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A monk asked Joshu, “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming to China?” Joshu said, “The oak tree in the garden.”A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the living meaning of Zen?” Zhaozhou said, “The cypress tree in the yard.”
Updated: 26 min 15 sec ago

Japanese plane setup (Wilbur’s version) - VII: sharpening, flatness, and cutting corners

Thu, 05/16/2024 - 3:48am

I won’t sugarcoat this. Sharpening a used Japanese plane blade is a bit of a chore, because of the less than ideal condition the blade will be in.

Your best friend will be a sharpening jig of some sort that can hold the plane blade, and a coarse diamond plate. The jig is for convenience. You’re going to have to spend time holding the blade at your desired angle on the bevel side. This gets old fast. The coarse diamond plate is for quick removal of steel without dishing out the surface of your sharpening media. I love my waterstones, but the reality is that between the time I’ll have to spend on the tool and the fact that coarser waterstones tend to dish out faster means that having sharpening media that won’t dish out is the better option.

I’ll start by using the coarse diamond plate to work on the back and bevel.

Again, this will take time. But there are some things to do make things better. I generally keep an eye on the second hand of the clock in my shop, and make sure that I work the tool for 60 seconds before checking it. This doesn’t really speed things up, but it makes sure that I’ll make a visible amount of progress. There’s nothing more discouraging than working the tool, then checking it, and not seeing any progress.

Second, I’ll use my grinder to remove metal from the soft layer if needed. This is far faster than using my diamond plate to do that, and if I am careful to make sure that the grinder wheel is only touching the soft metal layer, there’s less chance of overheating the hard layer and drawing out the temper. This method is most useful if I’m increasing the bevel angle of the blade. In this situation, the jig will be set up so that the cutting edge touches the sharpening media first, and it’s fast to get through the hard layer. But once the bevel expands into the soft layer, things slow down. This is when I’ll use the grinder to remove a little of the bulge of soft metal on the bevel.

Conversely, if I wanted to lower the bevel angle, the top part of the soft metal layer on the bevel will touch the sharpening media first. I could use the diamond plate to get rid of this, but a grinder will be faster. In this case, I would position the grinder wheel so that it touches the top part of the soft layer.

Third, when working the back of the blade, don’t be shy about tapping out. As scary as tapping out may seem, it’s faster than just using the diamond plate.

Finally, use some method of visualizing the plane blade so you can really see how you’re progressing.

After a while, the bevel and back will be worked by the coarse diamond plate, leaving flat surfaces on the back and bevel with coarse scratches. The rest of sharpening will be to get rid of the coarse scratches.

Here’s where the importance of flatness comes in. I’ve found that there’s a stereotype of Japanese tool fans being obsessed with flatness when sharpening. It’s not a fascination with flatness for its own sake. It’s because making sure that all your sharpening media is flat means that you’ll get through the next steps quickly. It’s all about efficiency.

Here’s why. All sharpening media, except for diamond plates, has the potential to dish out in use. If the sharpening media is dished out, it will leave a slightly convex surface on the tool. When it’s time to move on to the next step in sharpening, the convex surface will not match the surface of the next step unless you got really lucky. That means it will take longer to cover the surface with the new sharpening media.

The way to avoid this is to make sure that your sharpening media is flat. If the sharpening media is flat, then the surface of the tool will be flat when you’re done with that step. And if the sharpening media for the next step is flat, then they will match, and it will take little time to complete the subsequent steps.

I’ve found this to be true in practice. I haven’t timed myself, but the first step I use for sharpening seems to take 85-90% of the total time, and the subsequent steps are quite fast.

In any case, eventually I get to the last step in sharpening, on my finest grit waterstone.

And I can place the sharpened plane blade into the body.

There are a couple of issues that still need addressing. The first is that the blade sits too low with just hand pressure. The second is that the corners of the blade extend to the outside of the throat of the plane. This will cause problems, as the corners of the blade would create a shaving, but then that part of the shaving would get hung up because there’s nowhere for it to go.

