Buying old chisels that haven't seen much action, then getting them ready for use, has turned into a favorite form of relaxation for me. If they haven't been used, they haven't been mucked up, most likely. This makes for a fast and fun(?) setup.
Junji sold me this nice old 36mm Toyohisa chisel. I set this guy up a few days ago.
There isn't much to show here, really. These chisels required..... not much. A good cleaning with a cleaner/degreaser (409 works well, and won't dissolve your skin, haha!), followed by a scrub with #0000 steel wool removes all of the grime and light oxidation. I have shown those processes often enough that I thought to spare you the details (or just forgot to take photos?).
On probably 75% of the chisels that I buy, I need to drive the chisel hoop (the kasura) further down on the handle . This chisel was no exception.
I put shellac on my tools to keep them looking somewhat clean. Shellac, varnish, and polyurethane (I draw the line here) are all film forming finishes, and might not be the best choice for tools that get handled much. Oil finishes might be better, but they tend to go black over time, and often get sticky as well. Shellac is quick to apply, easy to renew, and simple to remove. I would prefer the handles to stay unfinished, but they get so nasty looking..... Vanity wins!
The ura side of this chisel was in really good (original) condition, so I get to shape things as I wish. Establishing and maintaining a nice shape to the urasuki is part of the fun for me.
Wow, I need to get a life, haha!
This is a high quality, older chisel. It has the stamp of the Tokyo chisel makers union, long since disbanded.
This is a 9mm by the same maker.
The ura side is looking nice. The better quality tools often are easier to setup, this being no exception.
Part of what I find so enjoyable about the initial setup, is that you are obligated to do your best work because the results will be visible for the life of the tool. The ideal isn't to do this as quickly as possible, but to do your best.
The bevel is not done yet..... saving some fun for another day.
A small chisel, short (6.5 inches, more or less) and narrow (3mm).
The handle is rosewood, presumably. It's so dark and dense that I can't be certain. The kasura needed to be set down more fully, because the dense wood doesn't compress as well as oak..... and they never seem to be set very well, anyways (the kasura/handle ring thingy).
No urasuki remaining on this guy, unfortunately. There is some rust pitting.
The back was fairly flat, but lately I've been trying to get my chisels VERY flat. I have this one most of the way done, but I need to check something else first.
So far, only artificial stones have been used, so I haven't gotten a look at the lamination line yet.
I've got a feeling about this chisel. I *think* that this chisel will have a very thin and delicate hagane, and as I'm working on this chisel, it reminds me of another chisel that I was working on a while back.
I bought a chisel quite a while ago, and initially it was one of those "What the hell was I thinking?!" kind of purchases.
As received, the chisel was.... Small. Also dry, dirty (The handle was so black from iron staining that I couldn't tell what type of wood it was made from. I had originally bought it thinking that the handle was ebony, haha!) and slightly corroded. But mostly it was small, and though I thought it a little bit, um.... un-manly, I tried it a few times and found it to actually be a fun tool to use. These little chisels fit right into my hand, and so small that you almost forget that you are holding them. The control is phenomenal! It's as easy to use as pointing your finger, and really feels as though it is an EXTENSION of your finger (if your finger was a super-sharp laser beam type of finger, haha!).
Anyway, I prepped this little chisel, and though I never finished giving it the full-on sharpening treatment, I did remember one impression in particular. The hagane seemed rather thin.
As I began cleaning up the little chisel, I figured out that it was a bit unusual and kind of nice.
I think that the style is called suminagashi (ink pattern), and it is similar to the more familiar mokume (wood grain), which looks like the even more familiar Damascus.
None of this was evident when I bought the tool, but only revealed itself after lots of scrubbing, de-rusting, chemical etching, and blackening.
I was surprised.
The ura side isn't too messed up, thankfully.
The ferule is hand forged, and a little rough, with lots of character.
The top ring is similar.
And here's that thin hagane that was previously only a hint.
Very thin for a chisel, the lamination line is clear and distinct. The upturned corners are very crisp and even. I was hoping for a ren-tetsu jigane, but you can't have 'em all, I suppose.
The blacksmith who forged this tool was very skilled, and it is these types of details that I want to incorporate in my own work. I've got a long way to go though.
OK, back to the other chisel. The point that I wanted to remind myself of, was that before I get too carried away, I need to polish the bevel a bit. That reveals the steel lamination line (at least if you use the right stones).
It IS thin, as expected. If I make the back of this chisel (obsessively, compulsively) completely flat, I run the risk of someday running out of the hard steel hagane. It's flat enough as it is, so I give it a rest.
Yeah, I know...... Lots of words, but not saying much, mostly just showing off some pretty tools.
I suppose that if there *had* to be a point to this post, it would be to check the lamination before zealously flattening the back of a Japanese chisel. Sometimes the nice tools use very thin laminations, and if you go too far.....
This is a great chisel, an Umehiro 48mm tataki-nomi, and it's a brute.
A small problem, though. The hagane is too thin at the corner on the right.
This corner doesn't hold an edge very well....Let me clarify. The corner itself is great, but that little spot where the soft iron intrudes? That little spot dents almost immediately. It's like having a permanent chip in the blade.
I am sure that if I ground the blade back about 4-5mm, I would be back to an area that had sufficient steel to hold an edge. I am loath to do that, and would rather put up with the perma-nick, rather than shorten the life of the chisel by 5 years.
Still, it has a nice backside.
The hollow was perfectly shaped, and the various users over the years haven't messed it up.
This is a high quality tool, and the blacksmith forged this blade with care. The little problem with the corner wouldn't be an issue if the previous users had done ura-dashi on this blade.
I enjoy ura-dashi so much, that I do my chisels, too.