SoCalWoody

Kunikei Chisels - need advice

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New to the forum, hello everyone. 

Someone is selling a set of 10 hand hammered Japanese (Uchi Dashi) chisels - Kunikei. These are made by a Samurai blacksmith by the name of Yoshiro Ikeda. They are hand forged using the best quality Yasuki high carbon white steel - I've included a link to the set below. 

I am an amateur when it comes to chisels, but I want to buy a nice set and take the time to learn to sharpen, take care of, and properly use these chisels. These are used, but only for one project from what I gather. These are being sold for a good price, but I am not exactly sure what to look for when I inspect these and I'm also not really sure if this is the best chisel set for my needs, especially considering it's a set of ten, and some get quite wide.  

Any advice would be greatly appreciated and I can answer any questions that may come up. Thank you!

https://www.woodcraft.com/products/set-of-10-hand-hammered-uchi-dashi-chisels-kunikei

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I don't know if a set of$2500 chisels is the best thing if you're just starting out. I started with a set of 3 Craftsman chisels that served me well but as I learned to sharpen on them and banged the heck out of them getting my feet wet in the craft, well I now use them to open paint cans.

If you have the means, they look beautiful but you should get some cheapos to learn on.

But that's just my. 02. Good luck!

 

Also, in Advanced Woodworking forum, look for s thread called "dovetail chisels" -it has s lot of good info on high end chisels.

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9 hours ago, SoCalWoody said:

New to the forum, hello everyone. 

Someone is selling a set of 10 hand hammered Japanese (Uchi Dashi) chisels - Kunikei. These are made by a Samurai blacksmith by the name of Yoshiro Ikeda. They are hand forged using the best quality Yasuki high carbon white steel - I've included a link to the set below. 

I am an amateur when it comes to chisels, but I want to buy a nice set and take the time to learn to sharpen, take care of, and properly use these chisels. These are used, but only for one project from what I gather. These are being sold for a good price, but I am not exactly sure what to look for when I inspect these and I'm also not really sure if this is the best chisel set for my needs, especially considering it's a set of ten, and some get quite wide.  

Any advice would be greatly appreciated and I can answer any questions that may come up. Thank you!

https://www.woodcraft.com/products/set-of-10-hand-hammered-uchi-dashi-chisels-kunikei

Welcome also!

When I read your post it says you are an amateur when it comes to these chisels, I'm an amateur to these chisels too,  I think most on here will be also. I do assume you are not a total amateur to woodworking. I was curious and looked at some of your old threads and saw you are setting up a shop and interested in learning joinery, and Japanese joinery at that. Well a super high quality set of Japanese chisels would fit the bill for that. You seem to be willing to pay for quality. But I do have a few questions.

Do you currently have a set of chisels? I think learning to sharpen and care for a less expensive set first would be a wise move. Also, you can always use a set of lesser quality chisels in the shop for cleaning up glue and other odd jobs, jobs you should not use your best chisels for.

When you say you are getting them used for a good price, are you getting a significant discount? $2500 is pretty steep for most people's blood. They seem like a very high quality tool and should last a lifetime. You also ask if you need all those sizes, well it can't hurt, but it also depends on what you plan to make. When you inspect them, look for any knicks on the edges of the blade, make sure the handles are secure, and the backs are flat. I read in your link the maker personally sharpens and prepares each set before shipping, so they should be pristine if only used for one project..

So you are setting up a shop, is getting this set of chisels keeping you from buying other shop equipment? I don't want to get into your pocketbook, but it is a consideration. If you are looking to buy top shelf equipment, it will take a lot of cash to outfit a shop. 

As for me, I think I'd be hard pressed to buy that set, unless I got a really good deal. I do a mixture of power and hand tool work, trying to learn more hand work. Since I've not had experience with a set of chisels like that, I'm not sure if they would be worth it to me. I have 3 sets of chisels, a dovetail set and 2 standard sets (a knock around set and a somewhat nicer set). I do have a Japanese set on my wish list, but not a set like that.

Bottomline is I think you can accomplish whatever you want to do with a less expensive set, but I do think it would be cool to own a unique set like that. It's only money, 

 

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The more I do chisel work, the more I realize that what makes a great chisel can be quite personal. It's better to get some less expensive chisels to start out, to let you discover what works best for you. Narex makes some very high value stuff; very decent quality at very good prices, and are a good place to start.

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I agree I'd learn to sharpen and care for chisels on something that is cheaper.

I don't think 10 chisels is necessary. I have a 6mm a 15mm and a 42 mm. I don't see much point in having every size unless you use chisels for a very large part of your work flow and KNOW you need more sizes. super wide chisels are very nice when working with through mortises as it allows you to keep lines straighter and makes it easier to avoid the saw tooth look if you use multiple blows with a narrow chisel.