Dealing with the position will wait until we work on the bed of the plane body. Dealing with the corners is straightforward. The first thing to do is to mark the blade so we know where the throat will be. This can be done by using a pencil to draw a line where the inside of the throat meets the back of the plane blade.

The lines are clearly visible after taking the blade out.

Then I grind down the corners until they are just inside those lines.

And now the cutting edge doesn’t stick out past the sides of the throat anymore. As you use a Japanese plane and sharpen it, the width of the cutting edge will widen over time, and at some point you’ll have to grind the corners back.

Steve Albini, iconoclastic rock musician and engineer, dies at 61 →

Thu, 05/09/2024 - 4:48am

Steve Albini, iconoclastic rock musician and engineer, dies at 61

Lars Gotrich:

As a performer, [Steve Albini] fronted Shellac and Big Black, two indie-rock bands that pushed punk and noise past absurd and abrasive limits. Albini famously did not like to be called a “producer,” but he worked on — by his own estimate — “a couple thousand” records as a recording engineer, including classics like the Pixies‘ Surfer RosaNirvana's In Utero and PJ Harvey's Rid of Me.

I can’t say I’ve listened to anywhere close to a couple thousand Steve Albini records, but I’ve listened to and loved a ton of them. This one may be my favorite.

Check your edge

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 3:48am

When sharpening, here’s the best method I know of to see what’s going on with the tool. It’s a jeweler’s loupe, with a built-in LED.

These are ridiculously inexpensive. If you go to eBay, and do a search for “20x led loupe”, a ton of search results will come up. Today (6 May 2024), I found one for $7.99, shipped to my door.

There’s often chatter about woodworkers looking at their edges with a magnifying glass, as if it was a bad thing, a sign of OCD, or a waste of time. I think it’s the most direct way of seeing what happens to your edge as you sharpen, and a faster way of seeing if you have a sharp edge than feeling for a burr, looking for the line of light, or any other of the more acceptable methods.

Here’s an example of what you can see when you use one of these loupes. This is the back of a 24 mm Japanese chisel after I’ve used a 1000 grit waterstone on it. You can see the scratches from the waterstone on the back.

And here’s the back after using medium and fine grit natural Japanese waterstones. The scratches are nearly gone, and the overall surface is smooth.

As you can (literally) see, it’s easy to monitor your progress, and when you’re done with the current step in the sharpening process so you can move on to the next one.

In addition to being able to see what’s going on with the surface as you go up through the grits of your sharpening routine, seeing nicks and edge damage is trivially easy. Here’s an example of small nicks in the edge of a chisel that are obvious when looking directly at the tool.

I can see these nicks using the “line of light” test without using a loupe. But when I first started figuring out what a sharp edge was, looking at the edge under magnification let me know where the line of light should be, which then taught me how to use the line of light test. And even then, it’s not any faster than using a loupe.

Again, I don’t know why anyone would disparage the idea of directly examining the edge when sharpening. It’s easy and fast, which I’m sure is what we all want our woodworking tasks to be.

Japanese plane setup (Wilbur’s version) - V: smooth like butter

Thu, 05/02/2024 - 3:28am

There’s one other aspect of sharpening that is in play here. Besides getting the edge to a zero-radius, the surfaces that come to that zero-radius should be as smooth as possible. The good thing here is that any woodworker should be comfortable with that idea for tools, because any woodworker understands using sandpaper to smooth a wood surface by going up through the grits. The same principle applies with sharpening.

At this point, I’m going to stay away from the actual method of sharpening (waterstones, diamond plates, oilstones, Scary Sharp, etc.) because the principles are the same. So for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to use the term “widget” for the method of sharpening.

To get a better idea of what’s happening, here are some models of an edge tool that should show why getting a smooth surface is important.

This is an edge tool that has been sharpened with a relatively coarse grit widget. The coarse grits leave large scratches in the surface of the bevel and back of the tool.

