Why Japanese Hand Tools...

Posted by hello@ ProTooling.com.au on

Before we get into our opinions on Japanese hand tools, we should probably address the question of, why hand tools at all?

As a professional woodworker with a plethora of modern machinery and tooling I found myself leaning more towards hand tools when doing personal projects. It was just a more enjoyable experience overall with a stronger connection built with the timber. The lack of noise, dust and mechanical contamination to the piece itself, along with the working environment, (positively) added to the process. As far as quality is concerned, accuracy is obviously very achievable with hand tools, however I find something special in the organic and artistic results that hand tools help to impart.

So why Japanese Hand Tools?

There's an obvious allure to the exotic nature of these tools, again an artistic appeal, they just look and feel very cool. On top of Japanese tools making great wall art for your workshop, they usually outperform their western hand tool counterparts. Generally they impart a better finish to your timber than comparable hand tools at a similar price.

Getting into specific hand tools, our experience has shown the hand forged blades in the woodworking planes and chisels we offer, hold a sharper edge overall, and maintain that edge longer. 

The Kanna (woodworking planes) do require some set up and maintenance but this is really not as much work as is the perception online. We recommend a scraper as an accessory, which are cheap and easy to use, along with a sharpening stone being a great addition also, but this is true for any hand tool, Western, Japanese or otherwise. I won't get too specific into Kanna setup, as there is plenty of online advice already, just search "tune up kanna" on YouTube and you'll be done. The benefits of the Japanese plane are truly worth the tiny work required to set up. We have not seen a matching western plane able to achieve the sheen or finish as a Japanese kanna, nor one able to provide such fine timber shavings. They also feel amazing in use, personally I feel more connected to the timber.

In chisel territory, "Nomi", or Japanese chisels do operate in a similar way as their western chisel brethren, they do however have several key advantages. Japanese chisels are (usually) made with 2 types of steel, 1 hard layer to form the chisel and a 2nd softer layer to carry it. The steel used is much harder than western chisels, making them sharper but also more fragile in certain environments... do not use these chisels as a lever or for demolition works. 

The Japanese hand saws, known as Nokogiri in Japan, or pull saws and razor saws in the West are again very similar in use and operation to the western hand saw alternative. It may take a little getting used to the feel when cutting but it's a very small learning curve. It's the same cutting action as a "normal" hand saw but the cut happens when you pull, as opposed to when you push. What we find is the saws yield a more accurate cut and more refined finish. Personally they feel much easier to control and have a more natural feel.

These hand tools come from an ancient era, they have stood the test of time and hold a spiritual significance that can be felt in use.


ProTooling Australia

ProTooling.com.au Logo _Japanese Woodworking Tools, Chef Knives, Whetstones & Traditional Japanese Kitchen Knives

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