Japanese Kanna Curiosity

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Forum topic by UncannyValleyWoods posted 01-27-2017 05:26 PM 748 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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542 posts in 2473 days

01-27-2017 05:26 PM

A few years ago, I purchased an old Kanna from a flea market on the West Coast.

It was in rough shape and had clearly seen a great deal of use…it hadn’t spent it’s life sitting around.

The steel is incredible. Even though it’s “dull” and has been sitting up for a long time, there is still significantly formidable edge on it. Looking closely at it, it appears to be folded steel or at the very least traditionally hand crafted Japanese steel.

I’ve sent some emails over the last few years to some folks who should know, regarding the pedigree of this particular Kanna, but never got any reply. There is a clear marking on it, but I have yet to properly identify the characters.

I’m really just curious. The tool has a sort of transcendental presence to it…

I refuse to sharpen it until I’m sure I can do it properly… It does look like it’s been sharpened according to traditional methods (maintaining the concave side of the blade)...

I really just want to know more about it and was hoping some of you cats might have some insight.


-- “If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.” ― Lenny Bruce

2 replies so far

View madts's profile


1923 posts in 2948 days

#1 posted 01-30-2017 02:21 AM

Ask Mads. He has some knowledge about this stuff.
Send him a PM.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View djwong's profile


176 posts in 3828 days

#2 posted 02-10-2017 09:00 AM

I am not able to identify your blade, but you are right about it being well used. Traditional blades are made with a hard steel back/cutting edge, laminated to a softer steel or iron layer. The hard steel layer only extends roughly halfway the length of the blade. On your blade, it appears that the hard steel layer is almost completely worn away. Sharpening the bevel will show the two layers more distinctly.

There are plenty of websites devoted to Japanese tools. Try web searching for “Japanese kanna setup”, or “Japanese plane setup”. Toshio Odate’s book on”Japanese Woodworkng Tools”, is a good place to start if you are looking for a book.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

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