I am looking to buy several quality Japanese chisels made from white
steel. I have decided to skip the Blue Marples and want something
better for use in making cabinets, boxes, and mortises. After seeing
so many brands and prices, I'm confused. Is an $85 chisel that much
better than a $45 one? I recall reading an article somewhere and
can't find it again (looking through stacks of Fine Working and
American Woodworker magazines and surfing the Internet). Can anyone
point me to an evaluation study/report on the various chisel brands?
Does anyone use Miyanaga chisels?
For wider than 1/2 Inch consider those:
They are cheap, but the one that i tried is *really* nice, it takes an
edge well and keeps it. THey are a bit unusual in shape, but if that
is not a deterrent for you, go for them.
If you need something wider consider
They look crappy in the picture but they are also extremely good.
I suggest looking at the traditional Japanese chisels at the Lee Valley site,
I believe Leonard Lee will have made a sound decision.
I read "Bench Chisel Challenge" article, American Woodworker oct. '95
#47 in which two Japanese chisels and several others are compared, all
were cut-up into peices and RC hardness tested and chemically analyzed,
and showed that the Matsumura white cutting steel is 'plain steel' with no
other hardening element added, only they are hardened to rc60, laminated
to mild steel. As far as edge holding they were the best in the review.
Also in the review were Japan Woodworker's own brand, did not hold an
edge as well/long and hardened to rc62*, alloyed tool steel laminated to
mild steel with no carbides. Footprints, Sorby's and Stanley 900 series
(current) were the worst in edge holding with the current Buck Bros.
above them by 1/2 dot, plain steel with no carbides, rc55. Hirsch chisels
have an rc60 of alloyed tool steel, 2nd in edge holding, good chisels.
As far as prices, you can see why because of all the different types
of steel and levels of hardening. The Footprints have alloyed tool steel
yet they are hardened to only rc54, the lowest in edge holding. This is
better steel than the Matsumura ones! All these balances are why prices
add up to what they are. Blue steel from Japan is the second best on
Earth (best as a cutting edge on Earth), to damascus steel (a method),
which is used as the laminated backing on the most expensive from
Japan. The general japanese design is excellent because it is a combination
socket and tang attached to the handle, the only other maker doing this
is Harris tools, Costa Rica, using harder wood than oak, and hardening
a proper alloyed tool steel to rc58-60, they should be excellent.
..hope this helps,
I am THRILLED with the Hirsch chisels I've gotten from Lee Valley.
They take and hold an excellent edge. If I had bought these first, I
could have saved a whole bunch of money on CRAP.
Word has it that they come from the same factory as Two Cherries.
Don't know about the rest of you guys, but about 15 years ago I bought a set
of "house brand" chisels from Woodcraft. They were relatively inexpensive
and hold an edge better than the Stanley chisels I started with. "Made in
Holland" is etched on the blades.
I'd recommend buying an inexpensive set of "hardware store" chisels, learn
how to use them and how to sharpen them. Next year you'll know exactly what
you want from a chisel, and can buy a real good set accordingly. Keep the
old ones around for those ugly jobs you wouldn't risk damaging a good chisel
I agree rj, and a good idea on that are the sandvick / bahco firmer chisels commonly
available in OSH stores (orchard supply hardware). Good swedish steel with ferrules
and steel hoops on beech handles. I also read a review in which they are well liked.
I know you asked for Japaneses chisels but you should consider the new
set from Lie-nielsen:
Scroll down till you find the chisels.
$45 versus $85? Probably not much difference. Not as much difference
as say, a $25 versu $45 -- there's some sort of law of diminishing
returns at work....
Try about $100 for steel that knows who its parents were.
I use the commonplace oak-handled Iyori for bench use (maybe $25),
have no use for their ebony handled "upgrades" and have a few chisels
with good hand-forged itame hada (woodgrain lamination) ($100 and up).
The biggest difference between them is probably the way the backs are
hollowed - ground at the cheap end, forged for better quality.
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