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As a 'congratulations' present to myself for actually completing the "Camp Gate" a few weeks ago, I decided to invest in some actual Japanese tools. I bought five things total from Hida Tools in Berkeley, CA, and one of those things was this plane.
Here in the picture, you see the dai or "block" of the plane with its brass pin, chip breaker, and blade. The dai is made from red oak has been cut in a "three sides straight grain" fashion, which is OK but not the best. The best dai (I'm told) have the grain running through them at 45 degrees, as this is the most stable and least susceptible to warping. The chip breaker sits just behind the cutting edge of the plane blade, and keeps the blade from tearing out the grain by breaking off wood fibers before the blade lifts them too much of the surface. The blade fits snugly into a slot in the dai, and pressure from the brass pin holds them all together. This fits more tightly than you probably imagine. There are no screws or adjusters on this plane as there are on a Western plane, you adjust the plane by tapping parts of it with a hammer. (Really.) This dai holds the blade at about 36 degrees from the surface.
Here is the mouth of the plane, which is cut right through the sole of the dai. Inside, you can see the edge of the plane blade. This is how it arrived in the box, and I have not tuned the block or adjusted the blade down for cutting. You want to store the plane with the blade in, as that will prevent the dai warping around an empty hole. The picture is blurry, but you can see that the blade is made of laminated steel just like the blades of the chisels.
This plane is nominally about 1.5" wide, but you can see that the mimi ("ears") of the blade have been ground off so that they don't dig in leaving deep marks this makes the actual cutting edge of the blade a little narrower. Since I bought this plane to smooth the edges of boards after I cut them with a saw, and since I mostly work with 3/4" lumber, this should not be a problem.
Here is the forge mark on the heel of the blade. This is a "Michi" brand plane, so I'm assuming it says something similar. I was very nervous about ordering a plane mail order without knowing anything about the makers. My teacher assured me that in the price range I was considering (less than $100), it really didn't make much difference. His planes, which sometimes cost over $1000, require more care in selection. His one piece of advice was to avoid the ones that have foil stickers on the dai as these stickers usually say things like "Cuts Good!" and a decent plane doesn't need that much heavy marketing.
[Please note that these Toolsday posts are independant reviews of tools that I purchased. I do not receive any payment for doing these reviews. I did receive a discount from Hida, but it was for being a student of my teacher and these reviews were not a condition of that discount.]
2013.08.06 at 12:00am EDT
All text and graphics copyright © 2007-2013 Elliott C. Evans except where otherwise noted.