Author Topic: Fujikawa chisels  (Read 9319 times)

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Offline Mike Mitchell

  • Posts: 7
Fujikawa chisels
« on: April 17, 2017, 11:46 PM »
Has anyone tried the Fujikawa Japanese chisels from Woodcraft?  They appear to be the “economy” grade described thus in the TOOLSFROMJAPAN website. 
“An economy grade chisel made by Fujikawa, these 'Maruya' chisels trade some of the finer elements found in their higher grade 'Yasaku' chisel in order to give the best performance to cost ratio they can manage.”  They are  laminated “whitesteel”.
I wanted to try a Japanese chisel but the $60 to $70 Matsumatas seem high given I have spent a bunch on tools lately.
I was also looking at a Pfeil Swiss Made Western chisel. 
Any ideas on these two chisels?  Mike

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Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 909
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2017, 01:13 AM »
When it comes to Western chisels, I'm very fond of my Lee Valley PMV-11 chisels.  If you are a professional, they will pay for themselves in reduced sharpening time.  If you are a hobbyist, just buy a couple of sizes to start with.  My son is a Japanese chisel fan, but I think he would give you the same advice with respect to Japanese chisels.

Are you experienced with sharpening?  If not, you might consider starting with a 1/2" or 3/4" Marples/Irwin or Wood River chisel and working with it until you can sharpen it with confidence.  They are not the best chisel steel, but they are reasonably good for learning. You'll have to sharpen more often, but that just means you'll get more experience faster.  I still use the Marples chisels that I learned on (heard that they have suffered from becoming Irwin), though I've also used Sorby (not impressed) and in the last couple of years bought some Lee Valley PMV-11 (very impressed).

Offline Len C

  • Posts: 87
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2017, 09:20 AM »
I do not have that brand but have bought Ouichis from stuart at tools from japan and can say that in general he carries top notch tools at an excellent price and is great to deal with. You just need to deal with a somewhat slow ship time from Japan.

I suggest contacting Stu directly with any questions and maybe check the neanderthal forum at sawmillcreek.

Offline Mismarked

  • Posts: 139
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2017, 01:18 PM »
I bought a set of 6 Fujikawas about a year ago as my first set of chisels.  Previously, I had only used the Buck Brothers plastic chisels from Home Depot on occasion.  I wanted to try dovetails by hand.
   Based on an article I read, I had intended to buy two or three sizes of decent Western chisels to start out, but when I was at the store, the salesperson was enthusiastic about that particular Fujikawa set and thought they were a good value, so I went with those.
 If memory serves, the sizes range from about 1/4 to 1 inch.
   I was able to get them what I considered to be pretty sharp, set the hoops, took off the shiny finish and put BLO on the handles, and I had fun with it.  Did not know it when I left the store, but there was a lot more to getting them set up than just sharpening.  David Barron has some videos on it.  They do feel nice.  I managed to chip the edges on a few, but it was most likely user error, as I had no idea what I was doing.  You are supposed to use a special metal hammer for those, but I don't have one.
   About a week or two ago, I went back to the original advice and bought three sizes of the Lee Valley Western chisels, along with a couple of their mortise chisels.  Out of the box, they are sharper than I ever got the Fujikawas.  I haven't touched them yet in terms of lapping or preparing the blades, and am reading up on that before I do anything along those lines, as I really don't want to screw them up.
   I think that for dovetails, which is what I want to learn how to do, the Western chisels will be better for me.  Their narrow blades seem like they will fit into the recesses better without interference from the thick, blunt sides of the Japanese chisels.
    If the question is whether I am happy with the purchase of the Fujikawas, I am, generally.  If I had to do it again, though, I would probably start with the Western chisels--just a few in much smaller sizes than I had initially envisioned, and then at some point delve into the Japanese chisels.


