Japanese chisels differ from their western equivalents in several interesting ways. Most notably, Japanese chisels are forged from a laminated fusion of hardened tool steel and a softer, more shock absorbing wrought iron. This melding of metals offers the woodworker some very important practical advantages over western style chisels — and there are other differences too.

In this video introduction to the Japanese chisel, cabinetmaker Craig Vandall Stevens describes the important characteristics of Japanese chisels and why he is a proponent of their use. Craig is an expert in the use of Japanese tools and he instructs on the topic throughtout the United States and Japan. I wouldn’t be surprised if after watching this video, you aren’t enticed to shop around for your own set. (4 Minute Woodworking Video)

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Precisely cut handmade dovetails are a thing of beauty and a mark of true craftsmanship. But achieving a perfect joint only comes from careful attention to the process. One key step is the chopping away of waste wood between the saw kerfs. Typically, this is accomplished with a sharp chisel and skilled hands, but there are tricks to increasing your accuracy.

Master cabinetmaker Craig Vandall Stevens is exacting in how he cuts dovetails — and the results show. He achieves his high level of precision partly by using a simply-made, but carefully thought out, chopping block guide. Made from Hickory, this guide provides an accurate 90 degree vertical reference face for aligning the chisel. You can make this block and learn how to use it in just a few minutes. So why not give Craig’s method a try? (5 Minute Woodworking Video)

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