Japanese Wood Chisel

Japanese chisels are keenly defined by the laminated blade. The cutting edge (bottom) is a high carbon steel for maximum sharpening capabilities, and the upper edge is a low carbon steel which facilitates shock absorption and makes sharpening easier.

Guidelines shown below are for Primary Bevel Angles & Secondary bevel angles (also known as micro bevel angles). Notes are also available on a different web page for Micro / Secondary Bevels.

Chisel edge nomenclature Chisel edge nomenclature
Primary & Secondary Bevels both ground on a wheel. Primary Bevel ground on a wheel
Secondary Bevels ground on a flat stone

General Guidelines
End Profile
/ Type
Usage Notes
Primary Bevel Secondary (Micro) Bevel

Kaku Uchi
Soft Woods
An old style with only slightly raked sides. This blade profile delivers maximum power for chopping but is less versatile when paring.

Mortise chisels often have this profile.

Hard Woods

Narrow (< 8 mm)

This has longer bevels than the mentori, and the more delicate profile is excellent for paring dovetails but still retains enough mass for effective chopping.
Standard (8 - 25 mm)

Wide (> 25 mm)

Narrow (< 8 mm)

This is the most common blade profile. It combines heft for chopping and striking with side bevels for paring access.
Standard (8 - 25 mm)

Wide (> 25 mm)

Soft Woods

This has a low, wide-beveled blade profile which affords excellent access when paring in tight spaces. It is an un-hooped chisel, not meant for striking.

Crank-neck chisels often have this profile.

Hard Woods

Notes & Comments

Tormek Jig Comments
Square Edge Jig
This is a great jig to use for sharpening chisels, including skewed edges. However shorter chisels won't always work in this jig. If you have some of your grandfather's old chisels around which you want to use (other to open paint cans), consider using the SVH-60.

Note: The SE-77 has replaced this jig and the SE-76 is hard to find.

Square Edge Jig
Some have mentioned that it is a bit tricky to get the alignment correct for chisels using this jig. That said, this jig is very useful for cambering plane blades, so it is useful to have if you sharpen those also.

As with the SE-76, shorter chisels won't always work in this jig. If you have some shorties around which you want to use (other to open paint cans), consider using the SVS-38 or the SVH-60.

Short Tool Jig
This jig is also useful for sharpening chisels where there is not enough length to use either of the two jigs listed above.
Straight Edge Jig
This is the original jig for sharpening chisels and plane blades. It is no longer being made which is unfortunate as it is really great for holding shorter chisels. If you have shorter chisels, consider getting one from the used tools market.

Note: The SE-77 has replaced this jig and the SVH-60 is hard to find.

  • Grind Profile Notes:
  • Secondary Bevel Notes:
    • Some recommend there be no secondary bevel angle.
    • If the user chooses to have a secondary bevel, 2° is recommend as this allows for repeated resharpening by touching up the secondary bevel only. Once this becomes too time consuming (i.e., the secondary bevel becomes too large), then you will have to regrind the primary bevel.

  • Hollow(s) in the Back Face :
  • Other Japanese Chisel Notes:
  • Be sure to coat all newly sharpened surfaces with camelia oil to minimize chances for rust.

Tormek Live Sharpening Class - Part 3 - Chisels, plane irons & Tormek grinding wheels

Sebastien and Wolfgang offer some great tips on the sharpening of chisels & plane irons using the various Tormek grinding wheels, including the use of the diamond wheels.

  • At 00:46, there is a great explanation of sharpening a tool with a radiused end using the SE-77 Square Edge Jig.

  • At 00:52, there is a great explanation of how to use the MB-100 Multi Base.
Tormek Live Sharpening Class - Part 9 - Sharpen a flat bevel with Tormek MB-100 on a diamond wheel

In this episode we learn how to use the Tormek MB-100 Multi Base to sharpen a completely flat bevel ▼, on the side of Tormek's diamond wheels DC-250, DF-250 and DE-250. For some tools, such as 🎻 luthier knives,🔪 Kiridashi knives, v-tools, chip carving knives and Japanese plane irons, a completely flat surface on the bevel is preferred over a slightly concave, which you get when you sharpen on the rounded part of the grinding wheel. For some people this is more of a personal preference.

Regardless of what might be the reason to want a flat bevel, Sèbastian and Wolfgang show how to achieve it with your Tormek wet sharpening system, They will also touch upon the differences between the different types of bevels.

Tormek SE-76 Square Edge Jig
Using the SE-77 Jig to Camber a Plane Blade on the Tormek Sharpener
Tormek SVH-60 Straight Edge Jig
(this jig is no longer sold, but is quite useful for short tools)
Tormek AngleMaster WM-200

Tormek is a copyrighted logo of Tormek AB. Its presentation on this site is used to help the user quickly understand when specific Tormek tools, jigs, or setting are being used. For specific information regarding Tormek AB, or its products, please refer to the www.Tormek.com.

About this site
Remember : The goal of sharpening is to produce sharp tools, and these tools can injure you if mishandled. Safety measures should be followed to protect yourself and those in your shop. Be sure to read and follow all instructions from the manufacturer, and and utilize proper safety equipment. Never consume alcohol or anything that could impair your judgement before sharpening tools, or using sharp tools. Comments can be sent via eMail to me at SharpeningHandbook@Gmail.com.