I’ve been supplied a pair of Japanese bench chisels, or o-ire-nomi (お入れ鑿). The word nomi means chisel, and the word o-ire means ‘(honorable) housing’. These are your basic workaday chisels for the majority of woodworking tasks. Not ideally what a timber framer might choose, but perfect for furniture and cabinetmaking work.
The chisels are of two brands not normally seen much outside of Japan – Yamahiro 山弘 (on the left) and Kunitoshi 國寿(right):
Both chisels are brand names. Yamahiro chisels are made by a blacksmith called Okayama, Takeshi (岡山 猛), and Kunitoshi chisels are made by a smith by the name of Takeishi, Horioshi (武石博). Both smiths specialize in making chisels.
The smith Okayama was born in 1934. His forge is located in the famous tool production center of Miki City, Niigata. Here’s a view of this Yamahiro 24mm bench chisel:
A closer view of the top side with mei:
It seems a well-proportioned chisel. It is made from White Steel #1.
At this point the lacquer is still on so the view is not truly representational, but the ura is nicely defined, and evenly shaped:
The striking ring, or katsura 冠 (note: katsura is a non-standard reading for the character, which means ‘crown’) is beautifully faceted with a filed finish:
The label reads ‘shin-tsuke‘, which means the handle, of white oak, is made from a branch and contains the pith of the branch. Handles made with that part of the tree are reputed to resist splitting better and are an extra-cost option on Japanese chisels. I’ll provide a price breakdown of both these chisels in the next post.
Mr. Takeishi was born in 1949 and became a deshi (apprentice) when he was 15 years old. He received a national award for craftsmanship in 2009 and his forge is located, like many of Japan’s top blacksmiths, in Yoita Village near Tsubame City, Niigata Prefecture.
Here’s a look at his chisel with red oak handle, the blade made of White Steel #2:
The mei on the upper part of the head are stamped with a slight misalignment:
The ura of the Kunitoshi chisel:
Nice and even.
The striking ring:
I’m a bit busy with a project at the moment but in a few days I’ll prepare the chisels for use and put them through their paces, with a detailed report to follow.