Kikuhiromaru (JT Recommended!)

Kikuhiromaru - One of my top three recommended chisel makers, the 3Ks.

Many years ago, I have done this extensive test which I learned from a very famous super star chisel smith, Funatsu Funahiro-san. It was a test that puts so much stress intentionally, testing various aspects of the chisels, which are, sharpness, durability, and ease of sharpening.

After this test I was literally shocked to find out that some of the very famous chisels weren't as good as I have believed... (chipped much easier and deeper than the best ones which didn't chip at all, when much harder to sharpen), and at the end of the test, four chisels just simply stood out.

They were, now my most recommended 3Ks (*) and of course Funahiro (Japanese Genjyu model.) The chisels from the past, Tsunehiro, Kiyotada, and of course Ichihiro were all very good, but Kikuhiromaru is as good as or slightly better than these three giants from the past performance wise, and Konobu, Kiyohisa and Funahiro are even noticeably better, Konobu being as good or even better in the finish to Ichihiro.

*The 3Ks: Konobu and Kiyohisa, these two were totally understandable that they stood out so much, for example, the fact that Kiyohisa-san's waiting time is now more than 4 years just shows how good his tools are. There is a legion of his fanatic fans/followers in Japan, including myself.... But to my great surprise, third came Kikuhiromaru!!! which I used to think was an economy level tool maker due to the affordability, i.e. very short wait, and the super ultra affordable price. Now Kikuhiromaru is undoubtedly my best selling chisels thru my main site, because I recommend them so~~~~~~~~~~~~~ much. Unless people insist on waiting for four years for Kiyohisa, or half year for Konobu, I pretty much always recommend and sell Kikuhiromaru. And because of that, because I order so much to Kikuhiromaru, I have a very good rapport with Nagayoshi-san, which means a lot when it comes to human made tools.

As Kiyohisa chisels are all back ordered for ma~~~ny many years (Those of you who are waiting, I'm so sorry for the long wait!), I can only sell the occasional cancelled items thru my main site. Konobu, not as long wait, but still takes about half year, and they are quite expensive, so as a small fry like myself, I cannot at the moment afford to stock too many of their tools, so for now, I would like to recommend to the users who trust my recommendation, all the Kikuhiromaru tools.

Trust me! These are one of the very very very best chisels from Japan!!! All users who got Kikuhiromaru tools from me so far have always been very impressed, and most usually came back for more. So please! don't be fooled by their affordable prices! At the moment, the terrible quality photos are making them look horrible, but they are much much better looking in actual life. My father had to shoot them in a hurry, hence the terrible photos. He will take better photos and update soon. Kikuhiromaru's chisels are quite nicely finished with even and thick black oxide film.

En passant, pls read below article that I wrote a while ago (revised a bit afterwards.) I'm sure you all will find it interesting. Ah, but when you read it you might get the impression that Blue Steel is inferior, but that's totally not the case, especially when it comes to Konobu and Kikuhiromaru. It's just that many people tend to believe that BS tools are ALWAYS superior because they are usually a bit more expensive and the fact that it's an alloy, but that is just so not true. This was what I wanted to convey in my below article. Only when skilled smiths use it and spend enough attention and effort, BS make very very good tools "depending on the usage", for example if you will make many many mortises in one go, will work only with very hard woods, or if you will plane very hard wood with a tate-ganna (scraper plane) then alloy blades will shine, but other than that, normally pure carbon steel tools are better.

===

On Japanese Chisels

Japanese chisels are normally handmade, so the price tend to be a bit more expensive compared to factory made western chisels to begin with. So think maybe double to get an equal overall quality to western chisels with Japanese. If you spend $40 on a J chisel, it should be half the quality of $40 western chisel. Something like that. The steel itself would probably be harder, but overall fit and finish should definitely be worse.

Basically you can roughly divide into three what you are paying for, one is the performance, two the finish, and lastly the rarity.

Unless you are a collector of rare tools, you'd probably want to be paying 70% for the performance 30% for the fit, and none for the rarity.

The quality of the steel performance greatly differ between more expensive ones and economy tools, probably more so than you would imagine, even when the two use the same material/steel type. It's like food, where two chefs use same materials and ingredients, one can taste much better if the chef's skill is better than the others. So I suggest not to choose just with the steel type. I can't emphasize this enough. Price is basically the easiest factor for you to refer to, the rest you might want to talk with the shop and see what would suit your need.

There are soft as butter Blue Steel tools and super hard and long lasting White Steel tools (these are of course more expensive, but Kikuhiromaru chisels are just that!!!) The general belief that alloys are longer lasting is not always true. This is true only after certain level, and reversed again after another certain level. Believe it or not, the longest lasting (staying sharp longer, not staying longer after dulled) tools are not the alloys but carbon steel tools.

So again, basically the price should tell you the quality. $40 blue steel chisels would be softer and shorter lasting compared to $70 white steel chisels. Blue steel is 30% more expensive compared to White steel because it has more expensive non-ferum substances in it, so if you are getting economy tools, I recommend getting white steel tools, because that way you're paying more for the final quality of the tool (skill of the blacksmith) rather than on the raw material.