The surfaces still come to a zero-radius, but this edge is not optimal. The large scratches results in little microteeth. The fact that the scratches don’t line up results in a little wavy profile on the edge. And if one of those microteeth break off, or get rolled over, you no longer have a zero-radius edge at that spot.

Now let’s move on to a less coarse grit widget, much like you might go from initial sanding at 80 grit to 120 grit.

The surfaces still have scratches, but the scratches are smaller. Again, there’s a zero-radius, but some waviness can be seen. The edge could still be improved. Let’s keep going.

Moving to the next higher grit widget continues to improve the edge. Let’s keep going.

And here’s the Platonic ideal of a sharp edge — two smooth surfaces, coming together at a zero-radius. This is a sharp edge, making it easy to cut through wood. And this edge will last a long time, as there are no miniature peaks to fail as the tool is used.

In fact, sometimes it’s said that there’s no use sharpening, say, a chisel to a very fine degree, as the first chop will destroy the edge. This model indicates otherwise — the further you go in sharpening, the more durable the edge will be. My experience tells me the same thing as well.

So that’s the goal.

Japanese plane setup (Wilbur’s version) - IV: sharpening is a zero-radius game

Mon, 04/29/2024 - 3:18am

As we noted before, sharpening the plane blade is the first step in setting up a Japanese plane, as sharpening changes the geometry of the blade, which in turn affects the fit of the blade in the plane. Sharpening gets a bad rap among woodworkers. It’s often thought of as a task that is not a great use of time. “I want to do woodworking, not sharpening,” is a common saying adopted by woodworkers.

I think that’s a mistaken concept. Sharpening is woodworking. It makes your tool easier and safer to use. With a sharp tool, you’ll use less effort and have more control over the results you’re trying to get. By not sharpening, there’s an implicit acceptance of making your woodworking task harder to do, with less chance of success.

Besides, if it really was true that woodworkers want to avoid sharpening at all costs, we would all be using Japanese tools. The steel in Japanese tools really does sharpen to a finer degree and holds sharpness longer than western tool steels, while being no harder to sharpen than western tools. There are two reasons to prefer a western chisel over a Japanese chisel. The first is that you like the feel of a bigger chisel, as Japanese chisels tend to be smaller than their western counterparts. The second is that you want to spend more time sharpening.

The good news is, it’s simpler and easier than you think to get really sharp edges.

The hardest part about sharpening is understanding what “sharp” really means, especially if you are trying to do this outside of a real-world, live class or demonstration. The best way I can explain what “sharp” is from a distance is this:

You have a sharp edge when the two sides of your plane blade/chisel have a zero-radius at the point where they meet.

Please note that I’m not talking about flat, or a mirror polish. Sharpness is often defined in these terms, but I like to avoid them because they focus on factors that are less important.

This diagram of cross sections of an edge shows why flatness isn’t the most important thing. On the left, there are two edges that are both sharp. One has two flat surfaces coming together at a point with a zero-radius. The second one is the same, but the surfaces are curved. (Think of the edge of a kitchen knife or an ax.) Both edges are going to be sharp.

The middle part of the diagram shows the same cross sections, but with a bit of a round-over with a small radius where the edges meet. This is an edge that is starting to get dull. This happens both with the flat and curved sides. The small amount of dulling has nothing to do with how flat or curved the sides might be, just what is happening at the edge.

The right part of the diagram shows the same cross sections, but with a greater round-over with a larger radius. Again, the flatness of the sides don’t have much to do with what is going on at the edge.

There are a number of tried and true methods of assessing the edge, and if you keep the idea of a zero-radius point, they will all make sense. One method of assessing sharpness as you sharpen a tool is getting a burr to form. The burr only forms once you’ve abraded enough material to eliminate the roundness from the edge of the tool. If there’s some roundness left at the edge, the metal will continue to come off without forming a burr.

Another method is to move the tool under a light while looking down at the edge of the tool, and to look for a line of light at the edge. If you see a line of light, then you need to keep sharpening. The reason the line of light appears is that if the edge still has some roundness to it, at some point the roundness will reflect light from the light source, which creates the “line of light” effect. If the two surfaces meet at a zero-radius, there’s no roundness to reflect light.

