LumberJocks

Difference between a good and bad Japanese chisel

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by siavosh posted 10-03-2013 04:33 PM 1277 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View siavosh's profile

siavosh

354 posts in 595 days


10-03-2013 04:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: chisel

Novice woodworker here. I have 3 Grizzly Japanese chisels, and since I’ve never tried anything else I’m wondering what’s the difference between a $15 and a $70 chisel? I spend a good amount of time sharpening them and I think they get sharp enough (?). I’m primarily restricted to pairing cuts for my joinery since I don’t want to bang on them in my apartment and get noise complaints, and it’s one of my least favorite parts of my woodworking currently: tedious, and sloppy results when chopping out waste etc. So I’m wondering how much of this poor performance/tedium is the chisel or if it’s all me. Thanks.

-- http://woodspotting.com/ -- Discover the best woodworking blogs!


7 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

7809 posts in 2372 days


#1 posted 10-03-2013 04:43 PM

Grizzly’s basic Japan chisels are “reform” chisels, for remodeling work.

In paring cuts, most chisels will stay sharp for awhile, but you
have to get them really sharp to get the best results. If
you aren’t able to shave hair off your arm at minimum,
they are not sharp enough to pare well.

It’s in chopping cuts that a chisel shows its quality by the
edge holding up.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3312 posts in 1378 days


#2 posted 10-03-2013 04:44 PM

I can’t really speak to the differnce in Japanese chisels specifically, but I can offer my opinion on chisels in general when it comes to price. The difference is in the details. In the higher end tools generally have better steel (hold edges longer), better geometry (get into tighter spots), Flatter backs (more accurate in use, or less time spent lapping on the first go), and better balance overall (less fatiging to use).

You can get by just fine with some REALLY cheap chisels, but when you look at the whole package in relation to the amount of time they can cost you, it’s may be worth shelling out.

As far as poor performance, its BOTH you and the chisel to speak in general when you are starting out. Getting a good tool just helps you eliminate one variable.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2933 posts in 1967 days


#3 posted 10-03-2013 05:08 PM

I only own one Japanese chisel and it is not the best available. I would compare Japanese chisels to Japanese knives. You can get a Japanese knife for a few dollars or hundreds of dollars. The difference is the expensive knife is hand made by a skilled craftsman using centuries old knife making techniques, like laminating many layers of steel together. The same may be true of chisels. The Japanese seem to have mastered the art of making fine edged tools. Price would be the best indication of quality.

When I worked in Japan, I watched a master woodworker using a giant wood plane with a sharp blade make paper thin shavings that you could see through. These shavings were not scrap. They were used to form laminations. The blade had to be incredibly sharp to do that.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5201 posts in 1301 days


#4 posted 10-03-2013 05:25 PM

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/25043

The above thread will help in your journey on chisels.

Which brand of chisels to you have?

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 762 days


#5 posted 10-03-2013 05:33 PM

I’m wondering what’s the difference between a $15 and a $70 chisel?
$55 and the size of the marketing guy’s annual bonus.

But seriously…. I’m primarily restricted to pairing cuts for my joinery since I don’t want to bang on them in my apartment and get noise complaints, vs. tedious, and sloppy results when chopping out waste etc. So I’m wondering how much of this poor performance/tedium is the chisel or if it’s all me.

So what are you doing with these chisels? First you say only paring (and it’s paring with no i. Pairing is what you do with wine and cheese, and for that I recommend Velveeta with a good carton of Ripple.) then you say you have problems chopping. Two different actions require two different bevel angles on the chisels. Get one low and long enough for paring, and you’ll turn the edge into a burrito if you try and pound out big chunks with it. Put a stouter angle on it for chopping, and you’ll need a 5 pound sledge to get it started on the simplest of paring cuts. You can’t chop down a redwood with a scalpel, and you can’t perform heart surgery with a hatchet. (Well you can, but they won’t invite you back to that operating room anytime soon.)
Decide what you’re going to use it for, sharpen it to the best angle for that purpose, and stick to that purpose. Get a razor edge on it and practice in real wood – something decent like cherry – because the wood is a third variable you haven’t considered. If you’re working with modern pine, planted a couple of years ago and force-fed hormones to get it to market size as quickly as possible, then you might as well be trying to get clean cuts in a damp kitchen sponge and it doesn’t matter if you are the chisel zen-master with a pair of $10,000 ginsu chisels sharp enough to split atoms, you’re still going to get cr@ppy results.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View siavosh's profile

siavosh

354 posts in 595 days


#6 posted 10-04-2013 06:24 AM

Thanks everyone, learned quite a bit here.

@waho6o9: Thanks for the link, also I’ve got Grizzly chisels, which thanks to @Loren now know are classified as ‘reform chisels’. Here’s a link: http://www.grizzly.com/products/G7093

@JustJoe: Haha, well put. I misspoke, I ‘pare away my joinery waste’...no chopping. And I’ve been mostly working with ‘sponge wood’, so I think I’ll pay more attention on how my chisels work on better stock. That said, I’ll look into the bevel angles. Thanks for the tips.

-- http://woodspotting.com/ -- Discover the best woodworking blogs!

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2377 posts in 1607 days


#7 posted 10-04-2013 02:42 PM

I have a few of the more expensive Japanese chisels; they seem to sharpen to a sharper edge and stay sharper for way longer than my regular chisels.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase