As in chisels, we find hand planes of Western and Eastern tradition. With the eastern, we refer to Japanese hand planes, some fabulous tools for woodworking. Therefore, today we want to dedicate this post to see the main features and applications.
What are Japanese hand planes?
In traditional Japanese woodworking, craftsmen do not use sandpaper. The hand plane is the last tool they use to work the wood surface. If we add a blade of high quality, we achieved a completely smooth finish. Thus, these tools are for the final phase of furniture manufacture or wood structures.
Traditional Japanese hand planes consist of:
- A block of wood, usually of white oak
- A blue steel blade called Kanna
- A steel or wood counter blade to avoid splinters
- A nut to hold the blade and the counter blade
As in the West, there is a wide range of measures for hand planes. The most common are the Kanna. The layout of the blade is set between 40-45 °, they has a wide of 36-40 mm and a thickness of 4mm.
Applications of Japanese hand planes
We must not forget that these hand planes are designed for specific works. While the tradition of Western hand planes tended towards the technological improvement of the brush itself, the Japanese ones focused on improving the brushing technique. In this way, we get a movement that allows working for hours without a great effort on your arms and legs.
What kind of wood is best for this Japanese hand planes? You have outstanding qualities in soft woods. In hardwoods, as you would expect, is harder to work and require better blades and greater dedication.
Even so, the intention of these centenarian tools is to face any task of general brushing and smoothing. Therefore, there is a wide variety of blades and more than 20 families of Japanese hand planes, designed to adapt to each type of straightening.
Buying Japanese hand planes: What to Consider
It wasn’t easy to find Japanese hand planes. Many of them are made by hand from wood professionals, according to their needs and preferences. Nowadays, it is easy to find this type of tool. We will find from basic versions for beginners up to high quality blue steel blades for experts. And it is just in the properties of the blades where we find the main differences. If it is possible, it is better to choose a hand plane with blue steel. Their hardness and resistance to torsion make them the best option. In addition, they remain sharp for longer than white steel.
After choosing the blade, the next step is to choose the hand plane according to the use we want to give it. When the attack angle is lower, the cut is smoother. On the other hand, if we will need to do hard work to extract much material, it is better to opt for upper blade angle.
In no case they are suitable for roughing tasks. To do this we will use the corresponding Western hand planes. The combination of both is optimal.
In the case of Japanese hand planes the wood block is not as expensive as the West ones. This allows us to invest in the blade quality. The sharpening of the blade becomes a daily ritual to get an excellent cut.
We finished our post here. If you like Japanese hand planes, in the next few days we will see the best brands of these beautiful tools 😉
Image source: Pinterest and Ebay.
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