Why Japanese Tools Are Special

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What is special about Japanese tools that sets them apart from their western counterparts?

Five qualities come to mind: tradition, tool design that offers centuries of tried and proven use, unmatched craftsmanship, the steel used, and, of course, the pure beauty of the tools.


Japanese tools have a long, storied history that dates back centuries to the Japanese sword makers whose tradition involves a bit of the mystic.


Japanese tool design has been proven superior over time, while generating much discussion. The Japanese theory of tool use contends that it is more efficient and productive to use a “pull” motion or stroke, which takes advantage of the lower muscles of the body. With this in mind, the Japanese, over the centuries, developed simple tools that are designed to get the job done as efficiently as possible using the pulling motion. Hand planes and saws top the list of tools used with a pull stroke.

Master Blacksmith Shigezo Matsumora

Steel Used

There is so much that can be said about steel that it really requires a separate blog. However, for our discussion today, it is important to note that how steel is worked and how it is tempered make the difference as far as tool quality and value, how durable it is, and how well it holds a sharp edge. The Japanese have mastered the science of making hand tools.


Of course, you cannot overlook the fact that Japanese tools are simply beautiful. Damascus knives and chisels invite the eye to just stare at them and the mind to wonder how the craftsman made the Damascus pattern. Japanese Master Blacksmiths have spent decades learning their trade, and a machine cannot replicate the products they make or the look they achieve. It is a skill that very few can master.

So, my friends, enjoy using your Japanese tools and treasure them for what makes them special. 
At Japan Woodworker, we continue to bring on new tools, while always making sure that we offer the classic and traditional Japanese tools that have earned an amazing reputation for quality and performance.


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