Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kanna E/R 5-The final chapter?

I have covered all the bases in this R&R, but I'm not completely satisfied as to the performance.  The plane cuts well and turns a nice curled shaving, but is not stable enough to cut very thin. A good real-world shaving, but no thinner.

Let's try a different species of wood.

Port Orford Cedar sapwood, clear with rising grain. The POC is nice for this sort of thing. The wood fibers generally have enough integrity to hold together, even when the shaving gets wispy thin. The sapwood will tear-out if you look at it sideways, though.

Better, but something is lacking. I double check the adjustment of the dai, looks good. That leaves.........

Sharpening (How did you guess?). I think that 4/5th's of plane woes are due to inadequate sharpening. I go back to a #3000 and if I check under the loupe, I can see that I have been just the SLIGHTEST bit negligent in keeping the bevel flat. How does anyone get a sharp edge with a rounded bevel?

This blade is fairly soft, closer in hardness to a western blade than some of the super-hard stuff that I have been working on lately. I expect that edge retention will be less than I would like. On the positive side, it is easy to sharpen, and because you get quick results, you can really work on good technique. I very quickly work up the grits, through the finest stones that I have, then for fun I finish with a polishing compound strop.

3M microfine on a masking tape carrier, mounted on a glass plate. This will hone and polish without rounding the bevel too much. Kunimoto (all hail!) does essentially this.

The polish is spread on the tape that is on the left. The strip on the right is a spacer, to keep the blade in plane.

I use trailing strokes for both the back and front bevel.

A nicely polished bevel.

Makes for a nicely polished wood surface. 

Much better, but still pretty thick. Still, it's amazing what you can do with simple tools, and I don't consider myself particularly good. Hell, I'm a noob!

As the shavings get thinner, they begin to lose coherence. Part of this is due to the poorly fitted blade bed, part is due to poor sharpening, and part is due to a less than ideal piece of wood.

With these thicker shavings, you can see how the grain of the wood affects the integrity of the ribbon. A piece of wood with a finer, more even grain would make much nicer shavings.

The shaving is superimposed on the plank, showing how the growth rings match the thin spots in the shaving. The ruler is just there to provide some contrast.

Eventually the shaving gets too thin, turning into wispy threads.

Is hard to make fine adjustments to the depth of cut with this plane, due to the relatively poor fit of the blade in the body. You could get all hardcore, build up the bed with epoxy, but a thick paper shim would probably do the trick. I think that paper works better than thin wood shims (At least that's what I think today....waffle much?). Actually, the plane works just fine as it is.

Here is a range of shavings. It works. It's not good enough for Kezuroukai, but it's good enough for a user.

Shellac, to keep it clean. 

Also, a new rock. My first coticule.

I'll use this plane for a while, to confirm edge retention. I tuned and fit it as a finish smoother, but it would be better as a rough work jack style. The narrow body makes it easy to grip, and the narrower 50mm blade means that you can pull a thicker shaving with less effort than, say, a 75mm. I think that I might have too many planes, though.

Did I just say that?


  1. Loved the series, thanks for sharing. I just got my first kanna a couple weeks ago and have been enjoying tuning it up. I just gave it a coat of BLO and some wax, do you recommend the shellac? How does that feel in the hand, and do you also cover the sole with it? I'm wondering that would affect regular conditioning of the sole. Thanks!

    1. Welcome back, Siavosh!

      Funny you should mention it.....I too used BLO and wax on my first kanna. I found that after a few months of regular use it had started to look a bit grimy again, so I started topcoating with shellac. I use am using Zinsser seal coat for most everything these days, it seems. I'm kind of a one trick pony, haha.

      I think that the "best" would be to not use ANY finish, but I am still stuck in the "pretty" tool phase, and I find that the shellac is not too objectionable. It is very quick to apply, I rag on 2-3 coats w/0000 steel wool in between, and it wears well. Is also easy to remove, if you change your mind. That said, it is rather slick, and more so with wax. I mixed up a (stinky!!) paraffin/oil/turpentine mixture that had a grippy hand to it and have been using that on all my tool handles. It seems to help, but when this stuff is gone, I'll be going back to beeswax.

      I do finish the sole of the plane, but it's pretty much irrelevant, as it all gets scraped off when tuning. Any film finish will affect the rate that a wood body plane acclimates to change in humidity and that might be a good thing, but I don't have enough experience to say. Maybe 1/2 of my kanna came with oil soaked dai's (they feel kind of gummy), but none of them have film type finishes........ Food for thought.

      Have fun!


  2. Love the blog. Re: shimming in the dai, I had the honor of being shop assistant for Toshio Odate's plane class at Highland Woodworking a few years back, and he recommended a paper shim if the iron is too loose in the body.

    Happy planning!

  3. Hi Jim, and thanks for commenting!

    I have been using thin slips of wood, glued onto place, for the majority of these kanna dress-ups. Cleaner, neater and more permanent than a wood shaving or piece of card stock, but I am finding that a piece of thick paper, glued onto place using the barest skin of hide glue, actually does a better job of holding the blade securely. The hide glue contribute very little moisture to the dai (as opposed to waiting a week for the dai to stabilize after using yellow glue), and if you use paper that is a bit too thick, you can abrade the paper so that you get a nice, toothy/nubbly surface that cushions, yet hold the blade very securely. Duct tape, masking tape, and Tyvek tape work well, too. A' course then it looks as nasty as when I started, haha! Those carpenters knew what worked. Best would be to just cut a new dai, but I enjoy the fiddling.

    I am envious of your direct experience. What a wonderful opportunity!



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