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First Impressions of the 10 piece set of Japanese Chisels from Grizzly

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Review by David Kirtley posted 05-26-2010 07:35 AM 5724 views 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
First Impressions of the 10 piece set of Japanese Chisels from Grizzly No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

(Sorry for the picture, it is Grizzly’s picture of these chisels. I would have taken my own but it’s late and I didn’t realize that a review required a picture to post. Mine look just like the ones in the picture.)

Well, I have been debating a long time and finally went ahead and ordered the 10 piece Japanese chisel set from Grizzly. I had read other reviews from elsewhere and I figured that I would like to try them out. I have always wanted to try out some Japanese Chisels.

This is not a bad thing, but the first thing I though when I opened the box was:

Wow. They are a lot smaller chisel than I always thought they looked in the pictures. Just to give a little perspective, most of my other chisels are old socket chisels ranging from big up to slick range so these are going to fill a different niche. They are about the same size as a western bench chisel. Comparable to an old Stanley 750 socket chisel. About 5 in long blade with a 4 inch handle so about 9 inches overall length.

They came fairly ready, but need sharpening before use. That was expected. As delivered, the edges were nice and square to the length.They look like they are sharpened to about 400 grit range. They clearly spent the effort to flatten the back and the grinding is done quite well. A couple minutes each on a water stone will have them ready to go.

Some people have complained that the hoops were not set traditionally. No biggie. They will set well enough in use. As is, it looks like they were stuck on while the lacquer on the handles was wet but they are well sized for the handles.

Overall, I would rate them as an excellent value. They appear to be a lot higher quality than anything near them in their price range. A huge step above the big box home improvement fare. Definitely not something relegated to opening paint cans. They will be very nice for paring and seem to be hefty enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to take a mallet to them for some heavier chopping. I would probably reach for something else if I were chopping and prying out big deep mortises. Besides, if I were chopping out a mortise, I would not go for something with beveled edges anyway.

The only reasons I did not give them a 5 star rating:

The sizes of them are a bit odd. Not metric odd, English odd. They were pretty obviously shooting for English sizing. The 1/8 and 1/4 were right on. The rest were consistently about 1/32 undersized except for the largest which was about 1/16 under sized.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/




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David Kirtley

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17 comments so far

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PurpLev

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#1 posted 05-26-2010 03:20 PM

nice. thanks for the review. I didn’t even know Grz sold those type of things.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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chewbuddy13

150 posts in 2037 days


#2 posted 05-26-2010 04:28 PM

What do these cost? I’ve been looking to expand my chisel collection.

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a1Jim

112936 posts in 2329 days


#3 posted 05-26-2010 04:31 PM

Thanks for the review . I have a set and I agree.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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David Kirtley

1285 posts in 1750 days


#4 posted 05-26-2010 05:32 PM

Scottymann:

They are $140 for the 10 pc. set. $14-$20 a piece if bought individually. Most places are about double that for similar chisels. That is why I was kind of nervous about picking them up. The prices go way up from there when you get into the boutique chisels of this style.

I figured that I would like them from other reviews but I am pretty spoiled to good chisels. Some of the mystical kind of things that they get into with Japanese chisels is (IMO) bunk but laminiated steel chisels are a serious step up. It allows the cutting edge to be really hard and the softer metal makes them a lot tougher and less prone to chipping and cracking. It is not something that is exclusive to Japanese chisels. Just about all the old western style chisels were made that way too. My only complaint about the old ones that I have is that they take some time to get sharpened. I don’t even want to think about the time that it takes to lap the back of the blades.

Thankfully, they stay sharp a long time too.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

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David Kirtley

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#5 posted 05-26-2010 09:59 PM

Skarp:

Hey, that’s why we are comparing notes :) Quality control is the biggest issue when buying bargain tools. The materials are about the same across the board. Sometimes you can get something that is really great and turn around and the next one in the bin is a piece of junk.

If mine turn out funky, I will just pull out the torch and harden and re-temper them again. Its real easy. Putting up with a poorly tempered one would drive me nuts.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

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TopamaxSurvivor

15088 posts in 2428 days


#6 posted 05-27-2010 02:45 AM

Thanks for the insight guys

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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bench_dogg

63 posts in 1889 days


#7 posted 05-27-2010 04:12 AM

I have this set as well and agree with all points above. I have noticed the sizing is a bit off on my set as well. I did chip one, the only chisel I have ever chipped. Since doing that, I use these for chopping only and am careful not to ‘pry’ with them.

The only thing I can compare them to are my HD Marples, which I believe are softer steel and ground to a lower angle (25 vs 30 if I remember correctly). The marples are easier to sharpen but the Grizzly chisels seem to hold an edge a bit better.

-bd

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velo_tom

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#8 posted 05-27-2010 12:19 PM

I’ve thought about eventually getting a set of Japanese chisels but will likely have to pay more for what I want. The Japanese stayed in a feudal period longer than the west and developed a highly refined sword technology.

Mid eighteen hundreds when the Samurai were no longer allowed to wear their swords the highly skilled sword smiths were out of a job. Many started making bladed tools such as chisels. The secret of the swords success and the good chisels too is the multiple tempering process that produces a very hard cutting edge supported by a less hard, less brittle back.

