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  • Japanese Rasp or File

    I bought one of those expensive Japanese rasps from Woodcraft last week -- the brand name was Iwasaki or something like that. I was a bit skeptical of the price-value balance, but gave it a try. I have to say I like it.

    It does not have teeth, per se: more like blades. The working surface is covered with what amounts to tiny little planes. Consequently, the wood is left with a smooth surface after a stroke -- not the chewed up surface one expects from a rasp.

    I bought the medium grade which is the coarsest Woodcraft offers. Wood removal is almost as fast as with a good conventional rasp, but seems to be much more controlled.

    My only objection is price. I did not realize until I got to the store that these things have only one working surface. So if you need a conventional half round rasp, you have to buy two rasps: a flat one and a half round one. At Woodcraft, that is a total of $80 US. I just bought the half round alone at $40 and so far I am not desperately wishing I had the flat one too.

    I attach photos below with the caveat that our forum is still in the cleanup phase, so your and my results may vary. One shot shows a workpiece after rasping, close up. The wood is a very coarse grained (and mealy) walnut. Note there is a slight tendency toward clogging but use of a wire brush every now and then controls that.
    Attached Files
    HonketyHank toot toot

  • #2
    Re: Japanese Rasp or File

    Looks like a good tool but I agree with you a little pricey. Thanks for showing it. Merle

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    • #3
      Re: Japanese Rasp or File

      How might that work on the curved surfaces of a wood carving?
      What sort of texture does it leave on cross-grain cuts?

      Experiment: rub the rasp with chalk (even baking flour will work).
      Does it have the same tendency to clog when the bottoms of the grooves are already filled? I do this with all/any metalwork files for far smoother cutting action and zero clogging.

      I did a carving in western red cedar burl, the grain was so interwoven that I did most of the fine work with assorted rasps. Random tooth/hand stitched rasps are worth the money. At a rough stage, I chalked one up, seemed to help but it ate chalk like a Piranha fish.
      Brian T

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      • #4
        Re: Japanese Rasp or File

        Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
        How might that work on the curved surfaces of a wood carving?
        What sort of texture does it leave on cross-grain cuts?
        I wouldnt try using this one on a carving except in the initial stages of gross wood removal. Too coarse. They do have a fine and a extra-fine grade and they also have these in a smaller size (cheaper and perhaps more relevant to use on a carving). But not small like a riffler or mini-rasp. I should add that the workpiece must be very firmly held in a vise or clamp with any rasp this size. It is a two handed tool.

        I will try to remember to get a shot if or when I use it on end grain.

        Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
        Experiment: rub the rasp with chalk (even baking flour will work).
        Does it have the same tendency to clog when the bottoms of the grooves are already filled? I do this with all/any metalwork files for far smoother cutting action and zero clogging.
        I have been meaning to try this trick on my metalwork file, but I dont use it all that much and I keep forgetting. On the rasp, I think I would need to buy my chalk by the pallet load. It could be that the wood itself is mealy enough to cause the clogging. The design of the blades is supposed to reduce or eliminate that problem. And in fact, the clogging I experienced is not enough to affect the performance. I probably should keep going without brushing and see if it clears itself after it reaches a certain point or if it just gets worse and worse.
        honketyhank
        No facebook, no twitter
        Last edited by honketyhank; 04-13-2015, 02:08 PM. Reason: get rid of apostrophe
        HonketyHank toot toot

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        • #5
          Re: Japanese Rasp or File

          For the Olympic-style (and others) pistol events, the rear sight blade on a new gun always arrives too tight to use. The expectation is that the shooter will shave it open to suit their style. That\'s when & where I leaned the chalked up file trick for clean cuts.

          It\'s never more than just all the sharp edges of a file which cut.
          Fill in the bottoms with something you can cope with to prevent clogging and lumps which make the file skip.

