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Thread: Japanese Chisel Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
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    Japanese Chisel Question

    A couple of posts here indicate that Matsumura chisels tend to chip. This is my unfortunate experience also. I have too much invested in them and enjoy using them so will be sticking with them and sharpening them often, and avoiding knots etc. But I wonder if they can be toughened with a little tempering. Any advice?

    I don't want to add a secondary bevel.
    Last edited by Tom Bender; 12-07-2018 at 8:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Northeast PA
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    403
    Have you tried changing the bevel angle? Making it a few degrees steeper may help alleviate some of the chipping issues. I can't speak to the tempering question because I have no experience there.
    ---Trudging the Road of Happy Destiny---

  3. #3
    If the heat treatment is poor to begin with or the grain structure not refined enough there's nothing you can really do to make it better other than making the bevel angle higher.

  4. Tom,

    You did not say what angle you are sharpening them at?

    best wishes,
    David

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    A couple of posts here indicate that Matsumura chisels tend to chip. This is my unfortunate experience also. I have too much invested in them and enjoy using them so will be sticking with them and sharpening them often, and avoiding knots etc. But I wonder if they can be toughened with a little tempering. Any advice?
    Japanese chisels, like all woodworking chisels, are tempered. For tempering, the higher the temperature, the less brittle and the tougher the chisel becomes. Tempering is a compromise between chipping problems, too hard, and bending problems, too soft. Yes, you can soften and toughen your chisels by tempering. You would want to remove the handle; I don't know if they are designed to be removed like chisels that have finely tapered tangs.

    My experience is that the finer your technique, the larger the window you have for tempering. That is too say, a harder chisel that is lightly tempered will not chip and a softer chisel that is more tempered will not bend. I think you could improve the situation by concentrating on clean technique. Don't chop down and then scrape out the chip, don't chop too hard on harder woods, don't bury the edge so deeply that you have to wrestle to get it out. So I would recommend trying to determine what actions cause the chipping and whether you can bring about improvement by avoiding abusive technique.

  6. #6
    +1 on the questions back to you about your bevel angle.

    If bevel angle is not the issue, try grinding/honing the chisel back 1-2mm and see if it makes a difference. I was taught that when new some Japanese chisels are a little brittle and prone to chipping but the issue is resolved once you grind off the outer layer of steel and get down just below the surface to the good stuff.

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