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He is risen, indeed!

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Oriental Hand Tools

Fully expecting that the Hardwood Derby at Fine Woodworking Live...

Giant Cypress - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 3:49am

Fully expecting that the Hardwood Derby at Fine Woodworking Live will be as entertaining as this. Be sure to watch through to the end.

Happy Friday!

Don’t know if I’m going to win the Hardwood Derby at Fine...

Giant Cypress - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 3:38am

Don’t know if I’m going to win the Hardwood Derby at Fine Woodworking Live this weekend, but I’m a shoo-in for the Most Kawaii category.

When is a plane not a plane? When it’s a car. Getting ready for...

Giant Cypress - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 8:48am

When is a plane not a plane? When it’s a car. Getting ready for Fine Woodworking Live this weekend, and the Hardwood Derby.

Using a Japanese plow plane to make an iPad stand

Giant Cypress - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 3:28am

A while back I rehabbed a 9mm Japanese plow plane. I needed it to make this stand for my iPad. Here’s how to do it.

First, I found some scrap 8/4 wood. This is walnut, but of course you can use whatever you want. You’ll need one piece about 1/2″ thick and at least 5” long, and another that’s about 1-3/4″ square, also at least 5” long. I was able to saw both pieces from this piece of scrap. The middle section is destined for our fire pit.


I squared up the pieces with a plane, and sawed the ends square as well. Here’s how they eventually will go together to make the iPad stand.


I set the fence of the Japanese plow plane to cut a groove. This groove should be closer to the front of the stand. Mine was set in a little over 3/8” from the front. Before committing to making the groove in my final piece, I prototyped this part using some 2x material to make sure that I was happy with the way the iPad would sit in the groove. If you have a different tablet, you may need to make a different size groove.

To make the groove, I first lightly ran the plane down the workpiece so that the nickers could establish where the groove is going to be. Multiple light passes are better than a single heavy pass at this point. If the plane is going to go off course, this is the time it will do so. I also started the groove at the near end of the board, working my way back as I took each pass. This is the same technique that’s used with western plow planes. Once the plane bottoms out, the groove is done.


The long bolts that hold the adjustable fence make it seem like the Japanese plow plane is uncomfortable to hold. Surprisingly, the forward bolt makes a nice handle. Other than wrapping my right hand around the bolt, I hold this like any other Japanese plane, with the left hand at the back and the right hand at the front.


Once I finished making the groove, the only thing left is to put the pieces together. There are many ways to do this. I used a quick dovetail for this part.


Knock off the corners with a plane, chisel, and/or sandpaper, apply your favorite finish, and you’re done.

If you want to make this iPad stand, please note that the dimensions are all approximate. Ultimately, the front piece wound up being 1-5/8″ wide and 1-3/8″ tall. I think that the only critical dimension is the length of the back piece. It should be long enough that it goes at least past the point where the top of the iPad is when leaning back in the groove in portrait orientation. Of course, the stand will also hold the iPad in landscape orientation as well.


All in all, this is a ridiculously easy project to make. You can get this done in a couple of hours without rushing. And as far as using it, it’s great for propping up the iPad if you’re watching videos or something like that. It may seem like a little thing, but it’s so nice that I can’t believe I didn’t make this sooner.

Happy Easter from Giant Cypress and the King of the...

Giant Cypress - Sun, 04/16/2017 - 5:08am

Happy Easter from Giant Cypress and the King of the Monsters.

(Photo from Graceful Grandma.)

325sqft: Red oak end grain, no problem. Except sharpening a...

Giant Cypress - Sat, 04/15/2017 - 4:39am


Red oak end grain, no problem. Except sharpening a little more, but that’s not really a problem, right? #japanesetools #planemaking #nankinkanna #compassplane #nishikanna #205collaborative #greensboronc (at 205 Collaborative)

Phillip Fuentes doesn’t know you can’t use Japanese tools on hardwoods.

Wilbur do you ever oil the dai? We oil everything else in our toolbox.... Love the blog.... Toni

Giant Cypress - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 3:18am

Thanks for reading, Toni, and for the nice comment! I really appreciate it.

I don’t oil my dai. I used to make sure that my plane blades were oiled (I have some camilla oil for this), but luckily my workshop is dry enough that rust really isn’t a problem, so I’ve stopped doing that.

I once bought a Japanese plane with an oiled dai from eBay. When it arrived, I found that the dai was a sticky mess, which didn’t help to convince me that oiling was a must-do item for my Japanese planes. This is not to say that there aren’t good reasons for oiling a dai. I just haven’t found it to be necessary.

WT371 – 10 Years of Madness

Giant Cypress - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 5:58am
WT371 – 10 Years of Madness:

Speaking of podcasts, I completely forgot to note Wood Talk hitting it’s ten year birthday this month. Congratulations to Marc Spagnuolo, Matt Vanderlist, Shannon Rogers, and Matt Cremona for turning out such a consistently excellent podcast over the years, and here’s to Wood Talk’s tween and teen years.

HTT001 – Back in the Saddle

Giant Cypress - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 5:28am
HTT001 – Back in the Saddle:

Bob Rozaieski gets back into the podcast game. So good.

If you like woodworking podcasts, you should subscribe to this one for sure.

See how the Men's Final Four court is made!

Giant Cypress - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 6:18am
See how the Men's Final Four court is made!:

The NCAA’s are over, but here’s a multimedia article on how the court is put together, from harvesting the trees to final assembly. The most surprising thing to me is that the article implies that it’s just 144 days from chopping the maple trees down to the end product. Given what we woodworkers know about drying wood (it looks like the boards sawn from the maple trees are 4/4 or 5/4), that’s a pretty impressive turnaround time.