Lower quality blue steel tools are not "longer lasting", but "longer lasting after it gets dulled (Kiyhohisa-san put it this way, "Alloys last long with acceptable/bearable sharpness. (我慢できる切れ味が長く続く。Gaman dekiru kireaji ga nagaku tsuzuku.)")", and yet harder to sharpen. Do you see what I mean? This is because the steel molecule is not fine and carbons not dispersed evenly.

Imagine cement to ceramics. Better tools are like ceramics, finer in the grain (fine carbides = Fe + C) so they are easier to sharpen (the grains/carbides itself cannot be ground, but the grains can/will "fall off". That is what you are doing when sharpening) and can be sharpened to extreme sharpness (smaller pieces to construct the edge), whereas lower quality tools are like cement where there are many larger molecules which tend to break off (again because carbides cannot be cut with stones) resulting as a chip after one strike and doesn't get sharp (again because the carbides cannot be sharpened). So there's a good reason for the expensive price at least maybe up to 15000JPY for a 24mm, after that it starts to become about the fine finish, and after 30000JPY it's about rarity. So unless you go over 15000JPY for 24mm, this is my opinion so there might be many who disagree, but I think every cent is well paid contributing basically solely to the performance.

I'd have to go deep into metallurgy in order to fully explain to the level where you can actually "feel/imagine" the difference, but in short best tools can be super hard and durable yet very easy to sharpen (very contradicting) while lower quality tools can be hard to sharpen and brittle or soft. This difference, you'd only believe when you actually experience, and to make things complicated, some expensive and famous tools can be like the latter....

If you work with harder woods, you might want to consider the quality of the chisel a bit, because it is really frustrating to be using soft tools on hard woods. Sometimes it is basically useless, one bang and the edge is gone.

But then again, skilled smiths always say "Any tool can cut hardwoods, it's the softwoods that's tough." So perhaps for intricate and accurate softwood working requires the very best of the tools.



Product Image Item Name- Price
Kikuhiromaru 24mm BS#2 Nankin-ganna (Cabinet Maker's Plane)

Kikuhiromaru 24mm BS#2 Nankin-ganna (Cabinet Maker's Plane)

The one shown above. Those of you who got Kikuhiromaru nomis from me and are infatuated with Nagayoshi-san's unbelievable forging skill, I'm sure you...
JPY11,960

Add:

Kikuhiromaru 30mm BS#2 Nankin-ganna (Cabinet Maker's Plane)

Kikuhiromaru 30mm BS#2 Nankin-ganna (Cabinet Maker's Plane)

The one shown above. Those of you who got Kikuhiromaru nomis from me and are infatuated with Nagayoshi-san's unbelievable forging skill, I'm sure you...
JPY12,480

... more info
Sold Out

Kikuhiromaru 30mm WS#1 Nankin-ganna (Cabinet Maker's Plane)

Kikuhiromaru 30mm WS#1 Nankin-ganna (Cabinet Maker's Plane)

The one shown below. Those of you who got Kikuhiromaru nomis from me and are infatuated with Nagayoshi-san's unbelievable forging skill, I'm sure you...
JPY12,220

... more info
Sold Out

Kikuhiromaru 70mm WS#1 Kanna with Signed Kiri Box

Kikuhiromaru 70mm WS#1 Kanna with Signed Kiri Box

This item has just been ordered to Kikuhiromaru, actual item's photos to come. Just a sample for now. This one is by Shoji-san, former head smith of...
JPY58,600

... more info
Sold Out

Kikuhiromaru 60mm WS#1 Kanna with Signed Kiri Box

Kikuhiromaru 60mm WS#1 Kanna with Signed Kiri Box

This item has just been ordered to Kikuhiromaru, pls allow about a month or so to be ready. Actual item's photos to come. Just a sample for now. This...
JPY55,000

... more info
Sold Out

Kikuhiromaru 54mm WS#1 Kanna

Kikuhiromaru 54mm WS#1 Kanna

This item has just been ordered to Kikuhiromaru, pls allow about a month or so to be ready. Actual item's photos to come. Just a sample for now. This...
JPY39,260

... more info
Sold Out

Kikuhiromaru 48mm WS#1 Kanna

Kikuhiromaru 48mm WS#1 Kanna

This is the one on far right from the group photo shown in 18mm's page. === Those of you who got Kikuhiromaru nomis from me and are infatuated with...
JPY16,000

... more info
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Kikuhiromaru 42mm WS#1 Kanna

Kikuhiromaru 42mm WS#1 Kanna

This is the second one from right, from the group photo shown in 18mm's page. === Those of you who got Kikuhiromaru nomis from me and are infatuated...
JPY14,755

... more info
Sold Out

Kikuhiromaru 30mm WS#1 Kanna

Kikuhiromaru 30mm WS#1 Kanna

This is the third one from left, from the group photo shown in 18mm's page. === Those of you who got Kikuhiromaru nomis from me and are infatuated...
JPY14,000

... more info
Sold Out

Kikuhiromaru 36mm WS#1 Kanna

Kikuhiromaru 36mm WS#1 Kanna

This is the second one from right, from the group photo shown in 18mm's page. Those of you who got Kikuhiromaru nomis from me and are infatuated with...
JPY14,000

... more info
Sold Out



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