17 June 2010


I had another little parcel yesterday...who doesn't like parcels when they're full of shiny tools? This one was from Matthew at Workshop Heaven and contained four Japanese saws and a set of Ashley Isles dovetail chisels.

In trying out the saws, I cut a small dovetail joint in some thin oak using the rip saw and wasn't disappointed...it went through it like balsa. I've since used the cross cut and Kataba and have been equally impressed.

The chisels are very good as well. I had a brief look at one a while ago, but closer inspection yesterday shows that the side grinding is nigh on perfect, certainly good enough for dovetailing and general bench work. The backs though, weren't quite so good. As they're are hollow ground in their length, Ashley Isles maintain that when the backs are flattened only the front portion near the blade ought to be in contact with the medium (whatever is used...in my case the 3M papers) I found this to be the case in only two of the chisels supplied, the rest required various grades of papers to flatten them. To be fair, they weren't badly out, but not quite as good as I was expecting...they only took about ten minutes each to prepare. They're still not perfect (as my 3M papers are pretty worn at the moment) but the next time I change them, the fresh grits ought to see them brought to the required standard. I've also decided to keep them with a single bevel at 25deg as I have the Mr F's Oire Nomi's to belt with a hammer.

Now if you're really on the ball reading this, you'll have noticed that I said 'four' saws...and I've only tested three, so what was the other one?..

...one of these that I've been meaning to get for a while, but the old 'tuit' thing always got in the way!


Mitchell said...

Enjoyed the "tuit", my morning laugh.

You are scaring me, though, with your reports on your new-found love of Japanese style tools. I have a few Japanese style saws, and I agree with your assessment that they are just the ticket. I also have one Japanese style chisel, and because I faced the same issues with it that you encountered with your sets, I never purchased another one.

Instead, I have slowly assembled a set of Stanley 40's. Only one of these 90-odd year old chisels took longer than a couple of minutes to flatten. Most just required polishing.

The reports you have given regarding your new, expensive purchases of Japanese style chisels are in line with my experiences with my one, single example. Spending what seemed like forever flattening its back, then having to deal with its hoop, well, it all just put me off them. On top of that were the reports I read that state they are not for seriously hardwoods, like maple, as the laminated blade is brittle, compared to its European cousins.

I guess I'm just missing something when it comes to these chisels.

Just to mention, I too used 3M paper for sharpening but I started to resent the cost of maintaining 8 different grits. To give one a go, I purchased a 6" diamond bench stone from Lee Valley. I'm heading back there next week to purchase the set, along with a couple of the finer oil stones. Man, do they go through the steel in a hurry. What takes forever with the paper can be done in a few swipes with the diamonds.



Woodbloke said...

Hi Mitchell - there were a number of issues with the DMT diamond stones that I couldn't get on with and I find the 3M papers suit my style of honing, but as always...each to their own.
The Jap chisels do take a long time to prepare, but the effort is worth it. They will work hardwoods in their stride with ease, but you can't 'lever' with them as you might a Western style chisel...the edge will definitely then chip!