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My friend and neighbor, Takuji Matsuda, enjoys the advantages of a western workbench. You read part one of my workshop tour here. But when it comes to planes, Takuji prefers traditional Japanese planes which are pulled towards the body, whereas the Western plane is pushed away from the user.

To help Takuji plane surfaces and true up crosscut end grain while working on a simple table that is devoid of a vise, Mr. Matsuda built an elevated platform that has two ledges. The upright ledge serves as a fence and helps him arrest boards from sliding towards him when he planes surfaces. The other ledge, which is facing down at a right angle to the first one, helps him register the platform to the table, but also assist in supporting a plane when using the platform as a shooting board. Because the Japanese wooden planes are lighter than their Western cast iron or bronze counterparts, Takuji is able to use the plane vertically and shoot the end grain almost effortless.

The other factor that plays a pivotal role in the success of the process is the plane’s geometry. Japanese planes have an exceptionally long nose, (or surface in front of the blade). This attribute provides Takuji a reliable resting and registration surface when sliding the plane against the down facing broad ledge. These two unique characteristics of the plane ensure the quality of the shooting procedure.

Takuji sharpen his tools using DMT stones followed by Japanese water stones. He likes the rapid and consistent steel abrasion that a diamond stone provides, but he also appreciate the unprecedented quality of the water stones when final honing is required.

– Yoav Liberman

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