These Masters Can Slice Wood So Thin You'd Think It Was Paper
Sep 1, 2015
Each year craftsmen around Japan gather for a yearly planing competition to see who can carve the thinnest strip of wood using this deceptively simple tool. What might sound silly at first becomes a powerful challenge when you realize the levels of thickness each contestant is trying to achieve.
The winning strip of wood was cut just nine microns thick. For comparison, a human red blood cell is 5 microns across. If you set two blood cells end to end, it would be just a little bit bigger than the final thickness achieved by these competitors.
If you've ever stepped into a wood shop, you've probably seen a hand plane. This simple tool usually features a blade inclined on a flat surface that is used to smooth out and flatten wood. It's a staple of work rooms everywhere but in Japan, planing is its art form.