it is, but I would prefer it to be flatter.

It is an ouchi (I think). The paired leaves are faintly visible and it has a nicely curved shape. The chamfered edge flows beautifully into the shaft. This chisel was formed with intent.

Another gumi handle, this time NOT dyed. Heart center (too bad about the hammer abuse, though).

In the hand, this chisel just FEELS like a quality tool. The steel is heavy, for its relative thinness, and the handle is thick, yet fits my hand well. This tool shows promise, potential....

I'm gonna fix it up, right away. No waiting.

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Like all of us, I am figuring this out as I go, so when you see something that is incorrect or flat out wrong (and you will!), let me know. This is a learning process. Real people and names, please. Constructive comments and questions are very welcome, but hate speak/politics are not! Life (get one!) is too short.

Thanks, Jason