There’s also the fingernail test. A sharp edge will catch on your fingernail. (If you use this test, please be careful.) If the edge has some roundness, the edge will skate along your fingernail. But if the edge comes to a zero-radius point, it will catch.

This is not to say that flatness and a mirror polish aren’t useful in the sharpening process. It’s just that they aren’t the most important things. They both have a role to play in sharpening. We’ll get to how and why soon.


Sat, 04/27/2024 - 1:58pm

Any weirdness you’ve been seeing on the desktop version of Giant Cypress is me mucking around with a new theme. With the old theme, new posts have sometimes been displaying in unexpected ways, because of the new post format that Tumblr implemented. In addition, the old theme had become less well-behaved on mobile devices. So I thought it was time to redesign the blog.

The new theme has all the components that the old one did. I’ve carried over many of the design elements of the old theme, which I think is nice. It’s more responsive, with an improved look on a wider array of different screen sizes, on mobile and desktop. I think it scans better now, as well as having a better balance between text and photos for posts. And then there were the many tiny tweaks that may or may not have been that noticeable, but were driving me nuts. That’s why I spent a good 30 minutes this morning chasing down why a dot was positioning itself a hair to the right from where I was expecting it.

Anyway, I think I’m done, and I hope you like the new theme. If there’s anything that seems off, please let me know.

Here’s a short video of how I use the plane tapping out tool. Hopefully this will give a better…

Thu, 04/25/2024 - 3:08am

Here’s a short video of how I use the plane tapping out tool. Hopefully this will give a better sense of how hard I’m hitting the blade with the hammer part of the tool. This corresponds to about how hard I hit the blade with a hammer if I’m tapping out that way.

if it looks like the tapping out tool is placed at an awkward angle, it is. This was so I could get a good camera angle. Normally it would be sitting directly in front of me on the bench.

At 27 seconds long, this video is worth 810,000 words.

Japanese plane setup (Wilbur’s version) - III: Tapping out

Wed, 04/24/2024 - 3:28am

[Note: this step should not be needed with a new Japanese plane, but you never know. And It is an important part of sharpening and maintenance as you use your plane.]

Now that the plane blade is in better shape, we can turn to sharpening. The first thing to check with sharpening a Japanese plane blade is the hollow on the back. The back of the blade is where the hard steel layer is. When sharpening, if we were to work the entire back, that would be a real chore because of the hardness of the steel. The hollow is there to make this much easier, as only the flat part behind the cutting edge needs to be dealt with.

As the blade gets sharpened, however, eventually the flat area gets narrower, until it goes away, as on this plane blade. This isn’t as much of an issue with a chisel, because of the difference in how the hollows are constructed between plane blades and chisels. To fix this, we can tap out the blade. 

Tapping out causes much angst among woodworkers looking to use Japanese planes. I think that’s partially because that the traditional method of tapping out using a hammer and an anvil or some other supporting surface has the chance of disaster if the hammer blow hits too close to the edge. In my experience, that’s a bit overblown. If you have the hand-eye coordination to do woodworking, you’ll be able to do this task. 

The other issue is that the physical act of tapping out is hard to convey in words, especially regarding how hard to tap the blade with the hammer. I’ll do my best.

I’ve written elsewhere about using a hammer and an auto body float as an anvil for tapping out, and that system still works well. Since then, I found a device that makes tapping out a bit easier for people who don’t do it all the time. And to be honest, it’s easier for me, too. Here it is.

This device has a hammer head that comes to a point, mounted on a hinge. The blade is held in a carrier by two bolts.

The blade is positioned over a small rounded surface that serves as the anvil. This is located under where the point of the hammer will come down. The carrier slides in a track that allows you to move the blade back and forth.

By fixing the blade in the carrier, it can be positioned so that the hammer comes down in exactly the spot you want it to of the tapping out process. To get started, I put some pencil lines on the bevel side that corresponds to the flat area on the back that needs to be reestablished. 

