Well made, razor-sharp, durable chisels that hold an edge well and are easy to resharpen.
Unlike Western chisels, Japanese bench chisels (Orie Nomi) consist of a blade that is highly chamfered (mentori), a finely tapered ferrule (kuchigane) and a rather short and somewhat slender handle (handoru) with a steel hoop (katsura) on the end.
The blades are laminated (a strip of high-carbon steel forge-laminated to a softer low carbon steel or iron body and neck) and are typically heat-treated to a higher degree than Western chisels. This configuration makes the cutting edge highly durable yet relatively easy to resharpen and hone. The backs are slightly hollowed (a single hallow on narrow chisels, two or more hallows on wider chisels) making it easier to flatten the chisel if required.
I’ve had the opportunity of trying a variety of Japanese chisels over the past several decades, and find these Kakuri chisels to be stellar performers for the price.
Manufacturer: Kakuri Sangyo
Model: Oire Nomi Chisel Set – 3 Piece
Price: $65 (free shipping for orders over 20000JPY (about 180 CAD) or about $10 shipping.
Made in: Japan
Source: Direct from manufacturer
I think that most craftspeople will agree that Japanese chisels are much more attractive than Western chisels. The bench chisels have steeply bevelled edges that flow into the neck giving them a very striking appearance. The bevelled edges make it easier to work in tight spots, for example when fine-tuning dovetail pin and tail sockets or cleaning up the corners of narrow mortises.
The blade bevels are flat ground (to around 30°) and are quick to hone to a razor finish.
The Kakuri chisels come fully sharpened and ready to use. You don’t need to hone the bevel, though it wouldn’t hurt. Likewise, you really don’t need to flatten the back of these chisels – should you ever need to do so the hollowed back will make the job super quick.
The steel hoop on the end of the handle means these chisels are meant to be struck with a hammer. Striking with a chisel (rather than a wooden mallet) is the most efficient way to transmit kinetic energy to the cutting edge. You can use just about any hammer as long as it has a flat face (rather than domed), to prevent damage to the butt of the chisel. A hammer in the 11 ounce range works well. Kakuri offer a 300 gram (10.5 oz) Genno hammer for under $50.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been using these chisels for a range of chopping, paring, trimming, and joinery work and find that edge retention is surprisingly good.
These chisels are exceptionally well priced. You can expect to pay about $75 (which includes shipping from Japan) – or about $25 per chisel. Doesn’t cost much more than a large pizza and a 12 pack of Bud Light – and considerably more satisfying.
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