Saturday 14 April 2007

A few comments on some remarkable chisels

Japanese tools have always intrigued me. They are very different than our western tools, but have some superior thinking behind them. Saws are a perfect example. Cutting on the pull stroke takes full advantage of the tension in the blade. Brilliant! Japanese chisels are often viewed differently. I have heard many complaints... they are prone to chipping, they are finicky to sharpen, the steel hoops are sharp on the hand and they are just high carbon steel and won't stand up to hard use. My first real experience with Japanese chisels pretty much confirmed each of these points - I was fairly disappointed to be honest. It wasn't until I had a chance to try a chisel from Chuttaro Imai that I relized I had to give Japanese chisels another chance. This first chisel knocked my socks off - the same way my first experiece with an infill plane did. This chisel was like nothing I had ever seen before - let alone use. It is a dovetail paring slick. The blade is triangular in cross section - and was specified to compliment the 1:8 ratio used for dovetails. It is 3.5mm wide and about 14" long. Now here is the part that still has me scratching my head. It is "just a high carbon steel" chisel... but holds an edge like nothing I have ever used. This edge lasts at least 3 times longer than any other chisel I have ever used. And I don't baby it either! I place it in the kerf, and drive it strait down. It cuts right into the corners and tracks perfectly strait. And even after 20 dovetails - the edge still looks and acts freshly honed. I was hooked and have since proceeded to order several of the finishing chisels (or bench chisels). They all work the same way. Easy to sharpen - hold an edge like nothing else. The cost of these chisels is a very easy justification for me. These tools are so precicely made, and respond so consistently that they have allowed me to work faster and more accurately. That is easily worth $100 a chisel in my books.


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Thursday 12 April 2007

and here I thought 22-1/2" was big!

I recently had a chance to examine a 28-1/2" long jointer, and I must say - I was pretty taken with it. It also caused me to reconsider an earlier belief - that I would not be drawn to non-functional planes. A jointer this size really is not a practical plane to use... but seeing one first hand overshadowed that fact. So I set out to at least tinker with some drawings for one. As it turned out - there were a lot more changes than I had expected. It was not as easy as adding 3" to each end of the 22-1/2" jointer. Most of the profile lines were altered - some very minor and some were quite drastic. Once I thought it was close, I made a full sized mock-up to test it. Here is a photo of that mock-up behind my strangely smallish looking 22-1/2" jointer. There were a few more minor tweaks - but it looked right to me, so I moved forward.

I had this very old, odd looking piece of Ebony that turned out to be perfect for this plane - and several others. The Ebony was quarter sawn and while it had some very serious checks in it - they were perfectly strait and were generous enough to space themselves 3" apart. Perfect! And as an added bonus, the moisture content in the middle of the piece was 7%. I guess this plane is going to be built sooner than I had expected.

As with most of the planes I make, the wood dictates everything about the rest of the plane - and this one was no exception. As soon as I knew the Ebony would work - steel sides were the only option. With the drawings done, the wood and sidewall material decided - it was time to build the shell.

This is where I really learned to appreciate just how big this plane is going to be. Piening the shell together took twice as long as the 22-1/2" version. Thankfully, it went together without a hitch. I am already dreading lapping this plane though.


Blogger plane&fancy said...

Dear Konrad, Try making 6 36" jointers by hand, one with cupid bow dovetails. Well you did ask for comments.

7 September 2007 at 09:42  
Blogger Albert A Rasch said...


I can see where having a long jointer like this might be handy. Now let caveat this by saying I'm not a woodworker so I could be way off in application, but if you had to flatten a plank, you could build a jig with to falt and level sides and bridge it to flatten your plank.

Just saying...

Best Regards,
Albert Rasch In Afghanistan™
Albert “Afghanus” Rasch

14 January 2011 at 10:07  

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