Then I can use the device to start tapping. The point of the hammer is positioned about 2/3 to ¾ of the way up from the edge. I’ll start tapping with the hammer while sliding the plane blade back and forth, concentrating on the area that I marked with the pencil lines.

It’s hard to quantify how hard I’m hitting the blade with the hammer, but it’s probably in the ballpark of how I would be hammering a finish nail into a piece of pine. You will leave little dents in the soft layer of steel.

After some tapping, the bottom hard steel layer will be pushed down. You can see this by working the back of the blade after tapping. The flat area behind the cutting edge gets reestablished pretty quickly.

More interestingly, you can see the deformation of the blade from tapping out by working the bevel side of the blade with a coarse stone. The shallow hollow in the middle was created by the tapping out process.

And after more sharpening, that hollow goes away.

Is this device necessary for tapping out? No, but it sure makes it a lot easier. And given how simple the device is, it might not be too hard to rig up something like this on your own.

Japanese plane setup (Wilbur’s version) - II: plane blade rehab

Thu, 04/18/2024 - 3:48am

[Note: this step should not be needed with a new Japanese plane.]

This being a used Japanese plane, the blade isn’t perfect. It’s got a fair amount of mushrooming around the top of the plane blade.

The mushrooming is in three spots — at the top, and on the sides. This speaks to how consistent the previous owner of the plane must have been when tapping the blade to adjust its position. It also makes me think that the previous owner might have used a 1500g hammer for the adjusting.

I could just leave the mushrooming alone, but to my eyes, it doesn’t look great. From a more practical standpoint, I want to adjust the bevel angle when sharpening, which means that I’ll want to use my Grintec sharpening jig, and the mushrooming prevents the blade from fitting into the jig.

The approach to fixing the mushrooming wasn’t too sophisticated. I used a combination of hammering the mushroomed areas on a small anvil, grinding down the mushrooming, and a file. Here’s the end result.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than it was before. More importantly, the blade will now fit into my Grintec sharpening jig.

On to sharpening.

Godzilla, Columbo

Sat, 04/13/2024 - 5:18am


Godzilla, Columbo

Upcoming talk at the Maine Japanese Woodworking Festival

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 5:08am

Although I’ve alluded to this before, I realized today that I never explicitly mentioned this here. My bad.

The good folks at the Maine Japanese Woodworking Festival were kind enough to ask yours truly to teach and give a talk this year. The festival runs from July 26 - 28, 2024 in Mercer, Maine. The title of my talk is “The Japanese Tool Tradition: It’s Not What You Think It Is”. I figured it’s a good title — vague enough that I can keep tweaking the talk and still be in scope, and with just the right amount of clickbaitiness.

I know I’ll be covering the things that make Japanese tools so awesome — Japanese tool steel, blacksmithing, and tool making techniques and construction, and so on. I’m also putting together thoughts about where Japanese woodworking sits in the wider woodworking world, some of which were informed by my trip to Japan last year.

Here’s the link to register. Hope to see you there.

Japanese plane setup (Wilbur’s version) - I: where to start

Tue, 04/09/2024 - 3:38am

Back in 2010 I put together a series of posts on how to set up a Japanese plane. I’ve been told that these posts were good, but there are aspects of Japanese plane set up that I didn’t cover back then, and other aspects that have changed a bit over time. I figured if Taylor Swift can rerecord her catalog, I could revisit Japanese plane set up.

This time, I’m starting with a used plane instead of a new one. The set up process will be the same with the exception of one step that may or may not be needed for a used plane. I’ll be sure to point that out when we get there.

Here’s our plane. I found it on eBay. It has a standard 70mm blade, and is in decent, but not great shape.

To my eye, the blade looks decent. The flat area between the hollow and the cutting edge is too narrow, but that can be fixed with sharpening. From what I can see on the bevel, the lamination looks even, and the hard steel layer is nice and thin. It’s hard for this to show in a photo, as the bevel is a little rough, which hides the lamination a bit. We’ll see how it looks once I sharpen it.