Offline Mike Mitchell

  • Posts: 7
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2017, 02:07 PM »
I am going to check with Woodcraft as to the quality of the Fujikawas if they know.  I have a couple of Marples (before Irwin)   I bought in the UK and like them and a Narex I bought in Prague.  These were souvenirs and good buys.  I usually sharpen with sandpaper to #2000 or micro film to .3 but recently bought an #800 and #1000/8000 water stone and am trying those.
A fellow on Woodnet recommended Iyoroi which at $50 or so for blue steel seems good.  Still looking and thinking.  Thanks.  Mike

Offline Mike Mitchell

  • Posts: 7
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2017, 08:25 PM »
After sharpening up my 2 marples and a Narex (clearly the sharpest) and a couple Stanleys, I bought a 12 mm Fujiwara with a $10 off $25 coupan for a total of $22+ change.  Very economical and I can try out a Japanese chisel.  Thanks for the advice.  Mike

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 909
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2017, 07:02 AM »
... and a Narex I bought in Prague.  These were souvenirs and good buys.  ...

Nice - I also like to bring home woodworking souvenirs from trips - tools and/or wood.  My wife thought it odd when I insisted on bringing home 65lb of colorado and laurel wood from Ecuador in a duffle, and then was miffed the second time I did it :).  I have beech from Germany, hand-made carving tools from Ecuador, and several tools from trips around the US - most recently a Narex rasp from Highland Hardware in Atlanta that got me in trouble with the TSA.  Several times I've brought home boxes of cutoffs - snakewood, gaboon & Macassar ebony, etc. - from LA and San Diego.  The most fun was bringing back imbuia from San Diego, which smells, as a friend of mine called it, like "Raid on a stick".

Glad you were able to try out the Fujiwara before jumping in for the whole set.  Looking forward to your observations on using Japanese chisels vs. western.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 07:06 AM by HarveyWildes »

Offline jdw101

  • Posts: 68
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2017, 12:49 PM »
When it comes to Japanese chisels, I just personally stay away.  I mean these things can go from dirt cheap to 10k for a set of 8 instantly.  It's hard enough to find quality tools you understand but that range just makes you want to heave.

I use a combination of Blue Spruce and Lie Nielsen.  I personally like the Blue Spruce the best but when I bought my chisels Blue Spruce was actually not making them for a year or more and I needed them.  I've since kind of fallen in love with them.  They are A2 like the Blue Spruce and are socket chisels. 

Anyway just wanted to mention how confusing to me Japanese chisels are, they look like fun to use but it's just really confusing for me anyway.

Offline Mike Mitchell

  • Posts: 7
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2017, 02:26 PM »
Tried to bring some chisels home from Cuba but was told by a very fine wood carver that there just aren't any chisels, planes or carving tools available.  They make their own from old iron or remake old tools.  But coming back from Mexico with art made from roots and bark, my wife and I ran into the dreaded A on our declaration sheet.  The agricultural inspection.  Bark is a no no cuz of pests and we just squeaked through as ours was pounded flat and almost transparent.

Offline jdw101

  • Posts: 68
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2017, 10:17 PM »
What are the Mexican chisels like?  Don't believe I have ever seen any.

Offline McNally Family

  • Posts: 615
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Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2017, 01:39 AM »
Tried to bring some chisels home from Cuba but was told by a very fine wood carver that there just aren't any chisels, planes or carving tools available.  They make their own from old iron or remake old tools.  But coming back from Mexico with art made from roots and bark, my wife and I ran into the dreaded A on our declaration sheet.  The agricultural inspection.  Bark is a no no cuz of pests and we just squeaked through as ours was pounded flat and almost transparent.

Years ago when I was in the Navy, I was bringing home wood carvings from Haiti after a port call, and we were required to turn over all wood items purchased onshore so they could be placed in the ships freezer, for the duration of the trip home.  It seems they were all full of little bugs and freezing was the most effective way to kill them.

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Offline waho6o9

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Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2017, 02:26 AM »

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 909
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2019, 11:51 AM »
What are the Mexican chisels like?  Don't believe I have ever seen any.


In Ecuador, towns try to have a specialty for which they are famous.  In San Antonio de Ibarra, it's wood carving.  I have a few carving tools that I bought there from the local tool maker.  He said they were made of "fine German steel".  When I pressed him as to the grade and his sources, he admitted that the steel came from the springs of German cars that had been junked in Quito.  I bought a few anyway.  They sharpen up well, but they are pretty brittle and require careful technique.  Given the high quality of carving in the city where I bought them, it's also a reminder that skilled craftsmen can do amazing things with tools that we would consider unacceptable.  Sometimes I use them to remind myself of that.


