Hello and welcome to my blog, this post continues a series in which I’m making a plane for kumiko work called the Hikouki kanna. Now that Kezurou-kai is finished (I should have a post on that soon) I have continued converting a Takeo Nakano kanna into a Hikouki Kanna. I waited to complete the transformation because I had intended to use the dai for Kez, which I did, however after having super tuned the plane I felt the last thing I could do was chop into it. Instead, I decided to cut a new dai from European beech and use that.
I requested David Weaver’s assistance in selecting dai material and he recommended using beech. The requirements of good dai material include the ability to remain mostly stable from season to season. It must also be able to grip and release the blade many times without deforming and loosing that ability and finally it must be resistant to wear. European beech meets all of those requirements with the caveat that it is slightly less wear resistant than Japanese white oak, and slightly easier to dent. In addition to all of the above, European beech is widely available in NJ and able to be found in very high quality cuts.
There are two choices of grain orientation commonly used amongst dai-ya; masame which is a straight grain orientation centered over the pith or oi-masame which is rift sawn. I decided to choose oi-masame as rift sawn material should remain more stable from season to season. Once I determined the desired grain orientation I was able to select a piece of material in which the grain ran straight through along the side.
*EDIT* Please see David Wong’s explanation of grain orientation in the comments section for additional information.
Having selected a piece in which the grain was running vertically I gave myself enough room to align the grain on the face of the plane to run parallel with the pith. The purpose for doing this is to eliminate strange movements which would occur if the grain were running at an angle to the pith (the pith is the center of the log).
Now I’m ready to begin the mark-out. I orient the block so that the bark side of the wood will be the wear face (the bark side wears longer) and began marking out. I increased the pitch on this plane from a standard 38 degrees up to 42 degrees in the hopes that it will allow me room for error in my wood selection for kumiko.
After marking out the dai I applied the exterior treatments such as rounding over the front of the plane and clipping the corners.
I did not take photos of the cutout on this exact dai, however, I took photos while cutting another dai recently. I will share those photos with the expectation that it will not be overly distracting.
After chopping the majority of the waste on the mortise, I then cut the mouth and joined the two mortises. I followed along with David Weaver’s youtube videos of plane making and found them incredibly insightful for this process.
After the wear and bed were formed I left some material for a foot in the bottom of the dai, which is a feature of hand cut dai from Japan.
Next I saw the sides to receive the blade, I do that with a no-set blade.
After that is cut I zip out the waste with a tiny 3mm chisel and next I can begin fitting the blade, a process which I detailed in a previous post so no need to revisit. Again showing a different plane, similar in every way except the overall length.
Now that the dai has been formed, I can set that aside and begin making the bamboo button which will apply pressure to the kumiko as I plane. I’ve selected solid core bamboo for this part. This bamboo, from Calcutta, India, is unique in that it is almost completely solid.
I cut it down to the shape I needed, rounding over the exterior face, but leaving it a little thick so it could be further fine tuned.
Next I cut a mortise into the dai, choosing to place this mortise ahead of the wear as to not further weaken the plane. I kept the depth reasonably shallow and made the mortise slightly wider than the blade’s edge.
In previous posts, or the comments thereafter, I had mentioned being on a search for a spring for this dai. It finally occurred to me that feeler gauges are made from tempered spring steel and are available in many sizes. I ordered a few feeler gauges to experiment with and decided to begin with one measuring 25 thousands. After getting it down to size I bent a curve into the gauge so that it would act as a leaf spring.
The next step was to install the bamboo button. I determined this would not require a retaining device as the rails themselves could serve that function.
The next step in the process was to cut a rail, I had some 3/8″ thick white oak stock and so I chose that to start with. Some experimentation will likely be required of these so I did not want to make incredible efforts in choosing the first pair. A notched relief was cut into the bamboo to allow it to stand proud of the dai and then the rail was installed.
With the two rails now installed I’m ready to move on to the track. In selecting material for the track I determined that it would be important to choose rift sawn material that would offer excellent wear resistance while remaining stable. I had a good piece of rift sawn white ash in the stock pile perfect for this project.
After aligning the grain in the same way as was done on the dai, I was ready to begin preparing the beam. The beam must be very flat to provide proper support. In flattening wood to this extreme degree of flatness I began by checking for twist (called wind) with a pair of winding sticks.
The winding sticks show very clearly that two corners are up and so there is twist in the face of the board. After planing out that twist I recheck the stock to ensure the twist has been removed.
Now I can begin flattening the face of this board to the level required. This goes above and beyond normal prep requiring a precision straight edge and .001″ feeler gauge. As I flatten the stock I continuously check for overall flatness and finally fine tune the board by checking for flatness with the feeler gauge.
This is done in overlapping stages, first checking straight along the center of the board, then corner to corner in an ‘x’ pattern. Once this is completed I’m ready to transfer marks to the face of the board and repeat the procedure a second time.
With the board dimensioned and trued it is ready for the next step; cutting out for a stop. I chose to install a wooden planing stop in this board, many use metal but I find it unnerving to have a plane passing over metal and so I chose instead to use wood. I wanted to use a hardwood which would wear like metal so I selected Brazilian Kingwood from the pile and cut that into a sliding dovetail.
After preparing the kingwood I marked out and cut the receiver into the rail, making certain to mimic the taper of the stop. A plane stop should be replaceable and so I used a tapered sliding dovetail to lock it into place.
Next I planed grooves into the sides of the planing beam to receive the rails placed on the kanna.
Finally I installed the planing stop and cutout the same grooves so that the plane can pass over the planing stop without issue.
In the final post of this series I will test out my Hikouki kanna and the planing beam then make adjustments if necessary. I hope that you have enjoyed following along and I look forward to reading your comments.