A year or so ago, I bought a few Japanese kanna (handplanes) and chisels from some of the usual online suppliers. I did my “research” and thought I would be getting quality tools. After setting them up and working with them for a while, I was not satisfied with their performance. I then dug through forums and other sources to figure out what I was doing wrong.
While digging around in the online forums and checking other sources of information to figure out what I was doing wrong, I came across a series of posts on a popular forum talking about the same issues that I was seeing. The thread was a few years old, so I sent a message to one of the posters to see if I could get contact information for this guy Stan that seemed to know what he was talking about. I got Stan’s email address and sent him an email asking for some advice and if he could point me in the right direction. Little did I know that I had stumbled onto not only a great source of information on Japanese tools, but a great guy with a great sense of humor that would help me down the path of tool nirvana…
Stan was an incredible resource of knowledge and very helpful in explaining that, although the tools that I bought were okay, they were effectively mass-produced versions of traditional hand-made Japanese tools. Although I was skeptical at first that the difference would be worth the price, I took a leap of faith and ordered a kanna and chisels to give them a try.
When they arrived (BTW, his service and packaging are equal to any company that I have ever purchased tools from…) I couldn’t immediately tell the difference, But after setting up the tools (which Stan and I exchanged dozens of emails over, and between that and the posts on this blog I got the –proper– information on how to set up Japanese tools… as opposed to the huge amount of misinformation on the internet and YouTube…) and sharpening them, I was simply amazed with the difference in the steel and performance.
These are true works of skill and craftsmanship from real blacksmiths that will last a lifetime. Their performance exceeds that of all the “high end” western planes and chisels I own. I use them on almost every project.
My only wish is that I had found Stan earlier in the process and avoided the wasted expense and aggravation the lesser-quality tools caused me.
Since that original purchase, I have ordered a few more kanna, a set of usunomi, a few gennou heads, and various other items (yep, went right down the rabbit hole…) from Stan. The service is always perfect. When one kanna blade caused me concern, I sent him a picture of the problem. He immediately had me return it, and then shipped a replacement to me without waiting and at no charge.
Between his advice and service, I couldn’t ask for a better supplier for the highest quality lifetime Japanese tools. And most of all, Stan is someone who has earned my trust and respect with his advice and friendly words.
Now I just need to check off a trip to Japan from my bucket list to shake his hand…