Hand Tools Archive

Observation about sharpenability - nomi *PIC*

David Weaver
I've bought probably a couple of hundred japanese chisels from japan now - more than 100. The draw to do it is that I can often find nice chisels for about $15 each and decent for a little less, then add proxy and shipping (Which isn't too bad if you can wait a few months).

Quite often, a chisel that is older and has had almost no use is overhard. Once in a while, I'll get overhard chisels that have been used heavily, but usually not. The ones that are heavily used have all had curious sharpening geometry (usually curvature of the bevel and a much shallower primary -I think the people using them are trying to minimize the area that they're sharpening).

A couple of weeks ago, I'd forgotten about an order that I made and I got about 60 chisels. 15 of them were in good sets, and most of the rest were junk (but they were priced like junk so that I could take the few good chisels out of them and maybe dump on ebay or throw away the rest of the garbage).

One of these two sets was very well used and almost perfectly cared for - this isn't common. I sold them on ebay yesterday, and some of them had been hand sharpened significantly out of square over time. I generally offer to correct this hoping someone will defer and say they want to, but the back polish on all of these chisels was perfect and flat and the top side sharpening was well done (slightly radiused) and the edges crisp. I have never bought a set with significant use that was in as good of shape as these.

Unfortunately, the buyer said they'd wait for me to correct them (i'm usually hoping not to get into finding out that they're overhard). It only took me about 30 minutes to completely correct 6 of the 10 chisels. They sharpen beautifully - easily on an india stone and will finish reasonably nicely on a washita stone with some focused work near the edge. A small burr forms (the washita won't create a burr on overhard chisels), and then I buffed the tip (of course) :|

What made these so well loved? They likely have zero tendency to chip and would be amenable to natural or synthetic stones. if I hadn't sold them already, I probably would've sold one of my high hardness sets to keep them.

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