Kesurokai in Japanese means 'planing together' and at the centre of Kesurokai meetings in Japan are planing competitions. In these the craftsmen compete to produce long, perfectly even, paper-thin shavings from blocks of wood with a plane. This is not just a test of their skills with the tool, but also their sharpening skills.
The Japanese craftsmen take great pride in their sharpening, spending many hours keeping their tools in perfect condition. This time is not wasted because the perfect, silky smooth finish left behind by a well-sharpened plane needs no further finishing. There is no need to spend time sanding as other carpenters would.
Japanese waterstones are renowned for their quick-working qualities and we use them to sharpen the many tools we have for our carving courses. Ours however are the cheaper, synthetic stones and we were quite astonished by the difference when Hannes gave us a natural stone brought back from Japan. The speed with which it cuts is quite remarkable.