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Hello Kitty turns 40 years old this year, and there’s a retrospective which opens in October at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Carolina Miranda, in the L.A. Times:
When [Christine] Yano was preparing her written texts for the exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, she says she described Hello Kitty as a cat. “I was corrected — very firmly,” she says. “That’s one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”
Wow. You learn something new every day.
While in the Wangfujing Xinhua Bookstore, which is said to be the largest bookstores in Beijing, I found the section with books on crafts and hobbies. The small green box in the lower left hand corner outlines the woodworking books.
The rest of the books? All on knitting. Figures.
Hi Wilbur! Does one use a bench hook in Japanese traditional woodworking? Have you seen one being used or do you use one? If so would its design be something like the reverse of a typical bench hook design? Do Japanese traditional woodworkers rely on...
There are methods of setting up what effectively is a bench hook for shooting the end of a board or for jointing an edge so that it is square to your reference face. Stay tuned for more information.
I do have a more traditional-looking bench hook with an adjustable fence that I use for shooting the ends of a board with a Japanese plane. It’s made by Rob Hanson of Evenfall Studios, and it’s terrific.
On the other hand, being Chinese is pretty awesome.
David Savage starts a series of articles detailing his experience with rehabbing a used Japanese plane on the Lost Art Press blog. This will be a great read.
Window motif, found in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.
Hi, Wilbur! Love the blog, it has helped me through a lot of murky waters. I'm still stuck on the issue of sawing hardwoods with a Japanese saw. I would like to order the 210mm and 270 Gyokucho ryobas as my first made-in-Japan Japanese saws, but am...
Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it.
The issue of the difficulties Japanese saws have with hardwoods is overblown. It’s possible to break the teeth of a Japanese saw, but that’s an issue of technique, and even then, it’s not easy to do that. In terms of speed, that’s much more operator-dependent than a factor of the type of saw itself. The quality of the cut from a Japanese saw, on the other hand, can and will be excellent.
In a nutshell, if you’re interested in giving Japanese saws a try, go for it. At the end of the day, that’s going to be the only way to find out if they are for you. But my bet is that you’ll be happy with them.
Hi Wilbur, would you say a properly tuned and very sharp smoothing kanna at 42 degrees is capable of smoothing most wood species hard or softwood and will be a good all around smoothing plane to have? Does one really need a kanna with a bedding angle...
I know that I can deal with most North America species pretty well with a Japanese plane that has a bed angle in the 40° range. I have one Japanese plane with a 45° bed angle that takes care of any board I can’t deal with my other planes.
The Tsunesaburo plane company seems to like 39-41° as a good bed angle for cherry and birch, and 42° for oak and maple. But I would caution that there is a lot more going on than the specific bed angle of your plane. Although increasing bed angle is one way to go, sharpness and setting your plane to take a thinner shaving goes a long way towards reducing tearout, and of course, there’s the chipbreaker. When I took Yann Giguère’s class last summer, I managed to get a tearout-free surface on a piece of bubinga by sharpening the blade and tweaking the chipbreaker of my 40° Japanese plane.
Did you know that lacquerware was once referred to as “japan,” in the way porcelain is still referred to as “china”?
Woodworking content: The word “Japanning” is still in common use by vintage tool enthusiasts, as it refers to the tough asphaltum based paint that was often used on tools.
The actor Onoe Matsusuke II as the carpenter Rokusaburo, by Utagawa Toyokuni I, circa 1810.
(From the collection of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, UCLA. Thanks to the Sturdy Butterfly for the link.)
@LeeValleyTools Used to measure the thickness of shavings in planing contests for woodworkers who were REALLY bad at sharpening.— Wilbur Pan (@wilburpan)July 30, 2014
Glen Huey’s ridiculously flattering profile of yours truly. Hope to see you at Woodworking in America.
And again, if you’re in the Tri-State Area and can’t make to WIA, I’ll be at the Brooklyn Kezurou-Kai on Sept. 6. Don’t worry, Glen. I have a lot of great stuff saved up for WIA.
One more example of how much glue surface provided by a dovetail joint. This crib certainly looks like it has fairly wide-spaced tails, but if you do the same analysis as I did in my thought experiment, you find that the total glue surface is nearly the entire length of the joint.
(Original crib photo from Mark Firley, on Flickr.)
