A Japanese blacksmith master - chutaro imai fujihiro chisels (Rating: 5)

I just received the two oire-nomi (bench) Japanese chisels.

I ordered from hida tool. I chose the white steel chisels made by chutaro imai. I got the 15 and the 36 mm, with multiple hollows. They are hand forged, fitted with a red oak handle and a hammered steel ferule.

Japanese chisels typically come in either white or blue steel. Imai chose to work with white steel. I decided to go with it because of good recommendations and the fact it is easier to sharpen. They have a Rockwell of 64-65.

The chisels came well packed, and unsharpened. I started by flattening the back.
Did not take more than 5 minutes. They were already pretty close to dead flat.

I did that going up the stones from 1000 to 4000 and then 8000 water-stone and ended up with a mirror finish on the back.

I then proceeded to sharpen the edge. They ship with an edge that is between 30 and 35 degrees. The 15 mm was close to 35, the 36mm chisel was at 33 degrees. I am planning to use these on hardwood, so I decided to go with a larger angle than the usual 25 degrees common to most western bench chisels.

I used my Veritas MKII jig and sharpened the large chisel at 34 degrees, the smaller one at 35.

Instead of establishing a secondary bevel like I usually do on western chisels, I decided to just stay with one bevel. The amount of steel of a Japanese chisel (the cutting steel) is smaller than a western chisel and hence, decided that it was not worth going through the trouble and extra waste of steel to do secondary bevels.

Once again used my water-stones up to 8000. the 36 mm took about 25 minutes .
I would first do the edge then touch up the back and alternate a couple time. Did that at each grit.

Once sharpened, i could shave with it. Sharpening and flattening the smaller 15 mm went even faster.

Besides the usual, cut the paper and shave with it tests I tried it on cherry.

On this picture you can see on the left the cut I made with the 15mm Japanese chisel. On the right, with my narex 16 mm chisel. Both chisels were sharpened to the best of my abilities with 8000 grit.

The japanese steel left a completely mirror wood surface. The narex produced some small striations.. (zoom in at the picture to see that).

I am very impressed with these chisels and I am going to see how well they last. Imai has an even higher end of chisels that he does on custom orders. Those special chisels are made with samurai sword steel and have a month or so lead time. If I am happy with the fujihiro over time, I will probably order the high end custom version.