Japanese chisel set??

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Forum topic by Vectorboy posted 05-25-2017 01:17 PM 3768 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1143 days

05-25-2017 01:17 PM

I bought an old set a set of japanese chisels. But since i dont know anything about them i havent dared to put them to use. I mean i love my old e.a berg chisels and i take cear of them. But these chisels seems more like a work art than tools. Therefore i would realy appreciate if anyone could tell me what i dealing with.

25 replies so far

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1158 days

#1 posted 05-25-2017 01:20 PM

Are those chisels…...damascus steel??

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1552 days

#2 posted 05-25-2017 01:31 PM

“Damascus” is one of the most misused terms. Especially on LJ.

View waho6o9's profile


8909 posts in 3353 days

#3 posted 05-25-2017 01:42 PM

Looks like a high quality set of Japanese chisels, congrats!

Are the backs similar to this?

View builtinbkyn's profile


3009 posts in 1717 days

#4 posted 05-25-2017 01:51 PM

They’re chisels like any other chisels. They’re beautiful and look like a top line set. You need to set the hoops (the rings on the tops of the handles). You can find out how to do that on Use them like any other chisels. Grats on a nice find!

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View builtinbkyn's profile


3009 posts in 1717 days

#5 posted 05-25-2017 08:02 PM

Though you stated they are “an old set”, the handles still having their stickers in place and undamaged, tell me they’re unused. The hoops or rings, need to be set prior to use. Japanese chisels, unlike their Western counterparts, are usually struck with a metal hammer. Japanese hammers for this use, have a flat side and a somewhat rounded side. The hoop prevents the handle from splitting when struck with a metal hammer, which is the traditional tool used. The link below has instructions on how to set the hoops on your chisels.

Oh, not knowing how you acquired them or what you paid, generally a set such as these run from around $2k to over $3k from a dealer. Enjoy them. They’re probably among the best chisels made.

Link to setting the hoops.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4424 days

#6 posted 05-25-2017 08:13 PM

Certainly made for collectors. You’ll probably need
to seek out somebody who can read Japanese
to be sure but they look like these ones:

View Woodknack's profile


13395 posts in 3156 days

#7 posted 05-26-2017 12:31 AM

Damascus steel is cheap nowadays, check eBay. They crank it out in Pakistan or one of those countries.

-- Rick M,

View Vectorboy's profile


5 posts in 1143 days

#8 posted 05-26-2017 06:48 PM

I guess they are damascus in the common use of the term, sandwich forged steel. I dont know what is considerd proper damascus. But since the are plus 30 years old I reckon there’s a chance they where made before the preforged damacus lumps came in to play in japanese blacksmiths.

Nope. They only have one hollow

Oh, thanks! I didn’t know about setting the hoops. Your right it seems like the previous owner berley toucht them (only a couple of them has ”marks” from a whetstone”).
I got them of a swedish craighslist counterpart, they belonged to a retired shipbuilder.

Yes I have contemplated asking a distant relative translate the writing. I might do that.

And thanks a lot for all the answers

View Woodknack's profile


13395 posts in 3156 days

#9 posted 05-26-2017 08:04 PM

I think the PC term is “laminated steel” or folded steel since technically no one today makes “Damascus steel”, nor have they for hundreds of years and there was nothing special about it when they did besides it looked cool and was a way to extend high quality steels which were much more expensive and rare back then, by mixing them with inferior grades.

-- Rick M,

View bobasaurus's profile


3633 posts in 3960 days

#10 posted 05-27-2017 05:04 AM

It’s called pattern-welded damascus in modern terminology. “Real” damascus is a lost process. There are a few attempts at re-creating the old style damascus, such as Wootz steel. Those chisels look amazing, I’m jealous. I would want to use them instead of just displaying.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Redoak49's profile


4746 posts in 2765 days

#11 posted 05-27-2017 05:58 PM

Just as a side note, there are some who have rediscovered how to make real Damascus steel. A metallurgy professor by the name of Dr. John. D Verhoeven and a blacksmith recreated the method. You can do a Google search for him and his papers are available online.

View Vectorboy's profile


5 posts in 1143 days

#12 posted 05-29-2017 10:21 AM

Okey from now on I will stick to the term folded steel….

As for the chisels Im still torn. I think I will try to get an translation before I put them in to use. Usually I buy vintage hand tools that look like shit and needs a lot of TLC. If builtinbkyn ballpark figures are correct, I might flip them because they dont give me much joy in the box. Im just not comfortable with using that pricey tools. Maybe if I was i better woodworker, I mean there has to be a limit how much subpar your skill is to your tools. :)

View pontic's profile


797 posts in 1385 days

#13 posted 05-29-2017 11:35 AM

I just finished reading both of Dr. Verhoeven’s articles. Thanks Redoak. They make Damascus ingots now. The blacksmith won’t tell his heat cycle but Dr Verhoeven’s article describes very well the formulae for making Damascus steel. It is not a folding process. It is a chemical-mechanical process that occurs when the ingots are made. When they are forged there is actually nanotechnology taking place at the molten-christalline front of the steel. this is facilitated by the additatives of Vanadium, Chromium and Titanium all common in India at the time. I was definitely not a folded process.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View Woodknack's profile


13395 posts in 3156 days

#14 posted 05-29-2017 04:43 PM

I read one of his papers and I stand corrected.

-- Rick M,

View bandit571's profile


25916 posts in 3460 days

#15 posted 05-29-2017 06:01 PM

I think more in the case of Japanese “Sword Steel”

Yes, those chisels were made by folding two types of steels. After they have been made, they are acid etched to show off the layers better…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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