Kikuhiromaru Chisels - An Ode
Mitch kept blathering on about these things, so we asked him to just write it down and be done with it.
Every time I use a Kikuhiromaru chisel, I smile a little. These beauties are everything I love about my job.
Having read about this chisel brand in many places over the years, but never having seen them for myself, getting the opportunity to order them was a "pinch-worthy" moment.
When they finally arrived, we had these chisels around the JTA workshop for about 3 months before getting them online. I started using them, and they began to teach me. Customers who called up asking for a chisel recommendation had to endure me ranting about the things. I'm sure they thought I was frothing at the mouth.
To their credit, many listened, and the Kikus began to make their way out into the wilds of Australia, where unforgiving hardwoods abound and hairy chested blokes mutter "she'll be right" before picking up a lump hammer for fine adjustment work.
Setup on these chisels is a joy. Caught short of two 12mm chisels for a class, I rushed two Kikus to the stones. The hoops are set at the factory, so no time to put in there for the moment.
I got the backs lapped and polished, flipped them over and ran the bevels through a couple of grits, and gave them a test. Wow - super sharp. And only half an hour had elapsed - to set up two chisels! I was mightily impressed.
They bashed out a few of mortices each in silky oak over a 3 hour evening session, and still cut beautifully at evening's end. Signs were promising.
Then came the true test. A Melbourne customer looking for a new set of chisels sent us in a block of Crow's Ash, aka Australian Teak. "Just give them a go on that," he said, cackling with glee, "I'm making a bench out of it, and it's a right #!%&@."
I pulled open his package and my heart. Ever dreamed of sinking your painstakingly prepared chisels into a telegraph pole? No, me neither. I took a deep breath and marked out some mortices.
Well, the Kikuhiromaru killed it. The trusty 12mm and a big old 570g genno sunk a mortice with no trouble at all. 14mm wide, 30mm long and 50mm deep. No drilling, no routing, no electrons - just a chisel, just as we like it.
How did the Kiku end up? Cherry ripe and ready to go again. Still with a great edge, albeit not shaving, but with no burrs and certainly no chips. It left a beautiful finish on the end grain, and would have probably done another one if the user's arm wasn't about to fall out of it's socket. Bloody hard timber, that.
Need I wax lyrical any longer? These things are the duck's guts, and I love 'em. After seeing what they can do in that torture test, I am happy recommend them to any one, at any time, using any timber. Thinking your tools are good is one thing, but knowing it to your bones is another - and that's why I smile whenever I pick up a Kiku.