24th Oct 2010, 12:38 AM #1
Koyamaichi dovetail chisels (with thanks to Stu)
The best part of woodworking is joint making. And the most pleasurable joint to make is a dovetail.
Several years ago I managed to pick up 4 Koyamaichi dovetail chisels on eBay at what I considered to be a bargain price. NOS 1980 stock - 1", 3/4", 1/2" and 3/16". I had heard about Koyamaichi from David Charlesworth, who gave them two thumbs up. I looked all over for them, but no one stocked Koyamaichi. Some years later Lee Valley began to offer them, and they were the only stockist ... until I heard from Stu (in Japan) that he had met Mr Koyama, and was now offering them as well.
When Stu contacted me it was amazing timing. Let me explain ...
Japanese dovetail chisels are really only called "dovetail chisels" because of their shape, and not because they are designed to chop out dovetails. They are tapered from the top, but they do not have narrow shoulders. Certainly nothing like Lie Nielsen or Blue Spruce. The Koyamaichi are pretty good in this respect, but only compared to the regular bench chisels.
I have other dovetail chisels. The Blue Spruce are fantastic. But it pays to have a chisel that can be used to chop into hard wood when you live in Oz. The Koyamaichi excelled at this, taking and holding a fantastic edge.
I am a compulsive tinkerer. Never leave anything alone. And a while back I decided to grind down the sides of the smaller Koyamaichi chisel so that it could chop out the waste right into the shoulder but without bruising it. And I screwed it up ... gouged out a piece at the top. The chisel was OK to use but every time I looked at it I was reminded that I had done a poor job.
When Stu emailed me I decided to get a replacement for the 3/16" as well as a 1/4" and an 1/8" to round out a set. Not only that - and this is really the point - but Mr Koyama would custom grind the shoulders to my specs. Well, I could not pass up the opportunity.
They arrived last week. All I have done is set the hoops.
Here are the shoulders of the original three ...
.. and here are the new three ...
The shoulders are very tiny, less than .5mm - I plan to lap these out with sandpaper. Very little work needed.
The hoops of the original chisels were hand beaten rather than forged. I liked that look so Mr Koyama added these to the new chisels. However they arrived in black, which I buffed off to match the originals.
Now there is MORE! I opened up the box .. to find a gift from Stu. An absolutely beautiful small 3" square. This is adjustable ...
The allen key is a really nice touch ...
It's just become my go-to for small joinery.
Eat your heart out Colen Clenton.
Stu, many thanks for your efforts in getting the chisels done. I am not sure which was the better gift, the chisels or your lovely square.
Regards from Perth
DerekVisit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.
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24th Oct 2010, 06:46 AM #2
24th Oct 2010, 07:56 AM #3
Well done Derek.
The chisels look great and I love when you get something a little special. The little square looks like it has real character. May these tools provided you with many years of service and much joy in their use.
to Stu for being a great bloke too
All the best
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