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Occasionally, I get asked by people wanting to get started in Japanese woodworking what tools they should buy first (or ask for for Christman). While I’m sure there will be some disagreement, this is where I would and did start.
-Len Cullum

Chisels – bench (Oire-nomi) About $70 each

Four or five bench chisels in the 1/8″ – 1″ range is a great starting point. They don’t have to be the best you can find, but shouldn’t be the cheapest either. A nice middle-ground brand will be your best bet. They won’t frustrate you by not holding an edge as is common with cheaper chisels, and you won’t be (quite as) heartbroken if you drop and chip one that cost a couple of hundred dollars.

Chisels – paring (Tsuki-nomi) About $70

For finer work it’s often nice to have a longer handled push chisel on hand. Go for the same sizes and quality as the bench chisels.

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

  • http://jakespurlock.com/ Jake Spurlock

    Awesome guide, thanks for posting. I would love to get into joinery. Need to accrue a few things first… :)

  • http://lrwickerdesign.net/ lrwickerdesign

    I was fortunate to take a Basic Woodworking course with Toshio Odate in NYC at Pratt one year. He embodied the Japanese approach to craft and I have often thought of him when I create and build my works. I am glad to see your collection of books contains several of his works and they continue to be used by current craftsmen today.

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