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.