Follow-up from Jay van Arsdale:
The large plane used in the video is called a “beam plane” and is generally used in temple construction where the beam surface is finished with one pass of the plane which is the size of the width of the beam, instead of multiple passes using a narrower plane blade(which works too, but not used on highest end construction, which is what temple building is all about.)
In the planing contests, port orford cedar – “hinoki” in Japan, is used because it has incredible clear grain structure which gives the most consistant thin shavings possible. The shavings are measured with an optical microscope. The record I heard of was a mere 3 microns – smoke dimensions – actually looks like spider webs. My best effort that was measured was about 9-10 micron. Most woods wont even have enough structure at that dimension to make a whole shaving. I routinely plane all types of wood with a japanese kanna – everything from kiri (soft balsa wood catagory) to wenge , curly maple and road grain mahogany. Most of the time the softer woods are more difficult to plane because they compress and don’t cut if the blade is not just right (sharp/polished). I have planed walnut with a plane that wouldn’t cut western red cedar – walnut being more brittle made a shaving, did not compress as the wrc did that didn’t make the same depth cut.