The body is in okay shape.

There’s some waxy stuff on the bed of the plane. My guess is that the blade was projecting too far forward, and this stuff was applied to build the bed up to fix that. I will be getting rid of this at some point, and using what I think is a better way to fix this.

There’s also an insert that was put in to tighten up the mouth. In the picture above, you can see three nails holding this in place. Here’s the view from the bottom.

There’s also a crack in the back part of the body. There’s some stuff in the crack, and a nail that was driven through the body of the plane, which was clenched to hold this together.

So this is where we’re starting. The first thing to do is to sharpen the blade.

Why sharpen the blade? It’s not because Japanese tool fans are obsessed with sharpening. There’s a practical reason for doing this. The blade of a Japanese plane is not perfectly even. There’s a slight wedge shape to the blade which can be seen from the side.

The wedge shape matches the wedge-shaped side grooves in the throat of the plane, and this is what keeps the plane blade in place when you use a hammer to adjust it. If I worked on the plane bed to fit it to the blade without sharpening it, and then sharpened the blade, which shortens the plane blade, the fit would not be optimal after the sharpening.

So sharpening first it is.

Into the gap

Fri, 04/05/2024 - 5:08am

One of the things that resulted from the COVID pandemic was that I wound up teaching the OCIA course for our church (long story). The students got their sacraments at the Easter Vigil Mass, and I decided to make crucifixes for them as a gift. This should be a pretty straightforward project — mill out pieces of wood for the upright and crosspiece portions of the cross, cut a lap joint, glue, finish, and attach the corpus and INRI plaque.

But it is a truism in woodworking that the smaller projects are the hardest to do, because you see every detail. And for this crucifix, there was a detail that bugged me.

On the lower part of the bridle joint to the left, there’s a bit of a gap. That’s where I went a little off my line. It happens. Structurally, this joint would be fine, but visually this stuck out to me like a sore thumb. The good thing is that this is pretty easy to mitigate.

The way I fix small gaps in joinery like this is to use plane shavings to fill in the void. The first thing is to figure out the best orientation for that shaving. You want the shaving to go with the grain of one of the two parts of the joint. In this case, it would be along the grain of the crosspiece.

Then make some shavings from another piece of wood that’s the same species as the piece. (It does occur to me that if you use a contrasting piece of wood for this, you’ve moved from fixing a gap in a joint to making inlay.)

Japanese planes are well known for their ability to make gossamer-thin shavings less than 0.001" thick. That’s not what we want here.

I test fit the shaving until I find the section that fits well, and then trim down the shaving with a pair of scissors.

Then glue up and clamp the joint. I’m a big fan of liquid hide glue overall, but it’s especially good in this situation because it makes the shavings slippery enough so that everything fits together. Don’t worry that the joint will look like one of Phyllis Diller’s outfits. We’ll fix that later.

After the glue dries, the joint will look like a mess. Again, don’t worry.

Now I use a chisel to get rid of most of the shavings hanging off the joint as well as the dried glue squeeze out, and a plane to bring everything flush. The joint looks much better now.

As it turned out, I was also making a small divider for a container that sits in one of our kitchen drawers, and left a little gap in that joint as well. I used the same technique to fix that, even though it will sit in a drawer, and will never see the light of day, because that’s what woodworking has done to me.

For the crucifix, I used shellac and wax for the finish, and attached the corpus and INRI plaque. It turned out pretty nice.

And that’s when I noticed that Jesus’s head would have covered up that gap anyway. I guess Jesus really does save.

It Was 25 Years Ago Today! →

Tue, 04/02/2024 - 7:38am

It Was 25 Years Ago Today!

Joel Moskowitz celebrates the 25th anniversary of Tools For Working Wood.

Congratulations! Joel’s one of the good guys.

Happy Easter from the King of the Monsters and Giant Cypress!

Sun, 03/31/2024 - 5:08am

Happy Easter from the King of the Monsters and Giant Cypress!

