Japanese chisel, free traditional picnic table plans - How to Do

Categories: Woodworking Plans Corner Desk | Author: admin 12.04.2013

In Japanese practice a thin high carbon steel cutting edge is forge welded onto a soft steel body. I don't actually collect decorative chisels so the pieces I have in my collection date from the early days of this company when we imported samples of Japanese tools. From the left (in the top picture and the first detail shot) three suminagashi style chisels, starting from the left, by Tasai.
In the second detail picture (and on the right of the main picture) we have a plain chisel in the middle surrounded by two chisels made from kamaji iron. While I plan an additional blog entry on decorative handles and hoops in the near future here are a few more pictures, showing some of the decorative details of the suminagashi chisels and a closeup of the twisted neck chisel by Nishiki. We will present you some of joints used in traditional Japanese joinery, tools and literature for more informations.
These dovetail chisels are hand-forged by Master Matsumura in Yoita, Niigata Province, Japan.

Here one can see the back or mirror side of the dovetail chisels in 15 mm, 30 mm and 42 mm. One can see here that the tang and grip are slightly offset, like most other Japanese chisels. This chisel was tempered after grinding, a thing difficult to do only by the most experienced masters blacksmiths. The chisel on the right is by Nishiki and has a twisted shank - an old style which Nishiki reintroduced. Although plenty of books have been published about Japanese joinery there is no quality web page about it. The blade is a laminate of White Paper Steel, the best available for a very fine cutting edge, with a backing of iron to strengthen the chisel. This is an advantage when cutting deep mortices, for instance, as one can cut much deeper than the length of the chisel blade would suggest.

In Japan where the manufacture of edge tools is still concentrated in the hands of masters who sign their work, most chisel makers have one or two decorative versions of their tools where the steel itself is the focus of the decorations.
As all the tools by a specific maker have the same cutting edge layer there is no functional reason to use a decorative chisel. If you want to build for your children and grandchildren and beyond–you might try using wood-only joinery and the best way to do it is to use traditional Japanese joinery. Tasai is considered the modern master of this technique and you can see how elegant and reserved his chisels can be.

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