Toolsday: Nomi

As a 'congratulations' present to myself for actually completing the "Camp Gate" project last week, I decided to invest in some actual Japanese tools. I bought five things total from Hida Tools in Berkeley, CA, and two of those things were chisels.

Oire Nomi

These are oire nomi, common bench chisels. They are designed to be struck with a hammer or mallet. In this picture, you can see the hollow ground backs of the blades, the socket joining the blades to the wooden handles, and the iron rings around the end of the handles. I bought one 6mm and one 18mm chisel, as these are closest to the sizes I use most often of my Stanley chisels.

The edge of the blade

Here you can see the edge of the chisel blade. These are straight out of the box with no tuning or sharpening. They are tolerably sharp already. They're not super sharp, but usably sharp. If you look closely, you can see in the bevel that the blades are actually made of two different kinds of steel that have been laminated together. The lower part, that holds the edge, is harder steel. The upper part is softer. This makes the chisel easier to sharpen, as you are not trying to grind off as much hard steel, but there is still plenty of metal backing up the edge.

Iron rings

This end is not ready for use. These rings are here to keep the handles from splitting, but the rings are not designed to be struck. I will have to move the rings down a bit on the handle and "mushroom over" the wooden ends so that the hammer will hit wood and not metal. The handles themselves are (I think) red oak, a fairly solid wood.

Anyway, I look forward to learning how to use Japanese chisels. These are a bit more delicate than my heavy-duty Stanleys. I've been getting better with chisels in general, and it's time to learn really proper technique. These are the most inexpensive chisels Hida sells, but I still hope I don't ruin them.

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2013.07.23 at 12:00am EDT