Guitar building tips

Japanese tools

Japanese toos

Japanese chisels (1) have an extremely fine blade that is hammered onto a softer metal core while the metal is in a red-hot state. This way of making leads to blows being softened and allows for the metal of the blade to be very hard and brittle. Japanese chisels are extremely sharp, but also very sensitive. This is why they should only be used for fine, intricate work. Only use Japanese waterstones for sharpening such chisels.

Japanese saws (2) have a particularly fine blade that allows making very fine cuts. During use the teeth point towards the user and the saw has to be pulled. If such a thin saw had to be used like a Western one, it would immediately bend; but because it is pulled it remains straight. Since discovering it I have used only this type of saw for precision-cutting.
There are two types of Japanese saws: one with stiffened back and teeth suited for making both cross-grain and along-the-grain cuts (2, right), and another with slightly wider-set teeth on one edge for making cuts along the grain and finer-set teeth on the other edge for cuts across the grain (2, left). This second type allows making deeper cuts. The sawblades of the saws shown in the picture above can be replaced if necessary.

Excerpt from my book Building Electric Guitars

Order the book
"Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit, and Use " at

About | Impressum