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Japanese plane set up demonstration by Hiroshi Sakaguchi at #kezUSA
A model of joinery used in a Chinese temple at #kezUSA
Jay Van Arsdale reviewing shoji and kumiko construction techniques at #kezUSA
Matt Connorton speaking on applying traditional woodworking skills to modern day Woodworking at #kezUSA
Andrew Hunter teaching about Chinese furniture construction techniques at #kezUSA
Dai Ona on engineering aspects of joinery in the Asian and western traditions at #kezUSA
Mike Laine discussing the building of the Green Gulch Zen Center bell tower at #kezUSA
Preparing for the planing contest tomorrow at #kezUSA
Yann Giguere talking about wood movement and how to work with it at #kezUSA
Andrew Hunter holding court at #kezUSA
Richard Wiborg on Chinese temple construction. #kezUSA
John Burt teaching about the properties of Japanese laminated edge tools. #kezUSA
Jay Van Arsdale teaching on how to tap out a Japanese plane blade. #kezUSA
Opening of #kezUSA. So happy I’m able to make it out here.
Look what just dropped, as the kids say.
This past summer I had the great good fortune to spend a weekend in Frank Klausz’s shop filming videos on Japanese woodworking tools for Popular Woodworking. Yesterday a package arrived with some of the first copies of the DVD version. Although the original plan was to make four half hour segments, it turned out to be almost three full hours of video covering Japanese chisels (and hammers), saws, and planes, and an overview of why Japanese tools have the properties that they do that I called, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Japanese Tools But Were Afraid To Ask”. (Apparently that title was too long.)
Going into this project, I wanted this to be high quality, knowing the high bar for videos that Marc Spagnuolo, Shannon Rogers, Matt Cremona, and yes, Fine Woodworking have set. I can say that the production quality was beyond what I expected. David Thiel and Aaron Allen did a terrific job shooting the video, and I know from personal experience that it is hard getting good shots of shiny metal tools, which they were able to do. David and Aaron also did a great job helping me work through my first real video shoot.
Here’s what you’ll find in these videos. I’m going on the assumption that the viewer is an average woodworker, with a typical workshop, looking to incorporate Japanese chisels, saws, and planes into their workflow. You don’t have to be a full-on Japanese woodworker to enjoy using these tools.
I also try to demystify Japanese woodworking tools. For the tool segments, I take a practical approach to the use and set up of these tools. The more esoteric stuff is saved for the “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Japanese Tools But Were Afraid To Ask” section, but I like to think I provide a straightforward, practical explanation as to why Japanese tools can be sharpened to such a fine degree while also having such excellent edge retention, among other things.
Anyway, I hope you like the videos half as much as I enjoyed making them.
I recently finished a joint stool, made from read oak that was originally split from a log, following the method shown in Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee’s terrific book, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree. The dimensions are modified because this joint stool will be serving as a footstool for one of our chairs.
A joint stool is a traditional western woodworking project, and doesn’t have an equivalent in Japanese woodworking either as a commonly used piece of furniture, or in terms of the method of construction. Despite this, I made this completely with Japanese tools, except for the part where I drilled holes for the dowels for the drawbored mortise and tenon joints, and for the dowels that attach the top board to the base. There is a slight nod to George Nakashima, as the stretchers have a live edge on the bottom side, I maintained the sapwood on the top, and the decoration on the legs certainly are not in the period style for this type of furniture piece.
My viewpoint on the Japanese woodworking tool world has always been on the side of looking for similarities between Japanese and western woodworking tools, as opposed to focusing on the differences. As with the Bible box I made some years past, I think this project illustrates this point quite nicely. I like to think that this is a good example of how, despite visible differences between groups, there are many more similarities than differences. In these times, that’s a good lesson to keep in mind.
And I’d like to point out that, yes, this project was made with hardwood.
Have you posted anything about Higonokami knives in the past? If not, would you be able to provide any information about them and where someone can purchase them? I'm looking to buy one with a black handle and of good quality and am not sure where to...
Those knives look very cool, but unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to try them out as of yet.
Hello, I am wondering if I could get some chisel advice. I have some japanese style chisels that I received from my grandfather. One of them is over 40 years old and very rusted with a chipped edge and a beat up hollow back. The hoop is askew and the...
The hoop and handle can be fixed. I’d take the hoop off first. Then take the handle off. This can be done by grabbing the blade end of the chisel and hitting the handle on a hard (not too hard) surface, like a scrap piece of walnut or cherry. Fix the crack with some glue, and put the handle back on the chisel. Trim off the hoop end of the handle so that it is round and symmetric. Then fit the hoop on like you would for a new chisel.
As far as the back goes, I like using either some 80 grit sandpaper glued to a flat reference surface or a diamond plate for flattening the back of a chisel. It can be done, it just takes time. Then use the sandpaper or diamond plate to work the bevel side to get rid of the nicks. After that, you can use your favorite sharpening routine to polish up the back and bevel.
Hi Wilbur, is there an equivalent japanese tool for the western panel saws, rip cuts and crosscuts? Thank you!
I’d use a larger ryoba, either a 270mm or a 300mm, for the type of cut one would use a panel saw for. Kataba of the same size could also be used, but ryoba are far more common.
I ordered some japanese tansu handles and had a question about mounting them. What is the traditional method of mounting these handles? It comes with this U-shaped piece of metal that's used to pin the handles against the "draw front". Do you just...
As far as I know, the traditional method of attaching handles and other hardware onto a tansu is using square shank nails. From their description, it sounds like they would be similar to traditional cut nails.
The U-shaped piece of metal seems like a more modern method. It’s hard for me to get an idea of what you mean by splaying out the ends without a picture, but it’s probably similar to the method of clenching a nail, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do that.