Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
Thank you to everyone who contributed towards Walt Quadrato's battle against cancer! Their fundraising goal was met. Our prayers are with you, Walt!
Oriental Hand Tools
Good day, I know hundreds of people probably ask you these type of questions, but you are the only one I thrust to give me an honest answer on the matter... So here it goes, I would like to get a few(2) Japanese saw, maybe one for fine joinery(dovetail...
Thanks for your trust, and thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
I have a write up on picking your first Japanese saw. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth a look. I do go over why a standard 240mm ryoba and a rip cut dozuki may not be the best choice to start with.
If you want saws that are resharpenable, that’s a bit more difficult, mainly because good ones are more expensive. One way to go is to start with a larger saw from eBay, and try to tune it up. That’s a great way of practicing Japanese saw sharpening.
Though the Japanese dialect was spoken almost exclusively by individuals of Japanese origin until the mid-18th century, it is now largely a vernacular utilized by young white men who decorate their apartments with traditional Japanese prints and are devoted fans of manga artist Hayao Miyazaki.
Japanese planes can be used for a variety of tasks.
This video is another example of a blacksmith making chisels by forge-welding a harder piece of steel onto softer wrought iron using a charcoal fire, and who judges the temperature of the metal by observing the color and characteristics of the tool as he goes along. These videos are always have a bit of a freak show element, because everyone knows only Japanese blacksmiths would go to all this trouble and obsess over the changes in color that they see during this process.
Oh, wait. It’s Peter Ross. My bad.
My new favorite Japanese woodworking project.
Japanese tools are often made fun of because they go in the “wrong” direction. Bob Lang shows how using tools on the pull stroke can be a great solution for woodworking tasks.
I don’t mean to imply that you should pick up a chisel by the pointy side, I want to share a method of using a chisel that solves a bunch of workshop problems that many people think require expensive and/or specialized tools. Hold the tool so it is vertical and with the sharp edge in contact with the work. Maintain downward pressure and the vertical position, and draw the chisel along, in the direction of the flat face and you have an incredibly versatile scraping tool.
Planes and saws, Bob. Planes and saws. We’ve talked about this.
Hi Wilbur. My wife and I will be in Japan for two weeks over the winter holiday. We have a tour of tsunesaburo factory and a visit to the relocated takanaka carpentry museum lined up. Do you have any suggestions of other places to visit with our...
Please take me with you.
Seriously, it looks like you have a good handle on your trip. Miki City and Sanjo appear to be the tool making centers, but I don’t have good information on contacts in either place. Maybe the folks at the Takanaka Carpentry Museum can help with that when you get there.
A couple of other sources might be Tomohito Iida, who runs the Iida Tool website, and Stuart Tierney, who runs the Tools From Japan website. I know that they are in contact with a number of toolmakers as well.
And thanks for reading. I really appreciate it. Have a great time on your trip, and I hope to see some updates on what you learn.
This video is of Osami Mizuike, a maker of traditional Japanese scissors called nigiri basami. To me, the interesting part of this video comes in at 0:45, where it appears that he forge welds a harder piece of steel onto the softer backing steel that makes the rest of the blade and the body of the scissors. This part of the process looks identical to the corresponding steps in making Japanese chisels and plane blades.
For more information, there’s an article in Alto magazine detailing how he’s the last practitioner of this art, how he’s in search of a successor, and so on. I’m not sure exactly how true this story is, since there seems to be other makers of laminated blade Japanese scissors around.
(Thanks to Matthew Webb for the link.)
Several years ago, when I first got into woodworking and was looking for information on Japanese tools, I found the Japanese Woodworking Forums, which was run by Harrelson Stanley. There is a lot of fascinating information on that forum, which is still available, but over the years it seems to have gone by the wayside, which was a shame. It’s always good to have a place for discussion.
Over the past couple of years, however, there have been new forums that have come along for woodworkers interested in Japanese tools. Here’s a list of the ones I’ve found.
The Piedmont Japanese Carpentry Club. This is a Facebook group run by Philip Fuentes. It’s quite active, and although I understand the feelings people may have about Facebook, this group is a great reason for giving Mark Zuckerberg access to your browsing habits.
Japanese Hand Tools. This is a subforum that is part of Woodworking Australia’s Woodwork Forums.
And of course, on the more mainstream hand tool forums, Japanese tools come up as a topic of discussion from time to time.
Check them out. Even if you decide to just lurk on these forums, they are a great source of information about Japanese tools.
