Setting Japanese Chisel Hoops

Chisel comes with the hoop on, but not right. It is on tight, first I need to take it off.

Lots of ways you could take it off, I am using a big hammer, a wooden wedge, and a socket wrench socket a bit smaller than the ring. The socket is held in a vise.

With the chisel on the socket, and the wedge at a 45 degree angle, I can hit the ring and loosen it, without marring the steel or the handle. I had to rotate and pound a few times to get it off.

It came off nicely, and did not roll away because of the socket.

Since the plan is to hammer the wood and compress it for the ring, I had to come up with a neat way to do it. The tape is so I can be sure to pound the wood neatly.

I am using a lighter hammer to pound the handle. The anvil is doing the real shaping. I am only tapering the edge with the hammer. The hammer never gets near the tape.

Now I am using a larger socket wrench socket to set the ring. The socket is large enough for the wood part of the handle to fit inside. A few good taps on the back of the socket with my bigger hammer and the ring will be in place.

The ring is on and a rounded, 45 degree bevel is on the back of the wood. This is a sneaky trick I figured out. Does great, looks better, soaks faster.

Now I soak the end to make it swell up. This also softens the wood so it can be shaped a bit without it splitting as much. Since there is a bevel at the base, more endgrain is exposed to absorb water faster.

The wood is showing damp just above the ring now, so it is wet enough for me to work it.

After pounding the end a bit, the wood is flared, but not split. The chamfer allows this to happen.

Up close you can see the flare, This hoop is not going anywhere.

Here it is mostly done, after making some nice deep chisel marks, the end still looks pretty nice!

One final touch. Don’t know how well this mark will hold up. but it is nice to know the size of the chisel I am reaching for.

Here is a frog!

Now It is ready to be tuned. The chisel that is.

The chisels shown are all Kakuri. They hold a wicked edge, and hone pretty easy. Getting them tuned up did not take a lot, and they do quite well. They seem to keep their prime sharpness about half again as long as well tempered O1, however a hard knot in Osage will consistently put a ding in a 30 degree edge. The osage I used is the cruelest test I could come up with. The knot will dull the O1 quickly but no ding is made.

For pine, these chisels will take end grain off and keep going sharp well after the O1 is dull. So for softer woods, these guys rock, For extreme hard woods, like I often use, these guys don’t hack it. Since I mangle a lot of cedar, and these guys are gems when It comes to cedar, I will be using them quite a bit. Cedar can make the occasional hard as rock knot, so I will be careful.

Getting a few Japanese Chisels has opened my eyes. I used to think that there might be a generally perfect chisel, but now I am not so sure. For an all around chisel, O1 is I think better than this example of a laminate chisel. However for some applications, this beats the O1 hands down.


6 comments to Setting Japanese Chisel Hoops

  • Christian

    When you refer to setting a bevel on the exposed chisel base, do you mean you remove material by means of a blade and chamfer the circumference of the chisel? What size of drive socket did you size? Thanks for your time.

  • To remove the ring, I used a deep well impact socket that was just a bit smaller than the inside diameter of the ring. To set the ring, I used a deep well, impact socket that was bigger that the wood, but smaller than the ring. Depending on the chisel, I used different sizes of rings.
    When the ring is set, it leaves something like this on the end.
    Chisel end

    To finish it where is will still flare, but not mushroom or split, I make it look a bit more like this.
    chamfered chisel end

    As I recall, the method I used to do this was to hand spin the tool at an angle, against some 120 grit sand paper. There are probably better ways, since I used to do old school drafting where I sharpened pencils on sand paper pads, this is the method that I usually use for this sort of thing.

    Be sure to check out my further experiments with setting up Japanese Chisels.


  • Jeff Glatz

    here is a simple method for setting up chisels (note the method used to remove the hoop)

  • patrick anderson

    I just wanted to ask where you got the kakuri chisels? I read all your posts about the ones from grizzly but somehow missed this one.

  • Bob Strawn

    Back before Schtoo opened his store, He was bulk buying at clearance sales and passing the savings on to us outside of Japan. I don’t see these particular chisels available in his store, but if this is what you are looking for, I would contact him.


  • patrick anderson


    Thanks for the info. I’ll probably just end up with something that he stocks. I thought you might have found them somewhere over here.

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