          In soft metals like aluminum & copper, the filed surface can look almost polished! The worst of all has to be seashell dust when I\'m shaping inlay.
          Brian T

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          • #6
            Re: Japanese Rasp or File

            Used the rasp for a couple hours today without brushing out the teeth. Worked fine. Always a few shreds stuck here and there, but never more than a few.
            HonketyHank toot toot

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Japanese Rasp or File

              Good news. Maybe it takes a little time to learn it in the wood? Might be differences in the carving woods, moisture content, as well.
              Brian T

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              • #8
                Re: Japanese Rasp or File

                Funny, I was just reading about these last night.

                https://whiteeaglestudios.wordpress....-and-rifflers/

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                • #9
                  Re: Japanese Rasp or File

                  Chris Pye is not Arioux. The merit is in the random, hand stitched tooth non-pattern. No grooves in the wood like the local hardware store mechanical repetitive patterns.
                  Must admit that with a bunch of them, they do have their place. Most of them can be replaced with a couple of serious crooked knives.
                  Brian T

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                  • #10
                    Re: Japanese Rasp or File

                    How are these different from microplanes?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Japanese Rasp or File

                      To me, a rasp of any size or make is a 1-sided tool. The stitching/tooth pattern can be regularly arranged as cut by machine or quite irregular/no pattern which can be done by hand. Across the wood, the teeth cut and the shavings spall off the same side.

                      I have some microplanes (gifts) in my kitchen. They do a fine job of very hard cheeses and citrus fruit skin zest. I don\'t like them very much, I\'\'d rather use a proper zesting tool. Unlike a rasp, the stock material is cut and travels through the body of the tool.
                      Brian T

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                      • #12
                        Re: Japanese Rasp or File

                        Several years ago, I was making a wall hanging out of red oak for a customer and used one of these to get rid of a lot of waste wood. This was before I bought myself some Swiss-made full sized gouges. As long as one carves/grinds with the grain, this works well and is low-dust - the microplane cuts chips, not dust (most of the time...)

                        http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/828...ry-Shaper.aspx

                        Claude
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                        • #13
                          So this thread is over five years old and I'm interested to know how much use is still being made of the rasps by the posters, Hank, Brian and Claude.

                          I have one very coarse rasp which I seldom even think about using in roughing out, but yesterday I saw a pro carver who does very fine work discussing the use of rasps and rifflers: His take was that they were nice in very limited circumstances, especially the hand cut ones, but he didn't really use them.

                          What say you?
                          Arthur

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                          • #14
                            Wow. A lot of carving method has changed for me in the past 5 years. Things have gone it two directions.

                            First, I can get into the tight spots in wood quite well with very small PacNW style crooked knives. Also, I discovered that I like a textured surface of chips as opposed to a very smooth surface.

                            Second, I've taken the opportunities to do some stone carving workshops (Brazilian steatite soap stone*). The rasps and rifflers are essential, working down from the saw cut rough out. Very convenient to scrub into little corners. I learned that there's a process with wet&dry sandpapers with a bucket of water to finish the stone surface. But still, folded sandpapers don't have the stiffness of a riffler to cut the stone.

                            Stone is a powdery mess with the rifflers and rasps. Just a big dusty mess. Best done outside if your environment allows it. As much as I enjoy the fine shaping, not in the house.

                            *Soapstone you can cut with a band saw. You can carve it with a screwdriver, if you had to.
                            Brian T

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                            • #15
                              I don't really do much woodworking and I have not used the Japanese rasp much. But when I need a rasp, it is the one I go to first. It does leave a nice surface after each stroke. My original post most have been pre-website-hack because the photos no longer exist in my media folder. Unfortunately I don't have the originals (or they are misfiled on my computer somewhere).

                              One does wonder how long the little bitty knives in the rasp will stay sharp. I haven't used it a lot, so my experience is not much of a test. My other rasp is an older Michelson or Nichelson or whatever. Machine cut teeth, not random.
                              HonketyHank toot toot

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