Nice snippet of the initial construction of a Japanese Tea House. This is part of the Kesurokai Project.
With the jagumi finished, I moved on to the 4 long diagonal pieces, the 16 hinge pieces and the 8 locking pieces. In total there are 34 individual pieces in this entire Asa-no-ha pattern.
The diagonal pieces are straight-forward. 45 degree angles on both ends, sized to fit.
Here are the two hinge pieces and the locking piece. I cut all the blanks and then shaved this first set down to act as a guide for the length of the remaining pieces. In the end I always sided on just a bit longer and then trimmed each piece to fit. The angles on the single locking piece are 45 degrees.
The hinge pieces are more challenging. Each has one end with two 22.5 degree angles and one end with two 67.5 degree angles. The trick with the 67.5 degree angles is to have one angle about 1/3 the width of the hinge piece and the other angle 2/3 the width. This takes some trial and error to get just right and I’m definitely in the trial and error stage myself. One hint is to size the 2/3 width side to match the length of the corresponding 45 degree angles on the locking piece. Confused yet?
Here’s the rest of the blanks ready to be trimmed into hinges and locking pieces.
Trimming the 22.5 degree angles to fit.
And all put back together again. A couple of things I learned on this second try: whatever the plane used to trim the pieces, keep the blade as sharp as possible. Trimming the 45 and 67.5 degree angles isn’t so bad, but at least with this Alaskan Yellow Cedar, the 22.5 degree angles are prone to tear out. Better to take light passes rather than apply too much pressure to the wood. In other words let the plane blade do the cutting; also, as I mentioned before, make sure the jagumi mortises are cut to just the right width, otherwise unsightly gaps appear; and lastly, make sure that all the strips of wood used to make the blanks are precisely the same width and thickness throughout. Even a slight variation in thickness for example from one side to other, even as little at .5mm makes a difference in how everything fits together.
My theory right now is that the only way to get things just right, if that is ever truly possible, is to keep practicing and making mistakes so that I can correct the next time.
To build the base for my next asa-no-ha pattern I’m using Alaskan Yellow Cedar. I acquired a few three foot boards, about 3″ wide and 3/4″ thick which I ran through the power planer to just over 5/16″ thick. From there I ripped several 1/4″ wide strips to use for the pattern.
For the jagumi, I cross-cut six pieces, each approximately 5 1/4″ long. I then used a block plane to get them all exactly to the same depth/thickness.
As you can see, I did not saw all the way down to the horizontal layout line. That was not intentional, I was being cautious so as to not over-cut and I was more focused on cutting straight lines.
So I went back to each cut line and very carefully cut down to the layout line. To not do this would ensure that when removing the waste, there would be tear-out which would be obvious in the final piece.
The jagumi complete, the next step will be to cut, shape, and insert the four diagonal cross pieces. This will further divide the four squares into eight triangles.
As work continues on the Yakushiji Buddhist monastery in Nara, Japan (in Japanese), a new edition of Azby Brown’s work on Japanese carpentry will be released in Jan. ’14. The restoration work is slated to be completed in 2030 and this new edition contains updates on that progress. You can pre-order it now.
Well, it’s been 2 years since I began this blog and to keep things fresh, I’ve changed the look of things a bit.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be making some minor tweaks to make the new version more user-friendly so please bear with me.
Thanks to everyone who’s visited and commented and liked. It’s been great motivation to keep going. You guys are the greatest!
A break from the shoji project was in order-here is my first attempt at the asa-no-ha pattern, aka the hemp leaf pattern.
I definitely had a few gaps-this is my first time shaving 22.5, 67.5, and 45 degree angles in very tiny pieces of wood. I fear I got a case of the kumiko thumb…but as I practice and make more of these (read Christmas presents) I should improve my accuracy. Coming up with a consistent work flow helps to standardized the pieces. I really enjoyed working on this-it creates a rather unique piece-one with room to improve. And I plan on repeating this pattern for quite a while before moving on to anything more complex out of Des King’s shoji books.
The frame is from a scrap of bird’s eye maple I picked up for $1.00 on a road trip to Wisconsin a few weeks back on a visit to Edward Wohl’s woodworking shop. That gentleman makes some incredible furniture. But that’s another story.
In learning how to build basic shoji via Des King’s “Shoji & Kumiko Design: Book 1″, I took the time to work on some of the exercises but was more excited to begin building the actual shoji.
To wit: I should have practiced more. Especially with the “Jaguchi” joint where the rail joins the stile. Here is my first attempt at that rather complex joinery.
It’s pretty obvious from the photos that the main issue came from the actual jaguchi joint itself. Quick summary: it sucked. My first mistake (besides not adequately practicing beforehand) was in cutting the 45 angle. The jaguchi jig slipped, my cut ate into the angle and removed wood where it should not have and my chamfer was off by about 1 mm. I also could have done a better job of cleaning up the tenons and mortises.
I had a lot of difficulty cutting the mortise to begin with. I tried it by hand. This is challenging on a good day. My future remedy will be to take out the majority of the waste with a forstner bit and then use the hollow chisel mortiser to square it up and then pare it out with my bench chisels. This will go for the tsukeko and kumiko mortises as well.
For the tenons, the sawing was straightforward and not an issue. Cleaning out the waste demands sharp chisels, especially the area by the jaguchi. Again, room for improvement.
At this rate, I have 3 more jaguchi joints to cut for this side of the shoji screen, which at this point is a practice screen. That’s OK. It’s really all practice. And once I finish this half of the shoji pair, I’ll go back and actually work on my skills with some practice jaguchi joints.
Lesson for the day: Once past the frustration of screwing up, learning from mistakes is the best way to learn.