A Voice You Can Trust – or 100 - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Giant Cypress - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 9:28am
A Voice You Can Trust – or 100 - Popular Woodworking Magazine:

Christopher Schwarz:

I’ll make a statement that will get me in trouble. When I hear woodworking instructors say they teach only the best techniques, I think they really mean that they teach only the techniques they are intimately familiar with. In other words, they haven’t opened their minds to the all the wild ways we can transform a tree into something useful.

Completely agree. After all, if woodworkers truly were committed to following best practices, we would all be using Japanese tools.

In all seriousness, learning how western hand tools work helped me a ton in understanding how Japanese tools work.

NYC | KEZ | 2017 - MOKUCHI >>

Giant Cypress - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 11:28am
NYC | KEZ | 2017 - MOKUCHI >>:

Yann Giguere just announced the date for this year’s NYC Kez. It’s on Saturday, August 5, 2017, with a pre-Kez workshop on Friday, August 4. It’s a great event. Hope to see you there.


Giant Cypress - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 3:58am

Doug Stowe:

I am at Woodworker’s Showcase in Saratoga Springs, New York, and along with my fellow jurors, examined a great deal of fine work from wood. My personal choice as best of show is a hand-crafted Adirondack guide boat. I think my readers understand my own love of wooden boats.

If you haven’t run across Doug’s blog, go there now and spend some time there. Doug is one of the most thoughtful woodworkers out there, and his blog is a complete reflection of that. I usually go to the Northeastern Woodworkers Association Woodworkers Showcase, but unfortunately I can’t make it this year because I’m away for work. I’m really disappointed, as I would like to meet Doug one day.


Fellow jurors, Ernie Conover, Bob Van Dyke and Freddy Roman had the same feeling about the quality of the boat and we came to a quick agreement. Best of Show. 

Seeing Ernie and Freddy would have been great too, as well as meeting Bob.

Next year.

Hand colored albumen print of two Japanese woodworkers slabbing...

Giant Cypress - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 3:28am

Hand colored albumen print of two Japanese woodworkers slabbing up some logs with maebiki, c. 1890. I like to think it’s the same two guys in this photo, after they got tired of having sawdust fall on them all day.

(Photo from Flickr / Okinawa Soba (Rob).)

This is a stereoview (c. 1870) of two Japanese woodworkers...

Giant Cypress - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 3:18am

This is a stereoview (c. 1870) of two Japanese woodworkers slabbing up some logs with maebiki. It’s hard to see the saw being used by the woodworker on the left due to the angle of the photo.

(Photo from Flickr / Okinawa Soba (Rob).)

Some pages from (Shoshoku ehon) Katsushika shin hinagata, a book...

Giant Cypress - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 7:38am

Some pages from (Shoshoku ehon) Katsushika shin hinagata, a book by Katsushika Hokusai, 1836. A Japanese plane, square, and sumitsubo, which is like a chalk line but with ink, can be seen in the top photo. The bottom photo shows a Japanese adze and a kick-butt mallet.

(Photos from the British Museum, where you can also find the rest of the book.)

Bookboards II

Giant Cypress - Sat, 03/25/2017 - 3:18am
Bookboards II:

Don Williams, at the Library of Congress rare book conservation lab: 

I let them try any number of re-sawing methods, ranging from my vintage 4tpi carpenter’s rip saw, my own bow saw or their bow saw, a range of Japanese saws they had in-house, my French style frame saws, etc.  I have to say that by nearly unanimous confirmation the Japanese saws came out the favorites.

Completely unsolicited comment, I swear.

Hi Wilbur: When it comes to making chairs, what is the japanese equivalent tool for a TRAVISHER? Thanks

Giant Cypress - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 4:38am

I’m not sure there’s a true equivalent, since traditional Japanese woodworking didn’t involve making chairs with sculpted seats. Having said that, there are Japanese planes with convex soles that can be used for that sort of task. They are sometimes referred to as “spoon planes”.

They are made in various sizes ranging from large block plane size to finger planes. Here’s one that I have that’s on the finger plane of the spectrum.

If I was to try to make a chair seat with Japanese tools, I’d probably start by using a gouge to get rid of most of the wood, and then use an appropriately sized version of one of these planes for the finishing steps. If you want to see how someone who actually knows what he’s doing did this, Brian Holcombe has a great article on how he made a chair using Japanese tools.

Go Johnny, go.

Giant Cypress - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 10:48am

Go Johnny, go.

Hello Wilbur. What do you think about hollow on the back of the blade (urasuki?) being non-symmetric? There's a blog post of yours from about 6 years ago where you restored a plane blade and flat portions of the back had a very artistic profile. I'm...

Giant Cypress - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 5:48am

Ideally, the ura should be symmetric. If you’re rehabbing a used chisel, there are going to be some factors out of your control if you’re trying to accomplish that. First, you don’t know how well the chisel was made when it was new. If the hollow wasn’t symmetric to start, maintaining a symmetric ura as you use it is going to be difficult. 

The second factor is how well the previous owner(s) of that chisel maintained that ura. They may not have been particularly careful about that.

Having said that, the primary purpose of the ura is to ease sharpening by keeping a small area of steel at the cutting edge. Whether the rest of the ura is symmetric or not doesn’t affect this function of the ura. For me, I try to maintain the ura on my chisels and plane blades to look as nice as I can, but I don’t worry about it too much if it’s not perfect.

In any case, I think the attention paid to the appearance of the ura is a relatively modern phenomenon, especially when you look at lots of examples of used Japanese tools.


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