Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Turning Japanese...

HI Folks
I find Japanese tools (and Japanese woodworking) to be quite exciting - they are familiar and yet completely different at the same time! The subtle differences in the way they are made and the way they are used reveals a parallel history to the way Western tools and methods were created, yet from a freshly different viewpoint.
Japanese planes are a case in point - they have a stock, cutting iron and wedge. Yet you would never mistake a Japanese plane for a Western one even though on paper they are identical. I have watched Japanese woodworkers demonstrating at shows and it is thrilling to watch such skilled workers. But the differences in approach is what interests me most.
I will be at the Yandles Woodworking show with Classic Hand Tools next month on the 13th and 14th - also attending is Michael Huntley who has a special interest in Japanese tools. I aim to pick his brains a little more on planes as I have just made my first Japanese style smoother.
As this is my first attempt at this style of plane I was rather pleased with how well it works. I just need some more in-depth detail of the throat geometry and I may offer a small range of Japanese style planes if there is interest. Drop me a line if you have any thoughts on this.


Anonymous said...

To be perfectly honest I wish you'd stick to your current lines of planes. There are lots of manufacturers of very high quality Japanese planes with superb steel blades. Not so wooden Western planes. The WW community needs you to keep filling this niche.

Jim B

Anonymous said...

Hello mr Philly

I am a very devoted of your work since long time ago, I truly appreciate you share your work and expertise felling and I love to see your beautyful planes developt. One of my wishes at cabinetry carreer is to build wooden planes, moulding planes and other charming toolworks. I have been studying the matter for years and have seen other toolmakers work to learn by myself. The reason I have decided to write to you by this time is because I was a bit shocked by the way the growing rings orientation are in this japanese plane you are showing I mean I am seeing the rings are parallel to the sole of the plane and as far as I know I would set them out perpendicular to the sole of the plane I think this would help wood movement to keep the blade true to the sole and frog. These this just my thoughts and I wanted to exposed them to you to know if I am right or wrong since I trust in your knowledge. Thank you so much for your attention and keep this wonderful blog up. I always enjoy to read it.
Best wishes from spain

Julio Alonso

Unknown said...

Lovely Plane, delightfully understated. A line of Philly inspired Japanese planes would be brilliant. I love their saws so I can only how good their planes must be. I have some very basic construction drawings for Japanese Planes, they may have something useful for the throat design, on the other hand they be of no use. What's the timber?

Thanks for the advice on my plane iron, I sharpened it at 35ยบ and the edge is now perfect. It once again takes a beautiful cut.

Unknown said...


Love the Japanese planes. Very cool. Keep up the growth. No doubt you can cover both the Japanese and traditional planes. ;)


Lee Laird

Philly said...

Thanks Jim - I appreciate your comments :)

Julio - the way I have oriented the growth rings is correct for a wooden plane. This way the wood expands and contracts from side to side, maintaining the relationship between the wedge and the bed. If you rotate the grain 90 degrees you end up with all the movement being in the vertical direction - this means the wedge will only fit at certain times of the year. Best regards,

BC - timber on this one was a piece of slightly spalty Beech, hence the interesting colour. The throat geometry is totally different to a Western plane, which is why I've been doing a little research.Knowledge is power!
Glad the plane iron is performing for you again ;)

Lee - thanks for your support ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Mr Philly, you have put my doubts free, I truly appreciate your response which has help me a lot.
I hope to meet you at some point if I have got the chance to attend some event
Cheers !


Philly said...

My pleasure, Julio - look forward to meeting you one day!

David North said...

I think the idea of a western blade (with our familiar sharpening approach) and japanese style body in a beech, and ready to go out of the box without the specialised tune up that Kana apparently need, is a great idea. The tuning has put me off from getting one so far though I'd love to give them a go. HNT gordon makes a sort of hybrid western/eastern style plane.