Kanenori Japanese Nata Billhook 180mm

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Ubiquitous in rural Japan, the Japanese nata is serious multi-purpose green woodworking tool. Like billhooks everywhere they are produced in a bewildering variety of shapes, but these were recommended to us as being the most suitable for making things (as opposed to agricultural and horticultural uses). Like many green woodworking tools they are relatively ineffective on dry hardwoods but will sail through green ash or sycamore beautifully.

The 180mm version has a 6mm thick, double bevelled laminated blade that will easily take a shaving sharp edge. Thanks to it's wide, flat primary bevels it can also be used for splitting and light chopping - preparing kindling or roughing out blanks for the lathe, shave horse or spoon carving.

Flat bevels are important for finer work because they allow the cutting edge to engage at very shallow angles, essential when pointing sticks, feathering away waste material to form a shape and any other tasks that call for a shallow glancing cut. At the other extreme (steeper angles of incidence) the slightly crowned cutting edge of the nata focusses the energy of a chopping blow to give more bite, just as the curved edge of a felling axe does.

You can batten it through small rounds, hitting the back of the blade with a log or froe mallet, (this longer version is better suited to this) but avoid striking the handle connection directly. The flared handle provides a comfortable grip and prevents it from slipping out of your hand when chopping.

Approximate measurements:

  • Overall length: 365mm (14")
  • Blade length: 185mm (7¼")
  • Blade width: 53 - 42mm (2 - 1")
  • Handle length: 176mm (7")
  • Handle thickness: 32 - 45mm (1¼ - 1¾")
  • Blade thickness, tapers down from: 5mm (3/16")
  • Leather Blade cover.