I have a son who raced bicycles for a while before he could drive.  At one of his races, a kid from Mexico raced on a heavy Schwinn bike that was well tuned, but far from the cream of the crop.  As he went by among the leaders, I heard one of the race organizers say with admiration that he was the only kid there whose skills were better than his bike.  As a woodworker, I would think that I'd reached some kind of pinnacle if anyone ever said that about me :).


Offline derekcohen

  • Posts: 430
    • In The Woodshop
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2019, 06:52 PM »
One of the problems with a newbie purchasing a hand tool, and then discussing it, is that experience really counts here. This is not intended as a put down or negative statement.

All hand tools perform better in the hands of someone how to get the best from them. Tool steels will perform better if sharp, and what constitutes sharp, and how to achieve it, are for the experienced.

Lrt me say that you are unlikely to get a “good” Japanese chisel under $70, and that this is relatively cheap. If you want to get a couple that will see you through a lifetime, look at Koyamaichi.

Learning to set up a Japanese chisel is just a starter. Sharpening them is another. Using them is yet another stage. The bench chisels are used with a gennou (hammer) - this method aids in precision. And now you are into another world, the world of gennous :)

There is nothing as good as a decent Japanese chisel for edge holding. The PM-V11 steel from Veritas is superb .... far, far, far better than A2 steel. The Veritas bench chisels are amongst the best ... but there is more to a chisel than just the steel. Ergonomics begin with the shape of the handle and the balance of the tool.

Regards from Perth

Derek

Offline derekcohen

  • Posts: 430
    • In The Woodshop
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2019, 05:29 AM »
Some further info from Tools from Japan (no longe in operation).

Based in Miki city, Hyogo and established in 1930, Fujikawa Manufacturing started out making only mortising chisels, which were held in high regard among door and window makers for their dependable, no nonsense quality.

However, with the introduction of metallic windows and doors the demand for such chisels went into decline and Mr. Fujikawa made the decision to start making a more complete line of chisels. However, this was not such a smooth transition. Previously, Fujikawa made chisels were sold under various names, and the brand 'Fujikawa' was a relative unknown amongst craftspersons, but well known and respected by wholesalers and distributors.

Due to this lack of name recognition, Fujikawa have worked tirelessly establishing their name in Japan, and by virtue of having an established market through their existing network of tool distributors, have managed to not only become well known as a full-line chisel maker, but have expanded into other areas with good success.

This unique road has allowed Fujikawa to experiment somewhat, and has resulted in their ability to develop their own unique chisels specifically tailored for different needs.

Starting with a basic grade chisel, intended to be very user friendly in all aspects and foregoing some of the finer details to make them more economical (wallet friendly) to those who may not require the maximum performance available, but still want a good, reliable tool.

Next there are the professional grade chisels, made with specifically selected 'white' steel and made to meet a standard, these chisels are highly regarded by professional craftspersons of all kinds, from the instrument maker to the temple builder. They offer professional performance at a very reasonable price.

Finally, Fujikawa offer a full line of speciaist chisels such as paring chisels, premium hand finished chisels and surprisingly, a line of laminated and forged powder metallurgy high speed steel chisels. Using a specially selected Hitachi patent steel (we don't know, they won't tell us so please don't ask!), these PM HSS chisels are, without question, some of the toughest, most durable chisels available in the world today and made for the most demanding tasks. However, they still possess the core principles of a traditional Japanese chisel being somewhat easy to sharpen with most conventional sharpening methods and capable of taking an exceptionally fine, sharp edge.

While they do not have the established 'name' of some other chisel makers in Japan, they most certainly do have the reputation and we are honoured to be able to provide these quality chisels to the rest of the world.

(As we only order these chisels as they are required and not all listed chisels may not be available at all times, there may be an additional delay between ordering and dispatch of up to 4 weeks. Generally, most chisels are available within 7-14 days and if this is not the case, we will let you know as soon as we know of it. The PM HSS chisels are generally 'made to order', and may take 4-6 weeks between ordering and dispatch.) 


As noted, TFJ are no longer wth us, but the info from Stew Tierney was beyond reproach.

Posted on a train to Vienna

Derek

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 4728
Re: Fujikawa chisels
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2019, 12:23 PM »
Sad to hear about Stu closing shop. He is very knowledgeable on the subject and had a great attitude. While I never bought anything from him I enjoyed reading his posts a great deal.