From an upcoming documentary on hand-made homes from one dozen American artists including George Nakashima among others:
The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, –
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat — the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.
—from “Renascence” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
My initial response to Kees van der Heiden & Wilbur Pan’s Chipbreaker: Theory & Use article in the April 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking: “Hey, that’s a really fascinating article”.
My second amazing insight: “I have officially crossed over to the world of Woodworking Geekdom”. It’s a lovely place to be.
I’ve applied glue to the exterior kumiko frame and to the exterior Cherry frame and clamped it up. I used gentle clamping pressure, just enough to bring everything together. In past experience with gluing mitered frames, my 45 degree angles were never quite right so I compensated with increased clamping pressure. This invariably resulted in frustration. With these corners my accuracy was significantly better, i.e. less need for strong clamping and less colorful metaphors. I also used four of the small clamps to assist in setting the kumiko frame adjacent to the exterior frame.
As you can see from the following image, there are some gaps. I’m not as bothered by them as I would normally be-this piece leaves plenty of room for error. The biggest gap/error is about 1/16″ – 1/32″. Were this a piece for anyone but myself, it wouldn’t be acceptable. None-the-less in learning how to build this transom, I’ve accepted that parts of it would not be perfect. The main challenge has instead been understanding how the myriad pieces relate to one another and assemble to create the whole.
And now that the kumiko and frame have been assembled, I added the diagonal pieces of the three asanoha patterns. This is probably my favorite part of the process. For these 12 pieces I had to create the 45 degree angles on each end and then plane my way up to get a precise fit. It takes patience but gets a little quicker with practice.
After re-cutting the short vertical kumiko, I dug out the mortises in the external cherry frame that will house the longer horizontal and vertical kumiko tenons, including the tenons from the kumiko frame itself.
I decided to build a simple external frame, rather than the somewhat complex frame as illustrated in Odate’s book (Outer Frame With Mitered Box Mortise-And-Tenon Joint)-when I build my next transom, I’ll tackle that.
I then dry fit the entire transom together and with a few minor adjustments, everything came together as well as could be expected. In a sense this initial project is really a 3-D mock-up. I don’t want to call it a practice piece, but in effect, it is.
My next steps before gluing will be to remove any measurement marks and chamfer the inner edge of the cherry frame. Once that is complete, I will begin work on the three asa-no-ha patterns. “After assembling the kumiko, put in the hemp leaf pattern”, pg 65 from Making Shoji by Odate.
Just a quick update on transom progress…I’ve mortised the kumiko frame and added the half-blind mortises to the two long, interior horizontal pieces. The 24 short pieces will need to be redone-my tenons were too sloppy. And my tenons on the long vertical pieces were also off by a bit in places, creating a gap between them and the kumiko frame. And so I will adjust the cuts on those which means I’ll have to trim the vertical pieces of the kumiko frame and outer frame to match the slight adjustment in overall height. But on a positive note, the lap joints in the “jagumi” part of the transom are rather tight, and consistently so which is an improvement over the last Asa-no-ha pattern I made.