I Go To Pieces

Fri, 03/29/2024 - 9:38am

I picked up this Japanese plane from eBay for a completely different reason than what I’m highlighting in this post. When it arrived, I was a bit surprised by the body of the plane, as it was made in a way that I had heard about, but never had seen in person. I didn’t anticipate this, because of low-res pictures on the eBay listing.

The body of this plane was not a single piece of wood, as usual. Instead, it was laminated together from multiple pieces of wood. Here’s a closeup of the top.

Here’s the bottom of the plane.

And a view from the end of the plane.

Taking a close look at the side, there’s evidence of machine-made finger joints for the end-to-end connections between the pieces.

Without any other information, my guess is that this plane body was made from a piece of butcher block countertop, or something like that. I don’t think this is a usual method of making planes, as I’ve not run across this in over a dozen years looking at used plane auctions. And no Japanese tool seller that I know of offers plane bodies made like this.

The plane works pretty well, though. I gave it a try on a scrap piece of walnut without conditioning the sole or any of the usual Japanese plane set up procedures, because I was impatient. It still pulled nice shavings and left a nice surface on the walnut.

It will be interesting to see how this plane works once I actually set it up.

@julietwiskey1 — this a running joke I haven’t done in a while. When I first started woodworking,…

Thu, 03/28/2024 - 5:28am




I teach the OCIA class at St. Bartholomew, our church. For this year’s group, I made some pens as gifts. The pen blanks are all some sort of unidentified Brazilian hardwood.

The first step in making these pens is to cut the pen blanks into two pieces, and I used my dozuki for that. I forgot that you can’t use Japanese saws on hardwoods, much less tropical species.

Lovely, yes, hardwood is brutal on Japanese saws….

Is that because Japanese saws tend to have high teeth per inch counts or for some other reason?

@julietwiskey1 — this a running joke I haven’t done in a while. When I first started woodworking, Japanese tools had a reputation in the US/European hobbyist woodworking world for only being suitable for use in softwoods, and therefore not suitable for “real” woodworking. I knew that wasn’t the case, as evidenced by the fact that Japanese woodworking can and does use hardwood species, including those from Southeast Asia, like various rosewoods.

Besides covering this topic in my talks and articles on Japanese tools, I have a running joke here on Giant Cypress where I would post work that I or (usually) other people have done with Japanese tools and hardwood species, and comment that “so-and-so doesn’t know that you can’t use Japanese tools on hardwoods.”

In the time I’ve been writing about Japanese tools, I like to think that I was able to help put that myth to rest, and it does seem to me that this sort of chatter has died down somewhat over the years. As a result, I haven’t done this gag in a while. Recently, however, the “Japanese tools can’t be used on hardwoods” trope has popped up on my radar. Maybe it’s time to break out the running joke again.

I teach the OCIA class at St. Bartholomew, our church. For this year’s group, I made some pens as…

Thu, 03/28/2024 - 3:28am

I teach the OCIA class at St. Bartholomew, our church. For this year’s group, I made some pens as gifts. The pen blanks are all some sort of unidentified Brazilian hardwood.

The first step in making these pens is to cut the pen blanks into two pieces, and I used my dozuki for that. I forgot that you can’t use Japanese saws on hardwoods, much less tropical species.

Three of Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji →

Tue, 03/26/2024 - 3:28am

Three of Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji →

On the occasion of a complete set of Katsushika Hokusai’s “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” being offered for auction by Christie’s, Joel Moskowitz offers some great information and insights on them, including this tidbit:

The complete set actually consists of 46 prints because Hokusai added 10 prints to the series. If you’re thinking of adding the series to your own walls, bear in mind that Christie’s has set the estimate between 5 to 7 million dollars.

So if I win the lottery, I know what I’ll be shopping for.

Here’s an Asian who rocks. And maybe moonwalks, too.

Fri, 03/22/2024 - 3:08am

Here’s an Asian who rocks. And maybe moonwalks, too.

Happy Friday!