Kawasei Cabinetmaker's Chisels
Japanese bench chisels can roughly be divided into three categories; machine made mass produced chisels of moderate cost and quality, hand forged chisels of excellent quality, and hand forged Damascus steel chisels that can be of exemplary quality. It should be warned that because of the reputation of Japanese Damascus chisels, this technique is sometimes used to mask chisels of inferior quality. Of course Kawasei chisels are all of superior quality. Mass produced machine made Japanese chisels have no place at The Best Things. Our Kawasei line of forged bevelled cabinetmaker's dovetail chisels are very high-quality Japanese chisels without the very high price of sets made by the most famous makers. Kawasei chisels are laminated, meaning that the cutting edge is made from hardened tool steel laminated onto the body (jigane) of the chisel. The jigane is made from softer steel and acts as the shock absorber, which is what allows the cutting edge to be harder than is possible on homogeneous (made from a single piece of steel) chisels.
We have found that there is a lot of confusion surrounding "white" steel and "blue" steel in the context of Japanese tools. One is not better than the other. They have slightly different qualities and both are used for the best quality chisels. The quality of the tool, and the quality of the steel, is far more important that the choice of steel. We have written a treatise on this topic to help our customers sort the facts from the fiction. Click here to read our essay on Japanese blue and white steel.