Making a Kanna from a Reclaimed Chisel

A custom mameganna (small “bean” plane) such as might be used by furniture makers can be made fairly quickly from an old chisel. This type of kanna might be used for shaping saya or tsuka or for other small woodwork projects requiring a custom radius or access to tight spaces.

Materials for the project are simply a scrap of oak and an old chisel blade. The wood is usually Japanese white oak but some type of oak or similar wood that has been seasoned sufficiently should provide the strength and tension required for a kanna. In some cases simply making a custom dai (plane body) for a blade from another plane is an option but having a complete tool ready for use is preferable.

A wide chisel is best and it should have parallel sides, and an even wedge shape thickness increasing from edge to tang (not curved or parallel). A chisel without beveled sides is best but it can still be made to work as long as there is a flat surface in the middle. Laminated construction with a hollowed ura would be nice but can be done without for a smaller kanna. Tools needed might include a saw, drill, kanna, chisel, hammer, kiridashi, thin rasp, files, sharpening stones, and measuring or layout tools.

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tools made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The socket is removed by filing partway through and breaking the remainder. The top is rounded, and the edge and ura are reshaped to remove pits and damage. If necessary the omote should also be flattened from a curve to a straight wedge. This blade is about 38mm wide (1.5″) and the edge 34mm.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tools made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Greenlee Tool Co. Rockford Illinois, made sometime between 1927 and 1946.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tools made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The dai is carved from a scrap of oak, an existing kanna can be used as a model.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tools made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Though the chisel sides are beveled, the centre of the omote still rests on the bed.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tools made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The dai is about 150mm long, 55mm wide, and 20mm thick.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tools made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The base has a very slight radius from front to back (~1.5-2mm sori) and will be used for the mune curve on saya.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tools made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The bottom is smoothed and waxed, and a very light coat of tung oil applied to the dai.

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