|Yokoyama-san's Reigou plane is my most favorite and most recommended plane. If I were to own only one plane I would definitely go for this one. It goes super with anykind of wood, soft to very hard. In my oppinion Yokoyama-san's tools are THE best in Japan at the moment considering the performance and the cost effectiveness. There are a couple of planes such as Usui-Kengo's that are similar in performance but they are usually much much more expensive.|
|About Togo-Reigou Steel and Yokoyama Kunio|
Togo (Tou-gou) Reigou steel (="#0 of Admiral Togo steel". Togo Heihachirou is an admiral of Imperial Japanese Navy) is a very rare steel produced by a British steel company (Andrews Steel Company) using Swedish sand steels as raw material in late 19th century. These steel were imported to Japan by Kawai Steel Co. and asked the general at that time for his permission to christen Kawai's products with the name of this undefeated generel. These were revolutionary steels to replace the hard to use usually inferior in quality (uneven in carbon content) Tama-hagane. There were 11 labels for Togo steel, and Reigou was the most expensive one. The hardness and tenacity of this steel is just amazing. It sharpenes to a super keen edge like White steel #1, yet the edge lasts like Blue Super steel. Togo steels are no longer produced, and the quality is just absolutely superb even compared to various modern high quality steels.
Reigou was easier to forge compared to the almost impossible Tamahagane, but it was still very difficult compared to the modern Aogami (Blue Steel) and Shirogami (White Steel) steels. The hardening temperature range is very narrow. Thus there were basically only two blacksmiths who could properly forge Tougou-Reigou into handtools. One was the late Sakata Kenji, and another is his very close friend Yokoyama Kunio. Sakata has passed away about 4 years ago (2003), so Yokoyama is the only person who can forge Reigou using pine charcoal now. The reason Yokoyama-san still has enough Reigou steel to make plane blades, is because he received all remaining Reigou steel from Sakata Kenji's son when he returned the factory to the landlord recently.
He has already used up half of the remaining stock, so it won't be long until he runs out of them, and once gone, Reigou plane would be a super rare collector's item.
Yokoyama-san keeps resigning to be qualified as a Certified Traditional Craftsman (because he doesn't want his tools to become too expensive by becoming famous). His name is still not so well known to the wide public (many of the kezuroukai members just adore his plane and keep to themselves!) so the price is still quite reasonable.
Yokoyama-san can handle just any kind of steel. White steel #1, Uddeholm Assab K120 (Swedish steel), Uddeholm Boeler K990, various Blue Steels, and not to forget Reigou and Inukubi steel (both very difficult to forge. Inukubi again can be handled by Yokoyama and Nakano only). Togo Inukubi (dog neck=the label of this steel had a dogs face on) steel, is closer to carbon steel such as White Steel thus more suited to softer woods. Many people think Inukubi steel is similar to High Speed Steel because of the misleading description on the label of this steel, but it is definitely not like HSS. It is fairly easy to sharpen and the edge become extremely sharp, but not as long lasting as Reigou. The only similarity between Inukubi and HSS is that they are both very difficult to stretch and laminate (stick to iron). This is why Inukubi steel's plane blade has shorter steel laminated.
Above mentioned steels are all totally different in their property of handling, but Yokoyama-san can handle basically any kind of steel. I'll be selling Usui Kengo's planes but basically I intend to concentrate on introducing Yokoyama-san's plane and my original plane "Wago" as my two most recommended planes to those who are willing to try something not famous out of Japan. In my oppinion Yokoyama planes are the best in quality, and at the same time the most cost effective tool at this moment. Usui-san's planes were fantastic maybe 20 years ago when even the best ones only costed $400 (such as Ken-kon. "Sprit of the Sword".) The quality is of course still very good but now that he is so famous they are a bit too expensive. I use Kenmei frequently and have compared it many times with Yokoyama Reigou side by side, and Yokoyama Reigou is definitely as good as Kenmei's quality. The pull is even lighter than Kenmei in my oppinion. Kenmei's feel is a bit wet and sticky, when Reigou's is more like White steel's light dry feel when planing. My father asked Usui-san how much it would be if he made a plane blade with Reigou, and it would be at least $1900 according to Usui-san. This is because the blacksmith has to waste many steel in order to make one proper blade, the wasted steel's cost has to be added to the proper one. Yokoyama-san makes 7 proper blades out of 10, which is an amazing rate of success. After all he is a man who boasts that he can forge Swedish steels with his both eyes closed!
Go back to [Togo Reigou Plane "Kuni" by Yokoyama Kunio]
Go back to [Togo Reigou Plane "En" by Yokoyama Kunio]