STL252: The pull of the Japanese handplane

Check out Andrew’s upcoming class with Kezurou-kai USA

Question 1:

From Cory:
Can you help me understand how Japanese hand planes work? Specifically how the blade is bedded. I’ve done a reasonable amount of research and I still can’t seam to grasp just how the blade depth is set and adjusted. Is there a standard process for creating the mortises and adjusting the depth? I’m sure you are the best people to turn to.
As always, keep up the great work. Thanks for always finding a way to describe things in a way that makes me feel like I’m watching firsthand.

Shop Tour: Andrew Hunter

It would be easy to think that Andrew’s shop is lavishly appointed and just as impressive as the work that comes out of it. Well, in some cases less actually does make more.

Video: All About Japanese Planes

Learning to use a Japanese plane takes time and dedication, but as Andrew Hunter demonstrates, the reward of the shimmering surface it leaves is well worth it.

Question 2:

From WoodyHG:
Do you have any first hand experience on how wooden smoothing planes (Krenovian or Japanese Kanna’s) compare to metal body planes? I’ve heard the physical feedback is quite different and have been tempted by these ridiculously thin shavings from the Japanese planes seen on YouTube. I know Ron Hock sells plane kits a la Krenov but I wonder if the performance is determined less by the body and more by the blade. Do you see any benefits in use of a wooden plane over metal ones? Is there a big surface quality difference between Krenov planes and Japanese ones? Lastly, if you could get Andrew Hunter to chime in, what might be the best starter Japanese smoothing plane that would minimize frustration assuming I’m willing to learn how to tune and set the blade?

Japanese Handplanes

Setting up a Japanese handplane

A how-to guide for setting up and using these rewarding hand tools.

tapping out Japanese plane blade

How to ‘Tap Out’ a Japanese Plane Blade

Through repeated sharpening of the bevel, the front flat on the back of a Japanese plane blade will begin to disappear. The solution is to tap the layer of soft steel above the cutting edge to press the hard steel downward slightly.



Question 3:

From Joe
Just wondering if you could comment on something I’ve observed. It seems like when you watch a video of a western plane vs a Japanese plane it always seems that it takes more force to use a western plane and it seems more “aggressive” than a Japanese plane. Any thoughts on this? Maybe it’s just my imagination.


Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to [email protected] for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.

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