Kanna Restoration

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Project by fissionchips posted 11-27-2011 04:49 AM 4520 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Delving into the world of Japanese woodworking is an enlightening experience for those who set down the path.

Inspired by Mafe’s blog, and by Toshio Odate’s incredible book ‘Japanese Woodworking Tools – Their Tradition, Spirit and Use’, I set out to find my first kanna plane. With luck I acquired an old 58mm hira kanna for a song on eBay. The only information I have about the maker is the stamp ‘Yukihiro’ on the blade.

The plane arrived from Japan and I was pleasantly surprised by its overall condition. The blade was in good shape but had a highly convex bevel. I didn’t have a course enough stone to flatten the whole bevel, so I made a flat on the front 2mm using an Eclipse style honing guide. This made the subsequent sharpening steps mercifully shorter.

The body (dai) was very bowed from taking on moisture, so I conditioned all the sides using sandpaper and a mini scraper plane. The white oak was a pleaure to work with, quite smooth grained. I finished the dai with beeswax, and smoothed its surface by burnishing against another piece of wood.

As fun as it is to make endless shavings, I got the most satisfaction from running my fingers along the edge of the plane-finished burnish-smoothed board. Sighting down the edge of the cherry board I could see a mirror-like reflection off of it.

I learned a few things along the way: High grit stones may not be crucial for sharpening. My finishing stone was 4000x, and a final hone with honing compound on wood brought out a nice shine. The photos show my haste in not taking out all the scratches, but future sharpenings should take care of that.

I can’t say enough good things about Toshio Odate’s book. I haven’t finished reading it yet, and am eager to absorb as much wisdom as I can from it.

A few more photos can be viewed in my flickr set.

12 comments so far

View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 4947 days

#1 posted 11-27-2011 05:32 AM

That is impressive… I like the shaving over the bookprint… nice touch.

-- Steven

View Konquest's profile


171 posts in 4452 days

#2 posted 11-27-2011 06:03 AM

Proof is in the pudding, bro. I am a huge fan of Japanese saws but have yet to try my hand at a Japanese plane. This project post piqued my curiosity about 1000X.

-- 9 3/4 fingers remaining.

View bobasaurus's profile


3711 posts in 4192 days

#3 posted 11-27-2011 06:08 AM

I really want to try out some Japanese hand planes. Adjusting and maintaining them seems like a lot of work, but the results are amazing.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View fissionchips's profile


99 posts in 3466 days

#4 posted 11-27-2011 07:07 AM

I also got inspiration from the episode of the Woodwright’s Shop “Japanese Planes With John Reed Fox”, and this video podcast.

View mafe's profile


12928 posts in 4098 days

#5 posted 11-27-2011 04:09 PM

That is wonderful to see that you got such a wonderful start with the plane.
Yes it is a different world than the western planes, completely, and for those who think the time spend setting up or adjusting is more difficult or longer they are all wrong, it’s different but not difficult.
Thank you so much for the thought for me, you have no idea how it makes me happy to see that the blogs once in a while acually do inspire, I am on my own beginners journey so every step is a world opening for me also.
How did you take the pictures of the irons? With a USB microscope? I just bought one that I am waiting to arrive here from Japan so I’m really exited.
Thank you for the close up pictures.
What is the black on the table behind the plane? Coffee beans?
Best of my thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View kiefer's profile


5812 posts in 3675 days

#6 posted 11-27-2011 05:01 PM

Looks like you are having fun and are enjoying your great find .
I hope you can find out more about it’s origin and maybe it’s previous owner !
Great post and the pics are awesome .
I like that shaving with print you should send one to Mads he deserves it for all his great blogs !


-- Kiefer

View fissionchips's profile


99 posts in 3466 days

#7 posted 11-27-2011 09:01 PM

Kiefer, I’ll ask my friend who is Japanese and post any info I can derive about the plane. The one result google finds is this, which may be the same maker’s current line up.

Mafe, I took the blade photos with my Canon G11 (which has very good macro capabilities), and placed a jewelers loupe in front for magnification. I’ve used the same trick with an optical microscope. A dedicated USB microscope would be a great toy/tool to have. Those round things are black beach pebbles collected from the gulf islands near Vancouver. They are to be incorporated into a Japanese themed project in the works! Thanks for spreading the rhykenology bug.

View mafe's profile


12928 posts in 4098 days

#8 posted 11-28-2011 12:14 AM

Amazing, what a cool idea, the loupe.
Beautiful pebbles.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3663 days

#9 posted 11-28-2011 01:24 AM

The last shot is priceless.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View CartersWhittling's profile


454 posts in 3682 days

#10 posted 11-28-2011 04:41 AM

Thanks for the post. Its nice to see some japanese planes on here.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View fissionchips's profile


99 posts in 3466 days

#11 posted 01-11-2012 11:42 PM

Toshio Odate published an article on kanna adjustment that you can read in full thanks to google. As noted here , there are likely errors in the article illustrations, which differ from Odate’s book.

This restored kanna has quickly become a focal point of my woodworking, and has sparked my interest in all aspects of the daiku / shokunin, aka Japanese woodworker. I originally tuned the sole of this kanna for truing, and have since relieved the front of the sole to make it a smoothing plane. I understand now that two separate kannas are required to complete both truing and smoothing tasks.

View mafe's profile


12928 posts in 4098 days

#12 posted 01-12-2012 01:08 PM

Thank you for the link.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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