Hand Tools Archive

Re: Mike Brady - Phil Lowe's Chisels

david weaver
Well finished isn't intended to mean anything other than that. I had the dovetail versions of the KI, and I had a couple of "matsumura" paring chisels, which were probably on par with the production iyorois. The edges were a little crumbly, they were just OK.

The KI chisels were great. Hard and though they weren't pored over in terms of finish, they were neat enough.

I recall the picture of your early dovetail chisels. People tend to see what they want to, so when the shinogi style cabinet chisels showed up, everyone called them dovetail chisels and remarked that the lands were flat. The KI chisels that were then made and sold at LV with the tiny lands are excellent for what people think they want to do with "dovetail" chisels, but they can be a pain to sharpen - at least relatively, due to the tiny cross section.

The subtle fine finish on the nicer chisels is a work of art, but I get the sense that it's important for a maker to get the balance of hardness right and use good stock and not ruin it in processing. KI's process is simple, I know he uses dies to forge the chisels. That probably prevents him from making the stinkers that occur occasionally with the more involved makers.

Many of the very hard much older chisels that I have don't have the extreme amount of time spent on finish like the later kiyotada or the kiyohisa types. They often show up with a rounded bevel on them - nobody likes that dirty secret, but they are not amateur chisels. I'd suspect their hardness dictated that for day to day use - so they could be ground quickly. Some are very contrary to natural stones of any type due to their hardness. I flatten them out for aesthetics, but would make note that this isn't the kind of sloppy care that a lot of western tools get, but rather carefully maintained (they're still sharp and were deliberately done the way they were done).

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