Japanese Chisels

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Forum topic by teenagewoodworker posted 03-22-2008 04:19 PM 2252 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4007 days

03-22-2008 04:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question chisel

I’m looking for some nice Japanese Chisels because my first ones cant hold an edge for more than 1 hour if I’m using them a good amount. what i am looking for is a good set of maybe 3 or 4 to use or somewhere that i can order them one at a time so i can get a nice all around Japanese Chisel so the one i use the most will actually hold an edge while i use it. so i wanted to know if anyone knew any place where i could order them from. i searched it on Google but there are so many that i don’t know where to start. thanks for your help!

15 replies so far

View Woodshopfreak's profile


389 posts in 3981 days

#1 posted 03-22-2008 04:52 PM

I would just look at them at your local woodcraft.

-- Tyler, Illinois

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4113 days

#2 posted 03-22-2008 05:32 PM

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4007 days

#3 posted 03-22-2008 08:52 PM

thanks rikkor thats a pretty good site.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4227 days

#4 posted 03-22-2008 08:53 PM

That’s the best place I have found.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4022 days

#5 posted 03-23-2008 12:40 AM

Here is an informative blog entry about them.

-- Eric at

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4235 days

#6 posted 03-23-2008 02:04 AM

Check out the chisel selection at Hida Tool...

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View macpiper's profile


56 posts in 4026 days

#7 posted 03-23-2008 06:53 AM

and a japanese chisel talk wouldn’t be complete without mentioning iida san and so san both are quite reputable as well.

View Earle Wright's profile

Earle Wright

121 posts in 3959 days

#8 posted 03-27-2008 11:05 PM

Most Japan-type chisels are meant for softer woods than Western-type chisels. They are very hard and brittle. When sharpened to the same angle as Western chisels and used on woods such as Walnut, Cherry, and Maple, these chisels will very soon start to fracture along the edge. Use a 10X or greater loupe to observe this.

The success of the cut results in the combination of several factors: the hardness of the steel, the sharpened blade angle, and the specie of wood being cut. In typical Western woods as described above, there is not enough steel to support the very hard edge of the Japan chisel.

I suggest you purchase Lie-Nielsen chisels or buy older Stanley chisels from eBay for day-to-day chisel work such as dovetails. Then sharpen your Japan chisels to a 60 degree blade angle and use them on highly-figured wood to avoid tearout. You can also use them as paring chisels if you don’t own paring chisels dedicated to that task.

When sharpened to a 60 degree blade angle, there is sufficient steel supporting the very hard blade edge. You will probably find that they cut very well and hold their edge very well at this blade angle. One precaution: don’t hollow-grind the Japan blade when sharpening to 60 degrees. Flat grind it or keep it on stones (lots of work!!) to obtain the sixty degrees.

The Lie-Nielsen chisels are expensive, but worth every penny. I don’t know of another currently manufactured chisel that can match them. And, when they are RAZOR sharp, they’re an absolute joy to use.

-- Earle Wright, Lenoir City, Tennessee

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4007 days

#9 posted 03-28-2008 12:16 AM

thanks Earle I’ve been looking into those lie Nielson’s too just i wanted to get some opinions on and places where i could check out Japanese Chisels. i think i just might have to go with the Lie Nielson’s. Also PROUDLY MADE IN AMERICA you don’t see that much any more!

View grumpycarp's profile


257 posts in 3984 days

#10 posted 03-28-2008 12:19 AM

I vehemently disagree with all the above ( the Earle Wright post) with the exception that the Lie-Neilsen company does indeed make excellent products.

View Earle Wright's profile

Earle Wright

121 posts in 3959 days

#11 posted 03-28-2008 06:56 AM

To teenagewoodworker,

I have a set of good quality Japan chisels that have not yet been reground, and I’d be happy to send you a few to use for a while if you’d like. I also have an extra 10X/20X loupe you could borrow to inspect the edges as you use them in various woods. That would save you the expense of buying them to check out. If you didn’t mind a little postage back and forth, I would be happy to then regrind and sharpen the chisels as I have described above and return them to you for similar testing at the 60 degree angle.

I’d like to encourage you, as a younger woodworker, to build your experience on personally trying various tools to satisfy yourself of their strengths and weaknesses. Also, there are a variety of “ask the expert” sites, in addition to this site, where you can direct your questions to acknowledged leaders and teachers in this field.

I admire your interest and inquisitiveness. Good luck, and let me know if I can ship you the chisels.

-- Earle Wright, Lenoir City, Tennessee

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4399 days

#12 posted 03-28-2008 06:36 PM

reminds me of the blog that was posted some time ago with a microscopic look at the steel.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 4127 days

#13 posted 03-28-2008 07:21 PM


You might be asking too much from your chisels if you expect them not to get blunt if you use them for one hour. I find that, when cutting dovetails, I have to stop once midway and resharpen my chisels. Luckily, all that is needed is a touchup on a black Arkansas stone, 30 seconds/chisel. Even very good chisels need to be resharpened, probably more often than you think. By touching them up on a stone or a strop after 30 minutes of work, you do not have to spend much time on sharpening and keep the chisels cutting well.

If you indeed have Japanese chisels, I doubt they are bad since Japanese chisels are harder to manufacture to the point that it is not worth building bad ones. People that are likely to be tricked to buy inferior chisels are unlikely to know the difference between western and Japanese chisels. I would say touch them up while you work, and you will be much happier.


-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4007 days

#14 posted 03-28-2008 09:32 PM

thanks alin. just to say that my chisels really are bad. i bought 3 new for 6 dollars. i said one hour but that was the whole amount of time. i should have been more specific. after about 3 or 4 shavings were taken i had a dull chisel. after an hour if had a big dull spot across the entire chisel

View JimiThing's profile


22 posts in 2823 days

#15 posted 09-05-2012 05:28 AM

Basically EVERYTHING posted here about japanese chisels is WRONG… the fact that they dont hold up to american hardwoods is asinine, they hold up about twice as long in hard maple… not to mention mahogany… and to the comment that says they don’T make “bad” japanese chisels… ok…. go to grizzly’s website… or look at Iyoroi chisels. All are “bad” and are made cheaply… If you any questions about japanese chisels, don’t take anything you read in this thread as fact…. because virtually none of it even resembles that. sorry.

-- Got Wood?

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