Monday, March 10, 2014

Tool haul 3-1-2014

I have a stack of unopened packages, just full of old tools from Japan. Some days you just need some instant gratification. These were from my tool pusher, eBay seller yusui, always ready to feed my habit......

A great, very solid 30mm groove cutting plane, a soko-shakuri kanna. 

Pretty much ready to put to work. I will give it a few swipes on the finishing hone, even though it doesn't need it (Nearly ALL of the old Japanese tools that I get are usably sharp. Maybe it's a cultural thing?).

Two Nankin ganna, one a flat radius, the other rounded. 

The blade is a bit loose in one of them, but other than that.......

Both have mouth inserts, to help prevent tear-out. These are well built, quality tools. Not boutique, but definitely pro quality, with hand carved detailing. I love the hand made aspect. Only the cheapest DIY tools look like they are made in a factory. 

An old Umehiro kote-nomi 32mm. A cranked neck chisel for trimming grooves and other awkward areas. I have been wanting one of these for years, decades actually, and the Umehiro tools are high quality, long gone now....

This one shows evidence of a few misplaced hammer strikes, fingerprints of the blacksmith.

This tool had been sitting on the shelf of a hardware store, probably for well over 30 years. It still has the original price tag, 3400 yen ( about $35 USD). Very expensive, for the 1970's. 

Japanese tool makers, from 1955-1975'ish,  formed the Tokyo plane manufacturers co-op and the Tokyo chisel manufacturers co-op.....also the National chisel manufacturers organization, which Umehiro presided over for 16 years ( don't hold me to any of this! My grasp is very weak!). 

This otherwise nondescript chisel.....

.... has the stamp, right above the makers name, on the shaft.  I am excited to polish the blade. I wonder what the lamination line looks like?!

A burly cutting gauge.

You can't have too many planes, can you? 

Very little use, (chipped!) wrought iron (ren-tetsu) blade and laminated chip breaker/back blade. I like buying chipped blades, it means that the steel is hard! My old, soft tools just bent or folded. If the blade is TOO brittle, I can easily draw the temper a bit, making it a bit softer. It is MUCH harder to make a soft blade hard.

At least, I THINK that the main blade is wrought iron. I'll find out when I sharpen it. The natural waterstones bring out the detail in the metal, while the synthetic stones tend to homogenize and obscure. Some detail is ONLY visible after using a certain TYPE of stone, and that is the intention..... WAY cool! This blade isn't THAT special, but I expect it to be a very good cutter.

To finally see these tools in person, to handle then for the first time, it is always a surprise. Often, the tools that I was most looking forward to are....... something less than I was expecting. Things never look the same as in the photos, and so many of the important details, the heft and texture for example, cannot be conveyed.  

The converse is also true. I was particularly pleased with these small kanna.....

A matched set, hollow and round 22mm. Funny, I don't remember planning that..... Buying a set.

I am REALLY happy with this VERY old soto-maru (outwardly round) kanna. I thought that the body of the plane was pretty well used up, as was the blade. It turns out that the blade still has almost 1 inch of steel left and fits its dai like a glove (although the body has a LOT of character!). It could be a user! I love the patina, the engraving, the wataboshi shape to the head....... I feel an unaccountable affection.

Sharp, and even after god know how many years of use, is barely deformed. This tool was cared for, was valued.

OK, that's my show-and-tell for the now. There is more..... Another day.


  1. Nice haul Jason! Makes me want to visit a Japanese hardware store. The mind races.

    1. Hi Brandon!

      Yeah, like everywhere else, in Japan the old fashioned tool store is mostly a thing of the past, it sounds like. Quite a few people are making a small living by buying up old shelf stock and selling it on eBay. No doubt the best deals are never seen, but a lot of what does make it to market is pretty nice. The Umehiro crank neck chisel probably didn't sell because of a slight asymmetry in the body forging, so on the shelf it sat... and sat..... and sat. The quality is still excellent compared to tools of today, much like comparing a new Stanley chisel (outsourced from China) to an old Buck bros. or Swan. The same tool, but...... not.

  2. Glad I started a few years ago and so won't be competeing with you on ebay, what with the quantity of kanna, nomi and etc down in the shop. I see you are in Newport, OR and as my wife does some stuff down at the Hatfield Center now and then I might be up your way from CA sometime......perhaps we could get together and compare notes from the Japanese tool trail.

  3. Hi Michael!

    Yeah, that would be great! God knows I can go on for hours about Japanese tools, sharpening stones and the like.... And that's with just me talking. Imagine two enthusiasts, yammering on! My wife would quickly excuse herself, haha.

    Speaking of... She is finishing up her doctorate here at Hatfield Marine Science Center. Small world.

    I added my email to my blogger profile. Drop me a note, next time you will be coming through, so we can talk some tools. Haha, tool nerds!



Like all of us, I am figuring this out as I go, so when you see something that is incorrect or flat out wrong (and you will!), let me know. This is a learning process. Real people and names, please. Constructive comments and questions are very welcome, but hate speak/politics are not! Life (get one!) is too short.

Thanks, Jason