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Buying Japanese chisels #27760 12/09/11 11:03 PM
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treizea Offline OP
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I was recently at a tool fair in Miki, Japan, and was shopping for chisels. Got a few chisels and after buying a slick, kind of noticed a guy who went from store store checking out slicks. He looked like a pro, and kept going to the same store and finally bought two slicks that were twice as much as I paid for mine. They looked the same to me.

I am new to timber framing and tools, so what should one look for when buying chisels?

I also noticed that some chisels look like they are made with "black steel" and others with white steel ( looked like stainless steel). The white steel seems to be more expensive is it correct? Why?

If the white steel is harder, can it still be sharpened with water stones?

Sharpening is also an art that I would love to master.

Serge

Last edited by treizea; 12/09/11 11:10 PM.
Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: treizea] #27767 12/12/11 07:59 AM
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Cecile en Don Wa Offline
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Hello,

If you are still there you can better be on the look out for items you can get that are not so readily available outside of Japan. Second hand chouna and ono for example. There is also a much wider range of saw choice there than what you will be able to find once you are away.
Blue paper and white paper steels simply refer to make-up of the metal used for the cutting edge rather than an indication of appearance and whether you mean artificial or natural water stones, either are compatible for sharpening both. And you are right, sharpening as conceived of in Japan is closer to an art.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff

Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #27776 12/13/11 04:08 AM
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Chris Hall Offline
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Serge,

you are confusing the names a little bit. The 'black' and 'white' steel you describe are surface finishes and do not associate to quality of the chisel. The differences in prices you are seeing is more a case of looking at a small sample size of tools. There are some very high quality chisels which have the blackened finish.

As for white and blue 'paper' steels, as Don noted there is no visual difference between them. The word 'paper' refers to the color of the paper in which the steels are wrapped from the mill. Hitachi is the main steel mill.

White paper steels are relatively pure with few other trace elements included. The blue paper steels have elements such are molybdenum and chromium mixed in, which increases the toughness of the steel in terms of resistance to abrasion. There are several white paper steels (among them, #1, #2, and specially smelted), and there are several different blue paper steels (among them, #1, #2, Super, and specially smelted).

There are other steels besides the ones already mentions used by Japanese tool blacksmiths, including steel from western countries.

The blue steel tends to have inherently higher resistance to dulling, however the inclusion of the other elements seems to make it less able to be sharpened to an extremely acute edge. The white steel can be sharpened to a very acute edge, but dulls more quickly than the blue. BUT! these are really generalizations, for a skilled blacksmith can manipulate the metal such to over come much of the limitation of either steel. White steel is thought of as the more difficult to forge well, and thus well made white paper steel tools can be among the more expensive. Both white and blue paper steels can be readily sharpened with water stones. White paper steel tend to be easier to sharpen, but again, it really depends upon the forging.

Finally, if you want to become good at sharpening then you need to to a lot of sharpening. I wouldn't worry about mastery.

~C

Last edited by Chris Hall; 12/13/11 04:11 AM.

My blog on carpentry practice, East and West:

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Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: Chris Hall] #27777 12/13/11 08:54 AM
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Cecile en Don Wa Offline
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Hello,

It has always struck me as an odd incongruity, the fact that these tools we buy, in part because of the aura of handmade, small scale craftsmanship coming out of the blacksmiths forge, are partially the product of the Hitachi multinational conglomeration.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff

Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #27784 12/14/11 01:21 AM
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Chris Hall Offline
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Don,

that is true! Mind you, if you are willing to pay for it, you can obtain chisels forged with steel, including sword steel, that the blacksmith has made himself. Swedish steel has become a popular option in recent years, and I imagine it is produced in a large mill as well.

~C


My blog on carpentry practice, East and West:

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Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: Chris Hall] #27786 12/14/11 08:04 AM
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Cecile en Don Wa Offline
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Hello,

So here are a few of the many cutting edge steels available for the handy blacksmith which the very excellent tool seller Dick in Germany has for sale. One problem would be finding such a blacksmith in your neighborhood with three generations of experience under his belt to weld and form the chisels then.
Tamahagane
White paper steel
Blue paper steel

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff

Last edited by Cecile en Don Wa; 12/14/11 08:10 AM.
Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #29735 10/14/12 09:23 PM
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treizea Offline OP
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Hello Cecile,

I am going to back to the tool fair soon, and I will checking for chouna, I just saw a demonstration at the Takenaka Museum this weekend, looks easy to do, but I am sure it will not be.

Take care,

Serge

Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: treizea] #29743 10/15/12 07:15 AM
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D Wagstaff Offline
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Get an extra handle, something unavailable outside of Japan.

It's not so difficult - adze work that is - after you have a whack at it.

Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: D Wagstaff] #29745 10/15/12 11:11 PM
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treizea Offline OP
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I will for sure, its the main reason I have not bough one yet, I was trying to figure if I could ever get a tree branch like this in Quebec!

Thanks,

Serge

Re: Buying Japanese chisels [Re: treizea] #29747 10/16/12 03:48 AM
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Chris Hall Offline
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If you were prepared to take a few years bending and training the right sort of branch over, you could make your own chōna handle. Not sure what the best substitute for pagoda tree wood might be however.


My blog on carpentry practice, East and West:

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