Dieter Schmid's Fine Tools
Japanese Firmer Chisels

Japanese Firmer Chisels

Japanese firmer chisels are essentially made in the same way as Japanese chisels. The cutting edge is made of a hard steel which is forge welded to a softer stronger iron back. This method is grounded in tradition, and allows the use of very high quality steels in the smaller, artisanal, smithies which even today produce most high-quality Japanese chisels in their wide variety of forms and designs. Some smithies are familiar to Western woodworkers, but most market their tools only in Japan. This has meant that lately, in practice, some companies or brands have developed a good reputation in the West while others remain unknown, but this says little about the relative quality of the tools. Mostly one can say that among the Japanese chisel smiths, price is a very good indicator of quality. One difference is that some Japanese makers that market chisels in the West have often slightly modified their tools to better match Western expectations and working methods. For instance, traditionally, one must finish fitting the ferrule to the wooden handle, and mushroom the edges of the wood over to hold it in place, but now this is often done by the manufacturer. The smiths have also adjusted their products to the demand for a higher level of finish on the blades to reduce sharpening/tune-up time before their customers can use the chisels.

For ten years Fine Tools has been offering a very high quality line of chisels made by Master Matsumura with a cutting edge made of the finest "white paper steel" under the brand name Koshimitsu. So we are very happy to be able to add these robust firmer chisels or "atsu-nomi" which are made to the same extraordinary standard, to our store. Like other Japanese chisels, these firmer chisels feature a hollow back, which greatly reduces the effort and time needed to flatten and hone the chisel's back. By the way - as one reworks the back of hollow-ground chisels, the flat edge also moves back into the hollow, so that with normal sharpening methods, you never loose the vital flat area on the rear side of the cutting edge.

We would also like to remark upon our firmer chisels made of High Speed Steel. For a long time it was impossible to get chisels made of HSS, as the alloy was not fine-grained enough to be able to put a really sharp edge on the blade. But lately they have developed a HSS fine grained enough to make a useful chisel. With the high carbon steels usually found in high-end chisels, it is relatively easy to chip or break the thin, brittle edge if the tool is misused, but these HSS chisels we offer are notable for their toughness. It does require a bit more work to achieve a good edge, however.

Atsu Nomi - Heavy Japanese Firmer Chisels Without Side Bevels
These are heavy, strong chisels made with very hard "white paper steel" edges for all heavy carpentry work. This steel allows the sharpest edge! The blades are about 7 mm thick at the end of the edge bevel and about 12 mm at the beginning of the shaft. They are crafted by Master Matsumura in Yoita City, Niigata Province, Japan under his brand "Koshimitsu"
Hardness 64 HRC
Total length 29 - 30 cm
Blade length 9 cm
Bevel 32 - 35°
Handle diameter 22 - 28 mm

Blade width CodePrice
9 mm
Code 309522CartPrice € 64.00
12 mm
Code 309523CartPrice € 68.00
15 mm
Code 309524CartPrice € 72.00
18 mm
Code 309525CartPrice € 75.00
24 mm
Code 309526CartPrice € 84.00
Damekiri - Heavy Japanese Firmer Chisels With Side Bevels
These are heavy, strong chisels made with very hard "white paper steel" edges for all heavy carpentry work. This steel allows the sharpest edge! The blades are about 6 - 7 mm thick at the end of the edge bevel and about 11 - 12 mm at the beginning of the shaft. The 6 -24 mm wide blades have a single scoop "Ura" on the mirror side and the 30 - 51 mm wide blades have a double scoop. They are crafted by Master Matsumura in Yoita City, Niigata Province, Japan under his brand "Koshimitsu"
Hardness 64 HRC
Total length 31 cm
Blade length 9 cm
Bevel 27 - 30°
Handle diameter from 22 mm (3 mm chisel) to 30 mm (51 mm chisel)

Blade width CodePrice
9 mm
Code 309531CartPrice € 67.00
12 mm
Code 309532CartPrice € 72.00
15 mm Currently not in stock!
Code 309533Cart Price € 76.00
18 mm Currently not in stock!
Code 309534Cart Price € 79.00
24 mm
Code 309535CartPrice € 87.00
30 mm
Code 309536CartPrice € 95.00
36 mm Currently not in stock!
Code 309537Cart Price € 104.00
51 mm Currently not in stock!
Code 309538Cart Price € 121.00
Japanese High Speed Steel Firmer Chisels
"Tataki Nomi"

Until recently, no chisels were made of high-speed steel, because the material was too coarse-grained to take a truly sharp edge. However, manufacturers have now succeeded in producing high-speed steel sufficiently fine-grained to take and hold an edge. These chisels can be sharpened to a very fine edge but their outstanding feature is their ruggedness. Carbon steel blades can be nicked fairly easily if not properly used. High-speed steel chisels, on the other hand, will take abuse with little concern that the blade will be damaged. They do require, however, slightly more effort to sharpen than carbon steel.
Hardness 65 - 66 HRC
Length 29 cm (11-3/8 inch)
Diameter of handle 25 - 27 mm
Enlargement and detail of iron hoop

Blade width CodePrice
15 mm
Code 310013CartPrice € 58.00
24 mm
Code 310014CartPrice € 64.00
30 mm
Code 310015CartPrice € 68.00
36 mm
Code 310016CartPrice € 73.00
42 mm
Code 310017CartPrice € 79.00
48 mm
Code 310018CartPrice € 89.00
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