Fantastic video giving an overview of sashimono woodwork, where an incredible amount of attention is paid to precision joinery, the fitting of parts, and the finish. There’s also a great shot of lumber drying using a unique method of stacking boards, and a nice section on the species of wood that Japanese woodworkers use. Spoiler alert: it’s not all softwoods.
My Chilean friend Sebastian has been immersing himself in the Dao of the Japanese saw, and has sent me some of his early experiments in shaping a particular saw tooth design.
There is a Japanese saw sharpener (a “metate”, and actually soooo much more than just a sharpener) by the name of Nagakatsu/ChoMasaru that has been promoting a different style of saw tooth design. The ChoMasaru design supposedly cuts more smoothly, and requires less effort than more traditional tooth designs, but his work is seldom seen on this side of the world.
Sebastian is Sebastian Gonzalez, who has been documenting his efforts at Japanese saw sharpening. Jason’s been on a bit of a blacksmithing and sharpening tear recently. Both blogs are worth reading and bookmarking.
Polished surfaces are generated by using a course abrasive, then a a grade finer, then a grade finer. The objective of each stage being, to remove the scratches of the previous layer. O K, so a shine in this context would the objective, yes? The more scratches removed, the more polished and shinier the surface would become??? I have used a shiny surface to a chisel back or plane blade back as a sign that I have done a good job for years.
Apparently this is just not so.
It looks like David has independently came to the same conclusion I have as to whether a mirror polish is necessary for a sharp edge. Spoiler: it’s not.
Meiji era Japanese woodworkers at work.
The guy on the left apparently is management. The similarities between Japanese and western woodworking seem endless.
(Photo by Kimbei Kusakabe, from 바람따라 구름따라.)
Japanese woodworker making geta, a Japanese wooden shoe. I spot a couple of planes, but no sign of a fire shovel chisel.
(Photo by T. Enami (Nobukuni Enami), from T-Enami.org.)
Now that Thanksgiving has passed, and we’re entering into the Christmas season, here’s something to keep in mind.
Ken Hatch, with an unsolicited opinion:
I have Japanese chisels in both #1 and #2 White Steel, either takes an incredible edge straight off the stone and the edge will last. I also have a set of the newer Stanley SW 750’s with Chrome Steel, they take a good edge but straight off the stone the edge fractures at the first touch of wood and the chisel dulls very quickly.
So while the face of training has changed a great deal over time, the talent of the next generation is still there and being encouraged and inspired. Couple that with passionate and skilled enthusiasts around the world writing, making and teaching, woodworking skills should be with us for a long time to come.
Although, as Graham points out, the certificates that this generation will get are a lot less fancy than the ones that were awarded to his great-grandfather.
Ben Seltzer at Tools for Working Wood dropped me a line about their Cyber Monday sale. They will be listing nearly 300 heavily discounted items on their website on the evening of Sunday, November 30th. Items to be sold include discontinued products, tools bought as samples but never sold, items with small defects/issues, or items that were used as a demo, or for photography.
Ben says there are a substantial number of Japanese tools including a ton of new (but dusty) Japanese pull saws, several new Japanese dado planes (like the one pictured above), and a decorative Nishiki twisted-neck chisel (sadly missing its hoop). Besides Japanese tools, there are also NOS Stanley spokeshaves, Ashley Iles chisels, slipstones, and more.
Listings will appear on the Tools for Working Wood home page starting at 10pm-ish Brooklyn time Sunday, Nov. 30th. They expect there to be a lot of shoppers all at once, so to make it a little less frantic for everyone once you add an item to your cart you will have 20 minutes to finish shopping and check out, otherwise the item gets released for someone else to have a shot at it. Set your alarm.
(Disclaimer: I don’t get any kickback for this mention. The Christopher Schwarz ethics policy is in effect.)
I have found that when you ask yourself if a tool is dull, the poor pathetic thing is way past being dull and is on its way to getting chipped and trashed. I think you need to sharpen an edge before it actually occurs to you to sharpen that edge. Sounds impossible, but it’s not.
I sharpen a lot, and it is part of the rhythm of my day.
I’m a big believer in this. Here’s my take, from earlier this year.
This is a fascinating video from Dave Friesen showing the steps in making a mount for a tanto, which is a Japanese knife. There are a lot of great shots of Japanese tools being used in this video. Well worth watching.
(Thanks to Patrick Anderson for the link.)