I was browsing on eBay one evening last week and I came across a Japanese mortising chisel that no one had bid on. I used Gixen to place the bid for me and I won the auction for the opening bid of $7. The seller was in Japan, but shipping was a very reasonable $5. So for a whopping $12 I had a new chisel in route.
I got home from work today and found it waiting for me in my mailbox. That was fast!
It had some surface rust and looked as though someone had given it a cursory cleaning with some fine sand paper. It was quite dirty and grungy.
The back of the chisel showed a little abuse. It was worn unevenly, wasn’t flat, had some minor (very light) pitting, and the bevel wasn’t square to the tool. No problem, that’s all easy to fix.
My extra-coarse diamond stone wasn’t removing material very quickly, so I went to 120 grit adhesive backed sandpaper on a granite reference slab. I then went to 320 grit paper, and on to the water stones, finishing on my Norton 8000.
The back polished up beautifully and has a mirror finish. I ground a new primary bevel and squared it to the tool, then honed a micro bevel also on the Norton 8000.
The rest of the metal was polished with a buffer wheel on my bench grinder after masking off the wood. I removed any polish residue with some alcohol and paper towels. Lastly, I rubbed down the wooden handle with a 3M Scotch-Brite pad and some Watco Danish Oil. I let it sit for a few minutes and then wiped off all the excess.
The chisel is a little less than 5/8ths wide. Somewhere around 14-15mm. Once I had cleaned it up the below markings were revealed more clearly. Can anyone shed any light on what they mean?
For $12 and an hour and a half of labor, I think I got a pretty good chisel. It should now be good for a few more years of service.
More on the workbench build soon.
– Jonathan White