Thursday, February 14, 2008

Guitars are tools to make music...

...and planes are tools to make guitars.

While in Japan last year lucky Tim met Tomohito Iida, owner of a highly respected tool shop in Osaka. After returning to the States he decided to order a handmade 70mm smoothing plane (shown here). The plane is made using a kind of steel called tamahagane (sometimes translated as "jewel steel") that is used to make Samurai swords. To make this smoothing plane a thin layer of the tamahagane (the cutting edge part of the tool) is forge-welded to a heavy iron backing. The iron used is from links of nineteenth century anchor chain. You can't make this stuff up. Mr. Iida obtained the tamahagane from a swordmaker in Shimane and provided the material to master blacksmith Tsunesaburo in Miki who then created the tool. Spending the amount of money on a single tool that many people ordinarily spend on a monthly rent for a studio apartment here in San Francisco may seem excessive. But only to those whose lives are not defined by wood. And isn't your guitar worth that?

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