Hand Tools Archive

Re: My most unusual chisel, steel related

David Weaver
It's not quite equal to a good white steel chisel, but it exhibits none of the corner losing habits that white steel can have in heavy use.

I realize most people use their chisels to waste half blinds or trim tenons, and I guess at this point, that's more common for me. The sort of in between of hard edge but no deformation in beating makes this steel nice. It is not quite like anything else I've tried.

It is made by woodwell (mujingfang) and in my opinion, they're plenty strong about their price ($70 for five of them is a princely sum for chinese chisels, and 3 of the five sizes are too large to do anything practically - they must work differently than we do, or perhaps these are intended for sculpting.

The wood is chinese mystery wood, sort of like beech, sort of like maple. Not identical to either.

you are 100% right about the design of the chisel as it fits in the handle - it is a pure guess on their part, and the T gives the chisel some strength, but it prevents it from working further into the handle. This is a worse design than the one that I criticized previously....but they're less than $15 each.

The steel looks like it's water cut or something similar straight out of sheet stock.

I guessed a couple of years ago when I mentioned this type of steel that it's similar to T-HSS, but I seriously doubt that's the case. I was just trying to guess why it is so tolerant of natural stones but still hard.

Some of mujis tools are nice, but these are more strange and contrived. Still, I wanted to try a chisel that was tapered. Less taper, a better chisel design and the same steel would just about give anything a run for its money. I don't expect that'll happen.

I intentionally ground one of these off on the corner and then into a V to cut a fingernail groove in a pocket knife blade (annealed). When I ground it, I let it get orange - the hardness seems to be unaffected. (eons ago, japan woodworker advertised muji goods as A2 steel, but JWW has often been more interested in creating the story than conveying what I want to know).

I did the same with a muji iron, ground it on a glazed wheel until it glowed - no problem.

The other strange thing with the irons (as a matter of comparing the fineness, and these are also similar to the green HSS iron that I have planing corian in a thread below) is that the edge does not fail or sharpen in a way that it gives up chunks like A2 does on a washita, or like I fought with the SGPS on. It fails finely. Brent beach got good pictures of it. It almost fails like carbon steel, and probably is at least equal to 3V (its wear bevel in brent's test was similar, but the resulting edge after dulling is slightly finer looking).

While it's not damaged by the washita like A2, it is also not able to be sharpened in any practical way on the washita, either - just burnished. Activating the washita with a slurry would probably make it work, but I don't like to do that to my washitas.

I had settled so solidly into trying to maximize O1 that I forgot a lot about this. Last week, I was at the beach and had a lot of time to post about it, thus the long stream of pondering. For practicality, I'm not improved in the shop by any of this, but I'm curious, anyway. I just don't understand how this steel was backed into in china and how it fares as well in edge holding and fineness. I have 6 or 7 examples now of muji planes, these chisels and other HSS irons that are probably also just made by muji and painted green. They are all like this (as in, this isn't just a "good one").

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