Restoring The Machine Plow Plane (Kikai Shakuri Kanna)

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Blog entry by Lemongrasspicker posted 08-22-2017 01:16 PM 2107 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

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If you haven’t noticed I am a big fan of the Japanese methods and thoughts behind woodworking. And as such I do alot of reading on the topic and ever since I saw a drawing of one of these planes in Toshio Odate’s book on tools I have wanted one very badly.
I’d wager that each craftsman has his favorite tool, something that he just enjoys for no reason other than “he simply does”. this tool is it for me. The challenge of it I find invigorating. Without waxing poetic on philosophy I just think they’re cool.

I purchased one from an eBay ad. From the photos it showed that all the blades were included (impossibly hard to get otherwise). When it arrived it was in good shape, but from sitting so long it had rusted itself shut and I had to take extreme measures to get it apart (see the youtube video as I foolishly neglected to get photos of the process save for the video)

Once it was apart however making the new panel was fairly simple. I decided not to countersink the screws (I didn’t have the proper size countersink) And I didn’t have any other screws, gotta love the budget.

Using these is complicated I won’t downplay that. There are a total of 6 items that are in contact with the wood at all times. The 2 skates, 2 knicker blades, the main blade, and the chipbreaker (smaller kanna of this type do not have chipbreakers). All items must be tuned and setup according for use in your wood. The knickers must be set a slight bit lower than the main blade, they act as a way to ensure that the cut groove is clean by cutting the wood before the blade plows it out. It’s a cool idea and it works fairly well. I’d wager that modern plow planes (or even the old record one) work better, but I just cannot get over how cool these particular tools are.

Odate writes about them being very important for the makers of shoji doors in Japan. After WWII was over carpenters were commissioned to make large additions to farmer’s homes. Evidently during the war farmers were among the few who had food, and according to Odate many people traded away their savings/valuables in exchange for food. After the war these farmers suddenly found themselves very rich, and being rich you need to look the part. So these farmers hired out carpenters to build grand additions to their homes to match their new wealth in post war Japan. This type of plow plane was important in the making of these doors. The makers would use them to cut the grooves that the kumiko would sit in to hold up the panels.

It’d be cool to see what projects this plane has been used on, but I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy, I’ll use it as best as I can for whatever I’ll need. They are just cool!

Thanks for reading/watching!


1 comment so far

View PatesWoodshop's profile


45 posts in 1237 days

#1 posted 08-22-2017 01:58 PM

I just finished reading “Japanese Woodworking Tools, Their Tradition, Spirit and Use” yesterday. Very interesting.

Congratulations, you have a cool new toy :)

-- By "Woodshop" I mean my two car garage full of wood and tools.

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