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Suizan KANNA Hand Plane

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MODEL: 42mm Hand Plane
Size: 1-1/2" x 2" x 6"
Blade Width: 42mm (1.65")
Blade Thickness: 3/16"
Body: Oak

Japanese hand planes (kanna) are a different kettle of fish altogether than Western hand planes. They're not 'difficult' to use and the results can be very rewarding. However they do take a bit of readjustment in your hand planing technique. Adjusting the blade and using the plane takes some practice. I've found that rushing ahead and trying to use these planes without taking the time to learn about them and how to use them properly is the main reason why people get disillusioned with Japanese pull planes.

As with any hand plane, for optimal results the blades need to be kept sharp. Fortunately, you don't require any additional sharpening equipment than what you use for your Western hand planes. Because Japanese blades tend to be physically smaller than most Western plane blades, you might find it more convenient to use a sharpening jig – if you currently don't use one. A great reference book for all things related to choosing and using Japanese hand planes is 
Scott Wynn's 'Discovering Japanese Handplanes'.

This little oak 'block plane' size hand plane from Suizan is, in my view, a nice starter plane for anyone who is planning on incorporating Japanese planes into their tool repertoire. At 2" wide and 6" long it's a comfortable size, with a decent size blade that is just over 1-1/2" wide. The body is machine made so the tolerances are very good  the blade fits very tightly in the narrow grooves milled into the sides of the body. The sole is perfectly flat from the front to the mouth.

The tight tolerances allow for easy and precise adjustment of the blade, and once fitted, the blade is held very snugly in place. With a bit of practice you'll find it relatively easy to set the protrusion of the blade by gently tapping the back of the blade and either eyeballing the blade setting or using you thumb to feel the protrusion.

Some Japanese planes incorporate a chip breaker, and the blade is made of a thin layer of hard high carbon steel forge welded to a softer iron. This Suizan blade dispenses with a chip breaker and the blade looks to be made of single piece of stamped steel. I found the blade to be sharp enough to use without needing further honing. It holds an edge well, and it's tolerably easy to sharpen.

For under $30 this is an ideal way to introduce yourself (or a friend) to Japanese hand planes.

Clean, machine made throat

Well defined, narrow mouth

The blade is thinner than you'll find on premium Japanese planes

Blade comes sharp

Gentle taps set the blade - eyeball the blade protrusion or use you thumb to gauge

A tap or two releases the blade

Use a controlled pull stroke

A decent beginner's plane

Carl Duguay canadianwoodworking

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