Kanna japanese hand plane

The Japanese Kanna (Handplane) (鉋)

A Japanese hand plane, also known as a kanna (鉋), is a traditional hand tool used in Japanese woodworking. It is similar to a Western handplane, but it is typically smaller and has a more acute angle on the blade. The kanna is used for planing wood surfaces and creating smooth finishes. It is also used to create decorative edges and patterns on wood surfaces. The kanna is a versatile tool that is still used by traditional Japanese woodworkers today.

Japanese planes and saws have one thing in common that separates them from western hand planes, they both work on the pull stroke.  You can Buy a Japanese  Kanna Handplane on Amazon which we rhttps://amzn.to/3WDJExveceive a small commission.

Do I need sandpaper if using the Kanna?

The white steel used in the Kanna is capable of producing very fine shavings leaving a very fine finish. If used correctly the Japanese plane when fitted with a white steel blade or iron there is no need to sand the project smooth. 

The japanese hand plane is the last tool that is used to prepare wood. Little or no sanding is needed by a Samurai carpenter.

What are Japanese hand planes made from?

Traditional Japanese hand planes are made from

  1. Sole and Body : White or Red Japanese Oak
  2. Blue or White Steel Blade
  3. Nut to secure Iron and counter  blade
  4. Counter blade made from steel or wood

How thick is the blade on a Kanna?

Ple Japanese plane blade or iron as we westerners would call it is in most cases 4mm thick.

Can I plane hardwood with a Japanese Plane?

The traditional Japanese plane is better suited to planning softwoods. You can acquire modern alternatives that are fitted with high carbon tool steels which can cope with hardwoods. They cannot get such a keen edge as the white or blue steel can but a fine compromise.

  • Hira ganna (平鉋)Is the Japanese version or the Stanley Bailey No4. Like choosing sandpaper the planes are chosen for their aggressive nature.
    • Ara shikō ganna (荒仕工鉋) Start this one.
    • Chū shikō ganna (中仕工鉋).
    • Jō shikō ganna (上仕工鉋).
    • Shiage ganna (仕上げ鉋) Finish with this one.
  • Kiwa ganna (際鉋)The shoulder Japanese plane has its plane iron set at an angle exiting the bottom and the side.
  • Mizo ganna (溝鉋)router plane is routing kamoi and shikii 
  • Sori Kanna (反り鉋) similar to a compass plane but with the curve in both directions so the planing of dished sources is possible
  • Dainaoshi ganna (台直し鉋) is used to plane the surface of other planes. Its blade is held at 90 degrees to its base.
  • Yari ganna (槍鉋) is a handled tool looking like a spear-shaped chisel but it is a plane and historically used on temples. It has no wooden body and required a lot of skill to use.
  • Nankin Kanna (南京鉋) Two-handed spokeshave
  • Tsuki Kanna (突き鉋) This plane goes against the normal because this plane is used on the push stroke.

Japanese hand plane competition

Japanese woodworking is not only celebrated as a highly-skilled art but there is the tradition of planing competitions. The aim of the competition is to produce the thinnest shavings. Shavings are as thin as 3 microns have been recorded. 

To participate you will need a perfectly setup plane and good wood stock. Japanese carpenters travel from far away to participate in wood planing competitions. 


Would I buy a Japanese hand plane? All the planes in my workshop are there to do a job and I am fortunate to have a good selection of Stanley Bailey and I am very happy with. As a regular woodworker, I feel that the constant setting and titillation of the Kanna is not something I have time for.

Amazon links on this page for which we receive a small commission.

Check out our other Articles on Japanese Handtools


The Japanese Kanna (Handplane) (鉋)

Japanese Nokogiri (Saw)(鋸)

Japanese Nomi (Chisel) (鑿, のみ)

Japanese Genno (Hammer) (玄能)

Japanese Ono (Axe) (斧)

Japanese Chouna (Adze) (釿)

Scroll to Top