Monday, June 8, 2015


When you study physics, at least in Chile, you learn by doing homework. Real difficult problems that you need to solve before next week. During one semester we (as in the group of friends studying physics) didn't sleep one night, the whole night working and talking about the homework.

It was really intense and after that, everything else seems a bit like vacations. Vacations in hell as in Graz but vacations anyway.

While reading one of these old woodworking books I found the same. Exercises they were called here. First one was to make flat one face of a piece of wood with a chisel. Second, make flat and perpendicular the next face, again with a chisel. Quite fast the book was asking you to make a handrail or a boat... or something like that, really complex exercises.

What stuck me then was the order of the exercises. First of all not the sawing, or the planing, but the chisel. And use the chisel as a plane. I have never tried doing it, flattening a board with a chisel. I should try perhaps.

Anyway, today in the night, since we have a new japanese heater. The cylindrical ones where you can put your kettle and make tea later. I guess it fits my tools. So, having solved the cold problem for today, I decided to try some joinery in my room.

The rules are: no jigs, no knife marks, no rabbet planes. So everything is done, save the squaring, with chisel and hammer.

I want to make some shoji eventually (today we took half of the kitchen's tiles off, it's looking emptier and nicer already). So why not copy Gabe and try some miter tenon joints a la Odate?

Don't look at the rabbet, that was another exercise.

I love the way rauli (Lophozonia alpina) (in my times it was a notophagus btw) cuts. Gives you really crisp surfaces and it's a pleasure to work with.

I don't know if you can see it, but I didn't cut the last part of the tenon, there where the shadow is. I could not figure it out how to do it without a drill and you cannot put a saw in that hole... plus I don't have a bottom cleaning chisel.

If I were to make this for real, I would plane the mitres' end grain with a shooting board, then the sides of the tenon also planed and only use chisels for the inner parts. Faster and more accurate. Also, knife mark the lines and plane to them.

One of my tasks for the first months here is to make a collection of japanese joints, so expect more posts like this one. Maybe we call them one night stand joints?


  1. Have you seen: ? He uses a miter jack and paring slick. Shows his hikouki kanna as well, which I really feel the need for at the moment. When you say you would plane the mitres end grain with a shooting board, would that be like the Japanese mitered blind dovetail?

    Great idea with the technical exercises. Although I studied music and not physics, there was the same etudes that had to be done by next lesson. Looking forward to the next joints!

    1. Yeah, but long time ago... now I feel I also need to make that mitre jack and the hikouki kanna (but with the spring and the bamboo before the mouth to push the wood down).

      There was a video of a japanese guy making a splicing joint, and sawing real fast and then grabbing his rebate plane and finishing the joint. Then I thought, why don't I do that? Because I put the dai of my rebate plane in the trash before moving. I couldn't find the video but found another one that you may find useful, comes from Jason of course

      And yes, exactly, like in the mitred blind dovetail down and a rebate plane on the sides. It took me a while to realise but my tenon is too large and the plane was not fitting there... because I made a mistake.

      Maybe I should try the female part of the joint next time.

      I also have this book

      It's about a box with around 50 different joints. We could organise a "study group" and make one joint a week, that way we could finally put Jason to work instead of playing with his tools.

  2. The fuego video was very helpful! I was familiar with the general concept. But the thin paneling, dado joinery, curved sides, and 5mm front to back taper is so very important. Paneling at that width definitely must be vertical grain. Why the rot-resistant wood though? I love the use of rabbit fur for the piston gasket. Rabbits must have been easy to hunt in Japan, because they used the hide in their glue as well. There are many, many mountain rabbits here but they are safe from hunting until the winter.

    Yes, let us study together, a virtual kesurokai. I have been thinking of practicing the three sided miter, but have plenty of other work at the moment. Perhaps some house timber joints would be appropriate as well with your current work on your home and Jason's humble abode. Let us know how you want to make this work, it would be a great fun.