Plane No 2 – Japanese Kikai Shakuri Kanna (Machine Plow Plane)

As I stated in my previous post Plane No 1- G. Steadman and Sons Plough Plane – my intended purpose of buying previously owned tools is to use them and not just add them to a collection of tools in the shop.  So to continue that thread – the 2nd plane that I will review is a Japanese Plow plane that I own.

The Kikai Shakuri Kanna was traditionally used to cut the various types of grooves needed to produce and install traditional Japanese Shoji doors. The hand-forged irons are held in place by wedges. Every plane has a differently shaped wedge, depending on the width of its iron. The planes have two nicker irons, also hand forged, to cut the fibers at the edge of the groove ahead of the main blade for the cleanest possible cut. One must of course set the depth of these blades very precisely to achieve the desired results.

The word “Kikai” in the name means “machine.” The other words in the name have a more precise meaning. Toshio Odate, in his classic book, “Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit, and Use,” remarks that generally as soon as nuts and bolts are added, a “tool” becomes a “machine” in Japanese. Depending on the way the Japanese characters are rendered in Roman letters, these planes are sometimes also written “Kikai-jyakuri-ganna” or “Kikai Sakuri Kanna.”

The plane that I own is below, Japanese planes are typically made from red or white oak that has aged for at least six years.

I have no idea how old the plane is below or who made it, but here is a label on the plane as you can see, but I don’t read Japanese so have no idea what it says.

The photo below shows the bottom of the plane, showing the two nickers and the iron.

Below is a photo of the plane on a piece of pine that I use to test my planes.  You can plainly see the rabbet created by the plane.

another view of the rabbet, very impressive and without sharpening the nickers or iron.

I found the plane to very easy to use, it is solidly built and as one website stated “japanese tools are functional only and are not trying to win design awards”.    The only real trouble that I have is removing the irons so they can be sharpened.  This plane is old and and more than likely the iron has rusted and the wood shrunk around the iron.  It is common to read that at a japanese carpenter expects to get three (3) plane bodies out of one blade, such is the hardness of the Japanese bladesmith’s product.

Finished product.  All woodworking tools are still a mystery to me, especially the hand ones.  After all, it has been just short of a year when I began this journey.  But I must admit that I am fascinated how different cultures around the globe can come to the same result using tools that are similar, yet so different.

Until next time, Cheers.




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