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GENERAL DISCUSSIONS => Hand Tools => Topic started by: curiousdork on May 03, 2017, 03:57 PM

Title: Japanese chisels: brands, thoughts, opinions.
Post by: curiousdork on May 03, 2017, 03:57 PM
Hey guys,

My Marples chisels suck and I'm looking into purchasing a new set.  Since I'm still relatively new to hand tools, I had some questions, for context, I'm looking at Japanese chisels:

1) Would a dovetail chisel be a better option than bench chisels?  Could dovetail chisels hold up to some light to medium hammering?

2) There are several Japanese brands that I've seen, but I'm not sure which ones I ought to go for.  Matsumura is available on Amazon but, I hear, is relatively unknown in Japan.  Is that true?  Are they good chisels?  Fujikawa is another brand as well as Koyamaichi.  Lee Valley carries Koyamaichi but at a premium (6 piece set is $450 USD).  Would Fujikawa's or Matsumura's hold up just fine?

3) Should I go for white or blue steel?  I have Sigma Power Select II stones (1000, 3000, 10K, and 13K - yes I like a mirror finish), which ones would abrade easier?

Any opinion/advice will be taken into account.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Japanese chisels: brands, thoughts, opinions.
Post by: djwong on May 08, 2017, 03:18 PM
Hey guys,

My Marples chisels suck and I'm looking into purchasing a new set.  Since I'm still relatively new to hand tools, I had some questions, for context, I'm looking at Japanese chisels:

1) Would a dovetail chisel be a better option than bench chisels?  Could dovetail chisels hold up to some light to medium hammering?
Dovetail style Japanese chisels should be fine for all but heavy pounding. I find using a 1.5 or 3mm chisel gets in all but the tightest corners.  Another way to go might be to get regular bench chisels, and skew chisels for tight corners.

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2) There are several Japanese brands that I've seen, but I'm not sure which ones I ought to go for.  Matsumura is available on Amazon but, I hear, is relatively unknown in Japan.  Is that true?  Are they good chisels?  Fujikawa is another brand as well as Koyamaichi.  Lee Valley carries Koyamaichi but at a premium (6 piece set is $450 USD).  Would Fujikawa's or Matsumura's hold up just fine?
I use Matsumura blue steel chisels and like them very much.  The ones I have are a smaller more delicate style chisel.  Edge retention is good, but I did have to change the bevel angle to near 30 degrees.  The edges were a little "chippy" at 25 degrees. I have no direct experience with them, but many people like Koyamaichi chisels.  Fujihiro chisels from Hida Tools are also very good.

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3) Should I go for white or blue steel?  I have Sigma Power Select II stones (1000, 3000, 10K, and 13K - yes I like a mirror finish), which ones would abrade easier?
I have blue steel, #1 white steel, and #2 white steel chisels. The edge retention really has more to do with the skill of the blacksmith than the steel.  White steel #1 is found in premium chisels and can take a very sharp edge.  All my mortise chisels are white steel #2.  They perform well, with a bevel angle at 35 degrees.  Blue steel may be better in more abrasive woods, but I have no personal experience. Your Sigma Power stones should be just fine with any of them.