Broken River Joinery

Blog Update (lolcats)

I’ve added a link in the top menu to my new Instagram account (@brorivjoinery). It includes some photographs that show up in the blog and a few more that don’t and will provide more day-to-day visual updates all having to do with you guessed it-wood. And because I’m fully aware that cats are way more popular than wood out there on the interweb, here’s a shameless selfie/photobomb with my friend, Oatmeal. That’s Oatmeal’s excited face.




Milling Walnut on March 1st (in the snow)

As we get things dialed in on the chainsaw mill, the cutting is going quite a bit better. Today we milled a 10′ by 18″-20″ diameter black walnut log into 1 1/4″ boards. Minus the two caps we were able to get 8 nice slabs that are now stickered and should be ready by fall of 2016 plus a few months indoors.

It was a good day to cut and when everything is running right and the sun is out, there’s not much better on this land then to be a part of it through good work. Even if the ground is covered in snow on the 1st of March.








Furniture Maker Edward Wohl

Here’s a nice video on Edward Wohl and his workshop in South East Wisconsin. Every year during the SE Wisconsin Fall Arts Tour, Ed opens his shop up to visitors. If you are ever in the area at that time (mid-October), make a point of stopping by. You won’t soon forget the experience. There’s usually fresh, hot cider, too.

Snowshoeing In Iowa

In the end, the best kind of woodworking is found outside the home.


Fo Shizzle

For a different take on woodworking try this for a change

It may take 60-90 seconds or so but it is well worth the wait. I promise.

The Standard Shoji

I finished up my first (really second) attempt at the standard shoji with an aragumi kumiko arrangement and mizugoshi structure as based on the exercises in Des King’s, “Shoji and Kumiko Design Book 1 The basics”. I ended up building only 1 of the two screens as I seriously bungled the first screen several months ago.

The end result was overall a decent product but had its share of issues, most glaring of which involved one of the 45 degree miters on the tsukeko having an embarrassing gap. Beyond that there were slight miscalculations in the size of the rail mortises allowing one upon close inspection to see the tiniest of black spaces.

My next goal is to continue with the exercises and then give the Kasumi-Gumi Shoji a go. This design incorporates a hip board which will give it a nice heft.









Poplar Shoji

At last returning to the world of shoji. After a crazy few months, life is settling back into a much needed routine. With a little work 2015 could be a good year for shoji and kumiko work. Here’s a few pics from the current project using Des King’s 1st printed book.





The Trouble With Birdhouses. And Clotheslines. And Children With Hammers. And Nails.

Trees have a way of bringing the past to life. I learned this multiple times the other day while attempting to slab out an urban black walnut tree around 75 years old.




As we ran the chainsaw mill the length of the lower trunk we hit our first nails which made a slight thunking noise and jolted the saw a bit. I wasn’t particularly surprised-the nails were right at waist and chest height where bird feeders, clotheslines, children with hammers, etc would crop up. We were taking a chance using this tree but it was such a beautiful one and would have been a shame to see it chipped into dust. So we continued and the nails kept coming.

In between breaks of cringing with every nail we hit and spark we saw coming out I mentioned to my friend that my dad had grown up less than a block away from this house and it was not a stretch to imagine him as a kid nailing a bird feeder to this very walnut tree. The past comes back to us in many ways.



On the flip side, after the first 3 slabs the staining, while lovely was diminishing and it appears we hit the worst of it at the beginning. We were able to sharpen the ripping chains ourselves after the first couple runs and finished out 4 large slabs but rather than push the saw too hard we took it in for a tune-up and to get the chains professionally sharpened.

The lower trunk is about 8 1/2 feet long and around 32″ at the widest. We have about 2 more 3″ slabs to cut out of this trunk although part of me is considering cutting one 4″-5″ slab for a solid-top black walnut workbench 3 or 4 years down the road.

Once we get to the upper trunk we will likely move to 2″ thick pieces and then we have the very end of the trunk where the main crotch of the tree sits and that will make for some nice end and coffee tables down the road.

We may take a break from urban lumber for a while, simply due to the metal factor, but it certainly makes for some unique pieces.




Things to do in Iowa in the winter

Procuring some trunks for the promise of furniture many years down the road.IMG_4069



Partial Projects

As I continue to come up with reasons to put off completing the file cabinet which I started over a month ago I’ve been opening the case files of a few other projects not quite finished. Like the shoji screen I’m building for a family member….there seems to be a pattern here.

Anyways, the jaguchi joint where the rail and stile meet is a particularly challenging affair and this particular iteration is the closest I’ve come to getting it right. There is an unsightly gap on the back side which is partially an issue with cleaning out the double mortise and tenon but all around it came out halfway decent. In place of using a Japanese chamfer plane, I used my low-angle block plane and cut the chamfers by eye. Here are the results:






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