This all goes out the window if the guy is looking to sell them dirt cheap. If they were for sale for say $750 it'd be hard to say no to them. If that's the case try and get good pictures of the real deal and make sure the markings are identical. There should be a makers mark somewhere. Generally it's stamped in the steel somewhere.

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Thanks everyone for the really great advice. It's a good deal, but it's not an epic deal on the chisels. A lot of you are saying I don't necessarily need the number of chisels in this set right now and I agree with that. I'm going to purchase about four high quality chisels for now and use the rest of the money on some planes. 

I know there are lots of threads on this already, and I will also search, but could someone chime in with a good high-end chisel manufacture I should look at purchasing?

Thanks everyone, especially for the warm welcome. 

 

 

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I have cheap chisels--set of old marples, and a set of dewalt chisels. Then, i have a set of veritas PMV11 chisels. Finally, I have maybe 8-10 japanese chisels i purchased second hand from japan. I dont know that the veritas chisels make me a better woodworker than the set of marples i paid $10 for at an estate sale. #1 is sharp. #2 is the person holding the chisel. A distant #3 is who made the chisel/steel types/handle design. I certainly didnt need anymore chisels than what i had, and like Chestnut points out, i kinda dont use many more than 1/4", 1/2" and 1". Because i have them, if i want a 3/4" chisel, i grab the 3/4" chisel. Or, if i want the nearest metric equivalent.

 

If I was starting over and had a small budget(what is your budget, did you say?), I would look for used chisels, and try to get a good quality 1/4" chisel, 1/2" chisel, and ideally a 1". After that, i actually use a 1/8" a bit, a long handle paring chisel, and something wide like a 2"er i have. Depending on how you work, a 1/4" or 1/2" mortise chisel might be a valuable addition. Oddly enough, everything i have was purchased used. The veritas were new in box, but i thankfully didnt pay retail. I think all told, im into chisels for $5-600ish? I need another chisel like i need a hole in my head, but i will probably buy a big slick at some point, and maybe a fishtail or two. I certainly dont NEED either of those things, just nice to have stuff that also looks cool in the hand tool cabinet. I dont want to rain on the ultra expensive sets of chisels, but i think a fair percentage of people buying those sets just want to look at them. As they should, they look freaking fantastic! 

 

My 2 second review

Dewalt chisels--surprisingly enough, they arent bad. I think the composite grips are comfortable and they have a metal cap on the butt of the chisel, which allows you to use whatever mallet/hammer you want. Steel is somewhat soft, hasnt chipped badly on me in the years ive used them. You definitely dont feel like a master craftsman holding a yellow and black rubber handle.

Marples--These are the old version from Sheffield, which ive read is supposed to be better quality steel. I feel like they dull faster than the dewalts. The handles have a nice shape, but are soft, so you really need to use a wood/deadblow mallet. 

PMV11-- They are expensive, and they are great. I wouldnt want to hack out mortise waste with them, but they are a delight for detail work. Really light, handles feel great. So far they hold an edge really well. 

Narex--  I only have their 2". The handle is chunky and looks like it was designed by a caveman. I dont care for the rough texture of the handle either. Next, it took me HOURS to flatten the back and prep it for work. Steel seems to hold its edge ok, and it was cheap for such a wide chisel.

Japanese-- I have a variety, but the makers are Ouchi, Kunitsuru, and another maker that is slipping my mind. Anyways, relatively middle of the road makers. Think $110 a chisel compared to your set of $250 a chisel. Ouchi chisels are what i always read as the maker to start out with. I dont know if that is because tools from japan carried them(that site is closed now? When did that happen?), or if they truly are the best bang for your buck. They are good. I like all the used japanese chisels I have. They are definitely different from western bench chisels. You have a much smaller reference surface, they arent as long as a western bench chisel, and they are slightly more arduous to flatten/sharpen. I had one or two of the 1"+ widths that took a very long time to flatten the backs 100%. Keep in mind, that is with a hollow grind and im working with shapton glass stones that cut pretty quickly. These are also second hand from presumably skilled tradesman in japan, which surprised me that they werent 100% flat to begin with. It taught me that the thin laminate of steel on the back is indeed extremely hard. These chisels hold an edge very well. Keep in mind they are designed to be struck with a metal hammer, so you can really drive them when you want.

 

If I was picking one, i would easily choose the Veritas. They are excellent in every way. They look good. Feel good. Perform good--err, well. The japanese chisels look cool on display and are just fine to use, but i prefer a western bench chisel for the work i do with chisels. 

 

 

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