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Speaking of joinery, Neil Cronk started an interesting woodworking exercise on Twitter. Towards the end of March, Neil decided, for reasons that remain unknown to me, to take on cutting a lock rabbet miter joint, which is usually made with a router table, using hand tools instead. He live-tweeted this project, and it was fun to watch.
As a sequel, Neil decided to take on the lapped gooseneck joint, also known as a kamatsugi. In addition, Chris Wong, Adam Maxwell, and Shannon Rogers decided to join in. I decided to give this a try because someone needed to cut this joint with Japanese tools.
There are a number of variants of this joint. I decided to try making the mechigaihozotsuki kamatsugi, which is distinguished by incorporating a stub tenon in the lower half of the joint. This is a diagram of this joint, taken from The Complete Japanese Joinery. It was used for joining large beams end-to-end.
I started by milling up a 2x2 piece of walnut and crosscutting it. Each piece was laid out and marked separately. This was traditional practice. Although some of the lines could be marked together, many times it was not practical to line up large beams for this task. In fact, sometimes the layout was done by different people, relying on their skill to lay the lines out accurately.
I worked on making the male piece first. The first cut was made along the grain, defining the bottom face of the gooseneck and the top face of the half-lap. With this cut, I realized that the 210 mm ryoba that I usually use for joinery cuts was a bit small for 2x2 pieces, and switched to a 240 mm ryoba.
The next two cuts define the head of the gooseneck.
A vertical cut is made on the underside of the male piece. I knew at this point that I had already made my first mistake, which was cutting on the wrong side of the line.
Two shallow cuts are made to define the sloped back side of the goose head.
And a chisel was used to chop out the waste.
Some more saw cuts, chopping, and paring finish off the underside tenon.
This finished off the male piece. To make the female piece, I started by sawing waste off to provide the half-lap.
Sawcuts were made to define the neck, and more chiseling defined the mortise in the area of the head.
You can barely see a faint line on the side wall that is clearly not perpendicular, This is to mark the slope of the face of the female piece that matches up with the slope of the back of the goose head. I used the line as a guide to angle my chisel for paring. I don’t think achieving a perfect fit here is important. Like dovetails, the mechanical advantage will be there even if the fit isn’t perfect.
The last step was to make saw cuts and some chopping to define the mortise on the bottom of this piece. I forgot to take a picture of this part.
Then came fitting. This took up quite a bit of time, partially due to lack of experience on my part, and partially because I had to figure out which face of the joint to pare back to achieve a better fit. Finally, I was able to achieve this.
The male piece is not completely seated, but at this point the two pieces are wedged so closely together that this joint will stay this way for a very long time, even though there isn’t any glue in this joint.
After planing, though, it looked really good, for a first try.
The gap on the lower half reflects my sawing on the wrong side of that line early on in the process. It represents a two-saw kerf error. But overall, this joint came together surprisingly well, given that I didn’t mark one piece off of the other, and that I didn’t knife any of my lines before starting to cut them. Total time: about 30 minutes to mark the pieces, 1-1/2 hours for the making of the pieces, and 30 minutes of final fitting.
If you’re interested in seeing more, go to Twitter and look for #HandJoinery. This was a lot of fun.
Jackie Chan. Chopsticks. Woodworking. What’s not to like?
The Complete Japanese Joinery, by Hideo Sato and Yasua Nakahara (translated by Koichi Paul Nii). Many people consider this to be the bible of Japanese joinery.
The Art of Japanese Joinery, by Kiyosi Seike. Terrific pictures, not as much detail on the uses and construction of these joints.
The Genius of Japanese Carpentry, by S. Azby Brown. More concerned with the architectural aspects of Japanese joinery, but has a nice photo essay on cutting a half-lapped gooseneck joint.
Picking just one would be difficult. I have all three books, and wouldn’t be without any of them. I would get The Complete Japanese Joinery first, but realize that you eventually get all three.
Executive summary of WoodTalk #177.
Go listen. It’s a terrific discussion.
(Picture poached from Adam Maxwell.)
Last summer I had the chance to take a woodworking class with Yann Giguère. He’s a fantastic teacher, and I learned a ton from that class. Yann has since relocated to Brooklyn, and is offering classes at his studio and in the tri-state area. Check out Yann’s offerings, and if you take a class, it will be well worth it.
For Shannon Rogers: an 1858 parlor table made in the Modern French style, made by Jelliff & Co., Newark, and a late 18th century parlor chair made in the Rococo style, made by an unknown maker in New Brunswick, NJ.
Both can be seen at the Newark Museum.
Favorite moment of this week’s WoodTalk: the awkward pause after Marc says “If it’s made in Jersey, its gotta be good”— Shannon Rogers (@RenaissanceWW)March 18, 2014
Another Asian who truly rocks.
