Hand Tools

Subject:
vintage japanese chisels
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David Weaver
Most of the vintage japanese chisels that I get from japan are sharpened with some kind of convex bevel that steepens at the edge. I've never gotten one that's window pane flat like I have been sharpening mine until recently.

Quite a few of them are pretty blunt, though.

The english chisels are sometimes sharpened pretty flat, and sometimes they're not (the types that ebay.uk has made it possible to get reasonably). Some have long primary bevels and a small final bevel (but it's usually fairly worn, suggesting someone has used them a little bit since the last time the neat long primaries were reset).

I'm sure this was done before, it's just a matter of what percentage of the time and how can we tell the folks who used it on chisels used the chisels a lot if the chisels are full length.

I've been doing "the roll" for years on the stones. Lifting the last little bit to protect the edge and shallowing the primary bevel (or not steepening it for hardwoods) and then stropping. When you and wiley requested that I relay the primary bevel angle on my chisels, it was set like I would normally set it. I was shocked to see that it measured 19 degrees. But I've see flat bevels that were made shallower than that on English sets.

The roll is valuable even outside of all of this because it ensures that the finest tool is working all the way to the edge. Part of the thing that drove me to that was starting to look at edges and realizing that if I did the roll, the edges would look better and I'd never have any surprisingly unfinished edges.

But there are a lot of variables we don't know. When I get a neatly matched set of english chisels in a roll and they've been well used but the bevels neatly cut (and shallow), could the user of them have used them only for a specific task? The tyzack chisels have two that were used more than the others. One of them, the owner hooped after the handle got a bit shorter than the others. The finish on the full bevel suggested that they were carefully kept that way (it wasn't a coarse grind).

It's just hard to guess and discern any real pattern with all of this, but it's nice that if it was very common in some variation that laziness can lead us back to it.

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