1. 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.

    1. Hi Rogerio,

      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.


  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. Hi Brian,
    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

    David Wong
    1. Thanks David!

      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.


  4. Brian,

    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!


    Jonathan Elliott
  5. Brian

    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!


    Stan Covington
    1. Stan,

      Thank you!

      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.


  6. 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).

    Jon Billing

    1. Hi John,

      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?


      1. 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.


        Jon Billing
  7. Pingback: Hikouki Kanna – Dai Prep | Brian Holcombe Woodworker

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

  9. Pingback: Making Kumiko - How to accurately make consistent kumiko strips

Leave a Reply