The Varieties of Japanese Chisels Part 8 – The Atsunomi (厚鑿)

“Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures.”


In a previous post, we looked at various types of oiirenomi (bench chisels) and mortise chisels. In this post we will examine a type of tatakinomi called the “Atsunomi.”

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Comparison of 42mm Mentori Oiirenomi and 50mm Atsunomi, both by Kiyotada


The ”Atsunomi, ” written 厚鑿, translates to “thick chisel.” This is the largest variety of tatakinomi and is almost identical in design to its petite oirenomi sisters. Being larger, heavier and stronger it is able to transmit and endure the impact forces of heavy hammer blows from sunup to sundown and cut a lot of wood. Indeed, I can remember times when the handles of the 24mm and 30mm Kiyotada atsunomi in the photographs on this page became seriously hot after long hours of heavy hammer blows.

The 24mm chisel in the photograph below was the first atsunomi I owned. All three of the Kiyotada atsunomi chisels shown herein have seen hard use with heavy hammers, but have held up well.

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24mm Atsunomi by Kiyotada (face) Japanese White Oak handle
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30mm Atsunomi by Kiyotada (face) Japanese Red Oak handle. Definitely a Tokyo chisel.
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30 mm Atsunomi – Kiyotada (ura)

If I can liken the bench chisel or oiirenomi to a 1/4″ cordless hand drill, then the atsunomi is a 9 amp 1/2″ corded drill (when combined with the right steel hammer). Serious business indeed.


The atsunomi is ideal for heavy work such as timber framing and wasting large amounts of wood quickly. However, carpenters are not the only trade to use them. Many professional craftsmen in Japan, even those that never work on construction sites, prefer to use atsunomi even for delicate work because of their relatively longer blades, greater durability, and cost-effectiveness.

Because of its greater size and weight, the atsunomi is not as nimble as the smaller varieties of tataki nomi and demand greater strength and skill of the user. But on the other hand, it is very stable in the cut and wastes wood with oodles of gravitas.

As with all tataki nomi, the handle is big enough to use with one hand, but not two. Atsunomi always have a mild steel katsura crown installed at the end of the handle to reinforce it and prevent it from splitting under hammer blows.

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30mm Atsunomi by Sukemaru (Shirogami No.1 Steel, Japanese White oak Handle)
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30mm Atsunomi by Sukemaru. Nicely made ura
30mm Atsunomi by Sukemaru. Notice the excellent steel lamination at the bevel and wrapped up the side. Notice also the sexy shoulders and strong neck; definitely a Niigata-style chisel.

Standard widths for atsunomi are: 12㎜, 15㎜, 18㎜, 21㎜, 24㎜, 30㎜, 36㎜, 42㎜, 48㎜, 54㎜.

There are several varieties of atsunomi, some with very wide blades and others with very long necks, but I will not go into that level of detail in this post.

In Part 9 of this saga of romance and derring-do, we will examine the Uchimaru Nomi.


© 2019 Stanley Covington All Rights Reserved

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