Unfortunately not in stock for a while. We do not know when we will receive new delivery. The Kikai Shakuri Kanna was traditionally used to cut the various types of grooves needed to produce and install traditional Japanese Shoji doors. The hand-forged irons are held in place by wedges. Every plane has a differently shaped wedge, depending on the width of its iron. The planes have two nicker irons, also hand forged, to cut the fibers at the edge of the groove ahead of the main blade for the cleanest possible cut. One must of course set the depth of these blades very precisely to achieve the desired results.
The word "Kikai" in the name means "machine." The other words in the name have a more precise meaning. Toshio Odate, in his classic book, "Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit, and Use," remarks that generally as soon as nuts and bolts are added, a "tool" becomes a "machine" in Japanese. Depending on the way the Japanese characters are rendered in Roman letters, these planes are sometimes also written "Kikai-jyakuri-ganna" or "Kikai Sakuri Kanna." The planes offered here are no longer produced, so we feel especially lucky to be able to offer them. This also means that we have a limited supply of them and so if you are interested, better to order sooner than later.
These groove planes, like many other traditional Japanese planes, are not ready for use out of the box, and require some fitting and finishing by the user, which in the case of these planes can require some fairly skilled work.
Tuning up these planes can also be complicated by the fact that they have been stored for an extended period of time and so some have cosmetic damage, such as rusted screws, though this does not affect their usability. To show you as precisely as possible what the planes look like, clicking on the photos will open very large high res photos of each side of each size of plane, both the cutting and the fence side of the tools, so that even the smallest details can be seen. If we have several planes of the same size, what you see may not be exactly what you get, but the general condition will be very close. The article descriptions mention visible cosmetic flaws, only if they are visible from the outside, without having to take the plane to pieces. You can assume however that the plane blades have some rust, as the carbon steel they are made of rusts fairly easily.
For the above mentioned reasons, we tell you these things before getting into the descriptions on use and tuning of these planes so that it is clear what you might be paying for. We do not want to sell a plane that does not please our customers. Please excuse the longer loading times for the large files.
View from above. The two nicker irons are, with the wider planes, held at the proper distance from each other by a wooden wedge. With the narrower tools the irons seat against each other, and in the narrowest models they are placed one behind the other. In the left of the photos one can see the wingnuts and knurled nuts used to set the width fence. The plane bodies are made of white oak.
By loosening the wing nuts, the fence can be set a maximum of 40 mm away from the blade. With the knurled nuts, it can be fixed in the desired position. One should measure the offset at both ends of the plane to make sure the fence is exactly parallel to the body. To work on inside surfaces, you can simply remove the fence.
The first step in getting the plane ready for use is to remove the irons so they can be sharpened. First the wing nuts and knurled nuts should be unscrewed and the fence removed so that the plane is easier to handle. Then hit the back end of the plane with a wooden hammer to gradually loosen the iron. Be patient with this step, as the change of climate from relatively humid air in East Asia to the often drier European climate often shrinks the wood and leaves the iron well stuck in. It could easily take 50 blows to free the iron enough to be removed.
Loosening and removing the two nicker blades can be somewhat harder. The beveled steel plate that holds them in place should in principle and in use be able to be removed by tapping the front of the plane with a hammer (as we did the back for the iron), but fresh out of the box this did not work for me. I clamped the body firmly upside-down to a work bench and very gently tapped the piece out with a hammer. One should use a drift to do this, but I only had a screwdriver to hand. In the end I managed to do it without damaging the plate, as the steel is relatively hard.
An alternative to this would be to loosen the screws in the side of the plane and separate the two sides of the body. Once this is done, you can easily take the plate out. In my case this also proved to be extremely difficult, and so I used the above method. If you need to take the plane apart, I would recommend letting a good penetrating oil work on the screws for a couple of days first.
Here you see the plane with the steel sheet driven out. The two nickers are still in and can now be easily removed. The plane blade is shown laying next to the plane. The rust on the plate can here be clearly seen. It will not effect the plane's function in any way, but should be removed and the plate polished to ease future removal and adjustment of the nicker irons.
All of the pieces of the plane are shown in this photo. Now you can sharpen the plane iron and the nicker irons. It is a very good idea to have a look at Toshio Odate's book Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit, and Use for advice on how to sharpen the irons. There you can also find a very good description of the things it might be necessary to do to fit the irons and fine tune the plane body. It is in any case a wonderful read for anybody interested in Japanese tools, woodworking methods and culture in general.
These groove planes were made for the Japanese market for use by professional Japanese cabinet makers, and so are in no way modified or simplified for the Western market or sale at Fine Tools. This means that in their manufacture, form strictly followed their function for the local users, and there are no nods to Western expectations of aesthetics. They are very rustic tools and do not attempt to flatter the eye. We think they have a certain charm in spite of or perhaps because of this practical and workmanlike level of finish. Tools like this are almost impossible to come by on the Western market and we were happy to have found them and proud to offer them for sale.
According to Toshio Odate, the Kude Shakuri Kanna, (joint plow planes) are made for cutting the joints on the muntins, the light strips wood to support the paper inside the frame, on traditional Japanese shoji walls and doors. He writes that these joints can be cut with a saws and chisels, as well. The nicker on these planes takes the place of the saw. Using this plane for these joints restricts you to the width of the iron, where with saws and chisels you can cut the joints any width you’d like to. The plane’s body, which on this very utilitarian plane was assembled using screws, is made of white oak.
As with the planes above, because these planes were stored for a long time before we at Fine Tools tracked them down, there can be some light rust on the irons and screws. The bodies can also a little dirty. This will not affect their function. None of the planes have been used. We have used the measurements for blade width stamped on the blades on this page, but this width can be off by 1/10 of a mm or so.