Four years ago, I wrote how the oft-mentioned adage “Shiny=sharp” might not be the best method of achieving a sharp edge. Also, in sharpening demonstrations that I’ve given over the years, I mention that the best and most direct way to see what you’re doing is to use a magnifying glass to check your edge as you go along.
This photo is from an article titled “Avoid Common Sharpening Mistakes” in the current issue of Wood magazine. I’m not saying that I was the source of these ideas, but it’s nice to see that mainstream woodworking magazines are mentioning the same strategies. Makes me think I might know what I’m doing.
The subject of the strength of dovetail joints came up in the Woodnet hand tool forum recently, and I realized that although I had always thought of a dovetail as being a very strong joint, I never had tried to work through why that might be the case.
My assumption had been that a dovetail was strong because of mechanical strength. The dovetail joint does provide some long grain-to-long grain glue surfaces, but I had always thought that this was a relatively minor factor, with the mechanical interlocking nature of the joint being the real hero in this story.
So let’s make a dovetail joint with two 3/4” thick boards. Here’s one of them, seen from the end.
And let’s lay out some dovetails. These are going to be utilitarian dovetails, such as you might do for a crate. No thought is going to be put into trying to emulate fancy London pattern dovetails, with their skinny pins. Just plain old dovetails, laid out fairly evenly.
The darker brown lines are the surfaces that you would paint with glue, and provide the long grain-to-long grain glue bond. Remember that these surfaces are 3/4” deep, since we are dovetailing together two boards, 3/4” thick. Thanks to the miracle of Pixelmator, I can rotate these lines and lay them end-to-end.
This surprised me. As it turns out, the long grain-to-long grain surfaces add up to an area that’s larger than the area of the end of the board itself. Most woodworkers, when they think of strong glue joints, think of a long grain edge-to-edge joint such as you would use to glue up a panel. This shows that a dovetail joint can provide more glue surface than an edge-to-edge joint over the same area.
So what if you happen to be a fan of fancy London pattern dovetail joints? We can redo the layout like this.
And layout the glue surfaces like in the first example.
And we find that the glue surfaces provided by this dovetail joint work out to be just about the same surface area as the end of the board.
Of course, if you have a wide enough board and wide enough tails, you’ll get to a point where the glue surface is going to be significantly smaller than the area covered by the end of the board. After playing around with some layouts, I found that you had to get to a point where the width of the tails were about three times the thickness of the board before this would be a factor. And at that point, the joint itself just starts looking weird to my eyes. I don’t think I’m alone in this. An image search of London pattern dovetails did not turn up many examples of this joint with very wide tails.
Audrey and Kate are simultaneously too awesome and too cute for words.
Hi there, what's the best site to identify Japanese chisel black smiths and the makers ? Hope to hear from you soon. Kind regards.
Daiku Dojo has a gallery of Japanese planes identified by maker. This gallery is for planes, so this probably won’t help you with chisels.
But beyond that, there’s not much in the way of a field guide to Japanese tool stamps. I always keep in mind that back in Japan and historically, there are a lot more blacksmiths than we see here in the U.S., so it wouldn’t be unusual to find a Japanese tool with a stamp that is not immediately recognizable. In addition, sometimes blacksmiths would stamp their tools with their particular mark, but also make a secondary line with a different stamp, and it sometimes wouldn’t be clear that the two lines of tools were made by the same blacksmith.
Cleaning a record with wood glue, with impressive results. Props to the maker of this video for using Miles Ahead for this demonstration.
This demo uses Titebond II. Being a fan of hide glue, I wonder if hide glue would work as well. But since hide glue dries harder than PVA glues, I would guess that peeling the glue layer off might be harder with hide glue as opposed to PVA glue.
Rob Hanson of Evenfall Studios dropped me a line to tell me that he has added three new shooting board layouts for his single chute shooting boards. The Multi is a five fence position board: 15, 22.5, 30, 45 and 90 degrees. The Ultra is a seven position board adding 60 and 75 beyond the Multi. The Ultra Plus is eight positions, adding 67.5 beyond the Ultra.
The shooting board I have and use with my Japanese planes is the same as the multi, plus a 60 degree position. Over four years later, and it’s still a terrific tool. His shooting boards can be configured for western planes as well, of course. Highly recommended.
Rob also mentioned that he recently joined Twitter: @evenfallstudios
(I don’t get any kickback for this. The Christopher Schwarz ethics policy is in effect.)