The dual temper produces a line that can be seen when viewed at the correct angle. I inherited one of the swords from my father who brought it back as a WWII war trophy. I’d like to eventually have chisels that display the same temper lines but will likely have to pay quite a bit more to get that.

-- There's no such thing as mistakes, just design changes.

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b2rtch

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#9 posted 05-27-2010 12:36 PM

I have a question about Japanese chisels: how do you get flat back and a straight cutting edge with the hollow grinding in the center?
I was looking at a set not long ago and I notice that the hollow grinding started almost right at the existing sharp edge.
What do you do when you reach the hollow grinding after few sharpening?
What then happen to the cutting edge?
Thank you.
Bert

-- Bert

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David Kirtley

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#10 posted 05-27-2010 04:48 PM

Bert:

The hollow does not go all the way out to the edge. The sides of the hollow are like rails on the sides of the back surface.They guide the chisel as well as if it were flat. The hollow is there just to make it easier to flatten the back. You only have a small fraction of the material to remove to get the perimeter flat as opposed to having the grind the entire surface. When you sharpen it enough that there is not enough metal to form the back of the blade near the edge, you whack it on the other side and dent it out to form a new surface and then flatten again.

Rambling about high end Japanese chisels:

When you look at the more expensive Japanese chisels, it is not the tool steel that makes them pricey. Modern O1 or such carbon steel is much cheaper, higher quality, and more consistent than what they ever used historically to make cutting tools. The wrought iron component is what makes them more expensive. They are recovering and recycling old wrought iron to make up the body of the tools. It is more malleable and tougher than what is commonly available today.

Originally, the laminated construction was probably started to conserve steel but they found that making a composite of different metals actually improved the product and took the best properties of each. Hard steel sharpens well but is brittle. Soft iron doesn’t hold an edge well but is more shock resistant. The modern steels are wonderful in some respects but until fairly recently, they did not have the toughness of the composites. Some of the artisan smiths figured out how to get good results but basically, they kept it secret to themselves which brought about some of the romantic and mystical stories of the metals. Modern metallurgy has reverse engineered the techniques. Wootz or Damascus Steel and such are pretty common now (but expensive). It does the same lamination idea but on a microscopic level. What made the Japanese swords so special was the differential tempering of the steel and the composite construction. They created a very hard and sharp edge with an incredibly tough body. The Arabs did similar things with their Damascus blades. All of finest metalwork such as the Japanese swords and the like could be consistently made as well or better on a mass scale than were ever made before using modern techniques and metallurgy. There is just not enough of a market for it.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

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b2rtch

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#11 posted 05-27-2010 06:10 PM

dkirtley, thank you for your reply, I understand the purpose of the hollow grinding. Just about two week ago I was taking a class at my local woodcraft and I was looking at Japanese chisels we other students. On these particular chisels I was looking at it was probably no more that 3 to 4 mm (less than a 1/4”) between the cutting edge of the chisel and the beginning of the hollow grinding, even the manager of this store admitted that it was really not much to work with.
I read your explanation on how to form more grinding surface to sharpen, interesting.
Bert

-- Bert

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Tim Dahn

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#12 posted 05-27-2010 11:06 PM

dkirtley, b2rtch, I agree with the hollow back making it easier to flatten. But I don’t think you “you whack it on the other side and dent it out to form a new surface” When you flatten the back of the chisel, the hollow area will shorten creating a larger flat area at the tip.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

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David Kirtley

1285 posts in 1750 days


#13 posted 05-27-2010 11:37 PM

Timbo:

Yeah, that is pretty extreme but I used to see the little hammer that was made precisely for doing that. Generally, it will never come to that. As the back gets ground down in the normal sharpening process, the flat section will migrate down the back of the chisel. About the only time you would have to resort to the whack-it method is when working out a badly chipped blade.

It really does not involve that much bending. A few thousandths of an inch goes a long way.

From Wikipedia:

“As the edge is sharpened down to the rim of the hollow, the edge can then be ‘tapped-out’ (ura-dashi), a process where a pointed hammer is used to depress the ha-gane downward slightly along the bevel of the blade. When the blade’s back is re-flattened after ura-dashi, the hollow is re-established; thus the hollow acts as a sort of gauge for sharpening as a means of prolonging the life of the thin piece of cutting steel as long as possible.”

From Google Image Search

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

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b2rtch

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#14 posted 05-27-2010 11:38 PM

Timbo, I agree with you, I find the technic of whacking the front quite strange but at the same time your explanation does not seems to be right either, to me, as what ever you do the hollow remains.So how to get a flat back again?

I goggled the question, I found many other people asking the same question but no affirmative answer.
It seems that when you reach the hollow you are done with this chisel.
Someone else suggest hammering the front. But then the front is all screwed up and what about the inner core of hard steel?
Seems strange.

-- Bert

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Tim Dahn

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#15 posted 05-28-2010 03:18 AM

Ok I stand corrected…Somewhat. Read on from “Tools for working wood”

In theory, if you grind the tool’s edge, you may have a sitiuation in which the back must be hammered out to fill in the hollow at the edge. But with normal usage, as long as you hone the backs when you hone the bevel, you should be fine and never have to tap out the hollow.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

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