First foray into smoothing planes with their steeper blade angles and ability to take fine shavings is this Kakuri wooden body from Lee Valley (USD$36.50)
Click on the photo for the item in their catalog
It is sort of Japanese in that it has a white-oak heartwood body, and you operate by pulling the plane *towards* you as is done with japanese saws. Typically the blade is held in place in the body with a wooden wedge that you tap into place with a hammer. This one uses a chip breaker and a threaded knob to press the blade into place. However, you still perform fine adjustments to the blade depth with small taps to the body. It sounds tricky but it actually works really nicely once you get the hang of it.
First, though, the blade arrived in very poor tune. Not sharp enough to shave with and very out of square
30 minutes of steady work across 50 grit sandpaper on a glass reference surface with my honing jig, and then a quick polishing from my 700 to my 8000 wet-stones, and...