Get it in Japan!

There's people who like to know in advance what they are getting. Others, and I am amongst those, like surprises.

Getting tools from companies suck big time. They are expensive, reliable and they come reviewed. Wait, two of those sound like a good thing. 

I get my tools second hand. Not only because they are cheap, that they are, but because I found it real fun. Plus, I get the feeling I'm saving some steel from becoming rust before its time is over. 

What follows is the rationale behind my shopping behaviour, which I think it's very useful. Or ask the shingle maker how did he like my chisels. 

First rule, is get a few. It's not worth to get just one or two saws, or one chisel. It's always better to wait for a nice set to appear (or an expensive pair if you are into that). This is my last winning bid:

That's the first image I see and I like it.  the two lower look like crap and the top two are not really for that handle, but that makes it even more interesting. Why the dude changed them? What kind of work was he doing? The second saw looks like a real kataba while the fourth a ryoba transformed. Dozuki are always fun and you don't get them for less than 20000 yen (20usd). 

That takes me 5 second to think in my mind and then I click on the add. 

Btw, when I clicked it was in 1300 yen and 4 days to go, so not sure how much they will go. 

So, looking at the details. 

I like the round of the saw, looks well made.

The second pictures was more telling, even though I just realise about it. See something special? Not the kanji

Indeed, the welding line. Reminds me of a beautiful saw that was hammered very close to final thickness. I sign of skill I think.

Third picture, and here I was sold.

WTF is this? A replaceable blade with signed neck? I need to see what that is.  

Intuition told me 3000 yen is a good price. I told Murakami to get them for 3500 yen because I'm smart. It went for 3100 yen (31 usd).  What's that, 5 euro per saw? Peanuts. 

Now the chisels. Or slicks but the same applies to any kind of chisel.

This is the auction, I bid 15000 only and I was real lucky. Should have gone at least for 18000

First picture, crapy, crapy picture

The square on top is unreadable so no idea the scale of these chisels.

Second picture, the same poor quality.

Now, In this case I'm bidding for two chisels. The second and third from the top. The others come as presents. I would happily pay 60 euros for each one of those. Note that there is no close up of the signature, the lamination line, the wood of the handles. It's pure gut feeling here. They have the aura of good made chisels.

When I won them, Murakami sent me a proper picture with an iphone for the scale.

Including the saws, this was a 3.6kg package. The rosewood handle one is almost an iphone wide, please convert to inches.

Then next picture and I was already salivating for the good deal I had.

Lot's of signatures, beautiful lines, shining haganes and clean handles. What else could I want at ca 30 euros each? That's what a new 9mm chisel in dictum costs.

When they arrived, I could not believe. They are massive. Get real sharp. Look beautiful.

Is it white, blue, red or pink steel? Who cares. Would you notice anyway? I could do a spark test, but what for? I rather play with them and see how each develop, sharpens, and cuts. They are presents.

Unless you are so skilled that you know really well what you are looking for in a chisel, I think it doesn't matter at all what you get. Whatever you get will teach you something.

It's a bit like friends, you don't read a review of them before having a good talk, you just meet and see how it goes. For me it's something like that.


  1. Another note of thanks, to you my friend!

    To others out there, Sebastian sent me the uppermost of the big tsuki-nomi from the pictures, knowing how desperate I am for a big chisel to assist my timber joinery endeavors. Just this one chisel would cost between $130-180 new, so when Sebastian talks of getting spreading your dollars further by buying used tools directly from Japan, there can be no argument. And it's fun!

    The buying agent that Sebastian mentioned, Murakami, also sells on eBay (Sakura-pink) and is a pleasure to deal with. Supremely honest and a genuinely good person. No worries whatsoever.

    And a final note......the Kataba saws with the funny transverse handles are just a different way to grip the saw blade. A fairly common way to attach a handle, but it sure doesn't look as nice. It is much easier to grip the saw with the handle oriented this way, though, and works well for powering through the planks. The saw with the breasted tooth line is for kerfing the joint between two hull planks, a boat builder's saw I believe, and some guys would bend the protruding saw tang out of the way. " You'll poke your eye out!", haha.

    Two nice hauls, I'm envious!

    Jason Thomas

  2. Hi Seb, care to explain the way you do your Japanese shopping? I tried to find the info on your blog but had no luck.... Details/links would be highly appreciated! Thanks in advance :)


      I always link to buyee since I somehow find it easier to look there than in yahoo auction, but the idea is that you tell Murakami (the guy behind RK-Trading) you want something, he makes you a quote, you pay by paypal, and he bids. If you win he ships, if you loose you get your money back.

  3. Thanks Seb, wish me some luck with their alphabet :)

    1. send pics of what you get!

      good luck, or use chrome, right click, translate to english ;)