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.
Thank you Brian. Rosewood, Kingwood, Ipe, or other heavy tropical wood be adequate for the dai material? They are stable and wear resistant. I known that is unusual question.
Thank you for your question. Tropical woods like rosewood and kingwood are very wear resistant, but they’re also fairly brittle and so they risk cracking along the sides of the dai. However, I know it was fairly common for dai-ya to use ebony and rosewood for dai. Do you have access to woods similar to Japanese oak, it may make life a little easier.
I have made dai from a lot of non traditional woods. I don’t like woods that are too hard. I made a Mac ebony plane once, and it was not as good as just plain old western white oak. Apparently burl oak good. Maple was too tight for me, though the version of this kind of plane I have had for the last 30 years was maple. I can happily use beech also, but it is both about as soft and weak as one might want. I made a cherry dai once, which was a bit of a mistake.
One thing I learned a long time ago was that the tourist level tools were made of fancy woods, it is pretty hard to beat Japanese white oak when you can get it, for chisel handles or dai. But for the latter I have done just fine with the two woods mentioned.
Thank you for your comment and experience Thom!
I tend to agree, as I progress in using Japanese tools I tend toward woods that I would have previously considered plain, such as Japanese white oak, gumi, white ash, beech, ect.
Ebony makes a nice addition to wear spots such as the inside of mentori gonna or on the face of kebiki.
Fantastic work fitting the blade to the dai. Laying out and cutting the opening must not have been easy.
The word masame (柾目), is actually straight grain. Itame (板目), is flat grain. The Japanese are very specific in their names for different grain orientations. My understanding is that there are 4 different types of masame, and 2 different types of itame.
I found a short english explanation of the different masame and itame cuts on a Go board website – http://www.wussu.com/go/boards.htm.
Here is a link to a Japanese language explanation – http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1140764481
I appreciate the compliments and the correction. My decision to keep the foot made life difficult, it took about 2 hours in total. It was not terrible but definitely added time. I’m not sure how they cut them in Japan but I basically cut all the way down to it then scraped the foot going long grain.
I’ll make a note for people to refer to your comment on the grain orientation.
I have just come across your blog and am excited to catch up to say the least! Your project descriptions are so thorough and informative as well as tackling some very interesting tasks. The latest series on dai and blade preparation have been of particular interest.
I am just starting to practice with Japanese hand tools, the information you share is proving to be very helpful in that venture. I am currently working on sawing a straight line 🙂 A workbench will be next and then hopefully on to the planes.
Thanks again for sharing your experiences, keep it up!
Thank you for your comment! I’m glad to have made a positive influence on your woodworking experience. If anything should come up, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Another excellent post. Triumph, triumph!
The method you employed to retain the pressure bar was very interesting. I’m concerned that it may tend to bow the thickness skids, especially with only 2 screws per skid. Please keep us informed of its performance.
The choice of beech is interesting. Why is softer better? I very much doubt that beech is more stable than American white oak, and it is certainly less wear and split resistant. I think beech was not chosen as the wood of choice by professional plane makers in America and England for its durability or stability, but rather for its low cost, ease and speed of fabrication, and uniformity, all very positive and profitable characteristics for the plane makers, but perhaps less than ideal from the viewpoint of the end user. These are same reasons beech is farmed and used in large volume in Europe. Let us know how it performs over the years.
Keep up the good work!
Absolutely, I’ll update on the performance over time. I had the same concerns with respect to bowing the rails, but so far it does not even lift them from the sole of the plane. I may add two more screws, but wanted to avoid that if possible.
I’m curious to see how well it wears over time, and now that I have actually cut two dai, one for use as the Hikouki and one for a nagadai, I will be able to see the wear characteristics from multiple examples.
The beech cuts beautifully, it’s really nice to work.
By the way, I found the flaw in rosewood chisels handles! They will be replaced with oak or boxwood soon-ish.
Looking good Brian. I’m excited to hear how the hikouki kanna works out for you. I’m curious how planing thin kumiko strips against a stop will work? I’ve had problems with thin kumiko flexing/bowing up from the force of the plane. For thinner pieces I’ve had better luck using a method of holding the pieces such that you plane the piece in tension (hope that makes sense).
Good to hear from you! So far, so good. I’m planing strips down to 6.5mm x 14,15 and 16 for kumiko currently and they’re going well. I expect it may be troublesome going down thinner yet.
How thin are you planing your thinnest pieces?
The thinnest I’ve gone for kumiko is down to 1/8″. But I’ve also planed some strips down to 1/16″, and at that thin planing the piece in tension seems to be the only option.
Makes perfect sense, there is no way they can take any compression at that thickness.
I like that run of kumiko that you did on the most recent table, nice work!
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Brian I’ve been reading this post with great interest and have a question. On what information did you base your your dai layout? I see that you bedded the blade at 42deg, but where did you source the basic layout? So far the only source that I have been able to turn up for dai layout is Toshio Odate and it is general at best.
Thanks Greg! I ended up using multiple sources to come up with my measurements. My primary source was my best dai in the shop, an Inomoto dai that I enjoy using, however it is bedded at 39 degrees so I had to make some modifications.
I did refer to Odate’s book, but also found it fairly basic and so I needed to connect the dots with regard to the laying out the wear.
Finally I used David Weaver’s youtube series on making a western wooden jack plane for tips on how to cutout the dai (the process is very similar).
Which point is troubling you the most? I’ll see if I can provide additional detail on the specifics.
I thought maybe I was missing out on a resource, but speculation and extrapolation seems to be the general method. LOL
In my recent experiments with dai making, particularly for a single blade kanna, I have come to the conclusion that the wear configuration is drastically different in a single blade kanna. If my suspicions are correct, the mouth opening would remain virtually unchanged during the life of the dai. I’m on the hunt for confirmation though.
Hah, that always seems the case for Japanese tools🙂 I can’t say for certain that the wear is different, I would contact Stan Covington, David Weaver, Jim Blauvent or all three to see if they have any insights into the matter.
I have no trouble getting a thin and clean shaving with the typical wear and without the chip breaker, but I suspect that having the angle between the wear and blade fairly tight would be more ideal for a single blade only kanna.
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