Buying your first set of Japanese Chisels should be a very exciting time in a woodworker’s journey. It means you have stepped up your skills and are dedicated to finer techniques.
First time users of Japanese Chisels invariably have a few concerns: the steel, the hoop and the tang.
The steel is typically either White Paper Steel or Blue Paper Steel. Shirogami, or White Paper Steel, can be sharpened easier. It takes a very skilled blacksmith to make it, since the hardening process has a very narrow range of temperature. Aogami, or Blue Paper Steel, stays sharper longer. There are two grades of blue steel, with different carbon contents, and a super blue steel with molybdenum for additional wear resistance.
The hoop is loose when you purchase the chisel. It ships that way, so that differences in humidity do not make it too loose in use. You will need to “set” the hoop prior to using it.
A Japanese chisel appears to be a socket chisel, but it actually has a through tang. If you look at the ferrule closely, you will see a seam; this is not a crack, but a two-part ferrule.