Hanging wall cabinet, made by George Nakashima out of cherry in 1958, on display at the Newark Museum. The most interesting thing to me is the use of dowel joints alongside the expected dovetails.
Also note that the angles of these dovetails are fairly acute compared to the skinny-pin dovetails seen on many pieces. The pieces that I saw on my visit to the Nakashima workshop showed that this was a fairly consistent practice by George Nakashima.
Getting ready for my talk at the Greater Newark Mini Maker Faire.
Speaking of sharpening Japanese saws…
(From the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Thanks to the Sturdy Butterfly for the link.)
In Ottawa, opposites do seem to attract.
I'm in the market for some Japanese chisels. What are your thoughts on the "house" brands from Japan Woodworker and Hida Tool? Are they decent value compared to say the Narex chisels?
I haven’t had personal experience with those brands of chisels, so I don’t think I can draw any sort of meaningful comparison.
This is where your relationship with a Japanese tool seller really becomes valuable. Most of the tool sellers out there are not looking to run a business by selling a piece of crap and ripping you off. If they did that, they make a profit, but only over a single transaction. But if you have a pleasant transaction with them, then odds are that you are going to buy more tools from them in the future, in which case the tool seller will make money over a number of transactions.
I would contact both Japan Woodworker and Hida Tool and see what they have to say about these chisels, and how they compare to other brands. Whichever place gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, that’s the place to get your chisels from.
Mike Rowe, on a protest at Ottawa Township High School in Ottawa, IL, where the school board simultaneously cut funding for the building trades class and approved raises for administrators:
Having said all that, I’m standing with the kids at Ottawa Township High School. I can’t speak to their motives. I have no idea if they care more about the teacher, or more about the demise of vocational education. Maybe they’re just bored high-schoolers looking to snap the monotony of a long winter. But either way, if I could be there with them, I would. Because I like what’s happening. I like that these kids are willing to suffer the consequences of speaking their minds. I like that the local trade unions are supporting them. I like that the press is covering it. But mostly, I like that somebody is standing up for the skilled trades. Finally. In a place where it really matters.
When the performing arts were cut from high schools, there was a great outcry. And with good reason. Music and drama transform countless kids into something better than they were. I was one of them. But when the vocational arts got cut, no one made a peep. And that was a big, fat mistake that the country is paying for in a huge way.
The Greater Newark Mini Maker Faire, hosted by the Newark Museum, will be held on Saturday, April 5. Although the entire schedule hasn’t been finalized yet, I’ll be giving a talk on Japanese woodworking at 11:30 am. Like the talk I gave at Maker Faire New York, it has an overly pretentious title: “Means to an End: The Convergence of Japanese and Western Woodworking Tools”. Much of the talk will be similar to what I covered at Maker Faire New York, but there is some new material, and there will be time for an extended Q&A. If I put everyone to sleep, then there will be nap time instead.
Hope to see you there! I’m really looking forward to this.
This woodblock print by Yoshu Chikanobu, titled Kocho of Kadoebi-ro and Yoshi of Nakanocho, probably was done for Girls’ Day, an annual Japanese festival held in the spring where dolls are honored with food and drink. The inset shows some Japanese woodworking tools, which may refer to Hidari Jingoro, a famous carpenter who was thought to have created a doll which came to life.
(Thanks to the Sturdy Butterfly for the link. More information can be found at the Claremont College Digital Library.)
As I attempted to do with my article on Japanese chisels in Popular Woodworking Magazine last year, I tried to place an Easter egg in the article on chipbreakers that Kees van der Heiden and I co-wrote for the magazine (out on newsstands now). This time, I wanted to caption the photos for the article with titles of songs by Radiohead. Some of them didn’t survive the red pen.
Here are the titles that I wanted to use. Matching them to the photos in the article is left as an exercise for the reader.
- The Bends
- Blow Out
- Fitter Happier
- Little by Little
- Where I End and You Begin
Maybe next time I’ll get away with it.
(Photo from Radiohead.)
Wilbur: Could have picked a better angle for the picture. We do say that the angle isn’t critical in the text.
Ben: i am setting my honing guide to 62.33°
Wilbur: We had a 14 page chart w/optimal settings, but space considerations prevented us from including it in the article.
Ben: what grit should I use to finish the breaker? I usually go up to 60k and then finish by playing soft jazz
Wilbur: You can get away with a 25k waterstone, but only if you soak it in unicorn tears.
Ben: happy tears or sad tears?
Wilbur: Only use unicorn tears elicited by listening to Bon Iver. Preferably pre-2008 Bon Iver.
Megan: Wilbur, I'll run your 14-page chart on the blog, with a Bon Iver soundtrack. The unicorn tears are on you, though.
Ben: I think Lee Valley has them available, but only in Canada #runfortheborder
Megan: Huh. I'd have guessed Bridge City Tools. Unicorn tears = Portland.
Everyone knows that pulling a plane is something that is only done in Japan.