View Full Version : Trying Japanese carving tools

Jim Watkinson
04-07-2009, 11:37 AM
For many years I've used a mixture of the same European carving tools that everyone else here does, but recently I tried some Japanese paring chisels (Nishiki) and was impressed by their ability to take a very sharp edge. I've long admired many of the tools in the Japan Woodworker catalog, so in the interest of experimenting I have ordered a couple of their laminated steel carving gouges (Tanaka). They haven't arrived, but I wanted to ask if any of the Creeker's carvers have used these tools and what results and opinions have they produced concerning ease of use, edge holding, etc.?

Mike Henderson
04-07-2009, 12:14 PM
I haven't tried Japanese carving tools (well, just once and only a small amount) but I'm sure they're very good. They're laminated like the chisels so the working steel is heat treated harder than western tools. However, I assume the hardness of the working steel is limited because the bevel angle on a carving tool is very acute - a 20* bevel is not at all uncommon. This limits the amount of support for the edge by the backer metal so the working steel would have to be somewhat softer to avoid breakage.

I don't have a problem with my western carving tools holding an edge, however, especially to the point where I'd seek out different tools. I power hone my tools so when they need a touch-up it's quick and easy.

My one question about Japanese carving tools has to do with the balance of the tool. Since the metal is laminated, it's possible the tool is somewhat heavier than an equivalent western tool, such as a Pfeil. How do you find the Japaneses carving tools compare to western carving tools in that area?