Master Akio Tasai’s Shinogi 18mm chisel is what we call a dovetail chisel, which features a high or proud center ridge sloping away equally to both sides of the blade. Because of the blade’s thin sides, this chisel can get into places a standard bench chisel cannot, hence the name shinogi, but it is also fully capable of performing all the tasks expected of a regular bench chisel. Master Tasai uses a special high-carbon blue steel for the bottom or cutting layer of each chisel, because he feels it is ideal for cutting North American hardwoods. He then forge-welds this layer to a backing or top of alternating layers of hard and soft steel, eventually twisting and extending the steel to create the shank. The alternating layers create the Damascus look, but the creation of the Mokume or exposed layers on top of each chisel is something only he does. Master Tasai then individually hand tempers each chisel to HRC65 and attaches the best quality Japanese Red Oak handle. This chisel will stand up to the heaviest work in any wood. Each chisel bears Master Tasai’s mark.
“Mokume” or “Mokume-dane” is a metalworking process developed by Master Tasai to produce a mixed-metal laminate with a distinctive layered pattern. Mokume translates to “wood grain metal” or “wood eye metal.” It is time-consuming undertaking, but the result is remarkably beautiful with no two chisels exhibiting the same pattern and each as much a work of art as it is a woodworking tool.