Japanese Woodworking Tools – Where To Buy
So you’re thinking of trialing your hand at Japanese joinery and need to acquire some relevant and suitable tools. The key is to tread softly, softly, at the early onset of your new hobby; as the artisanal quality of Japanese tools can be very tempting and equally expensive. Instead of rushing out and spending big bucks on a large variety of sizes and styles of tool, instead it would be wise to acquire a select few tools that are moderately priced, affording you the opportunity to test the waters, before you buy that $1000 dollar set of chisels.
See below a list of recommended Japanese tools and sizes for a beginner:
- A range of chisels or Nomi (3-5 different sizes, maybe 9,15, 30mm)
- A fine hand saw (Double-tooth or Ryoba – 250mm length)
- A fine block plane or Kan-na (50mm width)
In his book Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit and Use Toshio Odate explains Shokunin, master Japanese craftsman, are taught that each stroke of the saw, each shaving of the plane and each cut of the chisel are vital, requiring great concentration because each mark is permanent. Thin kerf saws that cut on the pull stroke, laminated chisel blades engineered for superb sharpening and thoughtfully designed marking tools and hammers have been the hallmarks of Japanese woodworking tools for centuries. While many Japanese woodworking traditions remain elusive to the western world, their tools are available to enrich your path to becoming a master woodworker.
Listed is a growing compilation of resources to help you find your tools. In Australia the options to source Japanese woodworking tools isn’t huge, but there is a couple of retailers who do specialise in and subsequently present a nice range of Japanese style chisels and planes;
Australian Japanese tool sellers:
Stockists of general woodworking tools do and will surprise you, the following (who, I’m sure you might have heard of before) have a small selection Japanese tools mixed in with their large assortment of western style woodworking tools:
Of course if you’ve got the time to do some research, time to wait for shipping and a little extra cash in your pocket to pay for shipping. Online international retailing … has changed the face of the Australian Retail Trade division, representing a paradigm shift in the way consumers make transactions… which applies to Japanese tools too.
International online resources:
This is a growing resource for furniture makers and woodworkers. If you have experiences (positive or negative) with these retailers of woodworking tools or experiences with the tools themselves, leave your comments below. Similarly if you feel I have neglected an important resource, let me know in a comment below or via email and I will add it to the list, for all to view.