Baby Bird Kanna and Perseverance


The birds around here are tame enough to alight on a branch mere feet away and chirp.

I managed to get the bowl on my usu roughed out with the chainsaw, but then was left with the rather awkward task of smoothing out the bowl. In my mind I imagine a very large and heavy lathe with a faceplate I could bolt the thing to. At the least maybe a scorp or a serious looking swan neck gouge? Thinking of an episode of “Begin Japanology” with Peter Barakan on Sashimono woodworking though I remembered seeing a box of baby kanna with various shapes. So what leapt out at me was making a tiny hollow rocker plane from a piece of ebony and an old file for the blade.

Its nice to be working with someone with a collection of good steel lying around!


I used one of Mark’s baby kanna blades as a pattern and ground the file to a taper on a bench grinder after torch annealing so that it wedged properly. And of course it wouldn’t be complete as a tool without a little name, would it? The furigana dictionary I looked this up in has ‘tsukusu’ translated as v. “perseverance”, but my phone translates it as v. “serve”, apt in either case, and lots of fun chasing kanji and hiragana with a cold chisel, even if I didn’t get the stroke order on the top character correct. Only the tip of the blade is hardened, which allowed for the chasing of the characters.


Perfect for sculpting chair seats, or the sound board of a violin, and takes up very little space so I’m happy to have made one.


The sole is curved in both axis, across the width and length, which meant that the shaving escapement surface had to be curved as well. I had to cut the blade bedding groove with a fret saw as it was too small even for the nokogiri I had made specially for the purpose.


Considering that the heat treatment was done with a propane torch I’m really pleased with the edge holding, probably the best job I’ve done with a steel edge to date, maybe its just the good old steel.

Once again I find myself making a tool to make a tool. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a bunch of black locust end grain to take down, thank god its green lumber.

I can already taste the sweet mochi, so near!

2 thoughts on “Baby Bird Kanna and Perseverance”

  1. I remember that video- the kannas were made from blades that had grown too short.

    I can see that being used to make a bathtub, or kitchen sink. ..I’ve always wanted to try carving a stone sink after I saw that ‘Samurai Carpenter’ carve one.

    Knowing me, I would probably try carving that depression by drilling some holes in it, then burning it.

    1. Actually it was the worn dai that were used to make the sashimono dai. The tool steel lamination on a kanna only extends half of the length of the blade, so a worn blade would be of limited usefulness. Mark actually suggested to me to dry burning out the center a bit to clean it up after the chainsaw, but I took the brute effort approach of about eight hours planing the bowl with my little hollow rocker kanna.

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