Monday, July 6, 2015

Joint No3 and some pictures from Mark

So, this time I start early to have plenty of time to do the joint and not get depressed or stressed.

I did use my electric band saw for cutting the wood. But it was a left over from something else (double glass windows in my room, now I don't need the scarf inside it) so I consider it fair.

(I'm digging my bandsaw btw. I still need to visit the machine workshop of the university to fix a few things in the guides but boy it cuts nicely. Once I finish the guides I put pictures of it.)

So, this is the joint:

Start by your key. Why? Because as I don't have a sashigane I cannot layout with it, so I need a reference. 

There I'm shooting the key with a 30 euros shooting board I found in the supermarket. 

The two pieces go downstairs to be morticed.

 Oh, sorry, first I mark one using the other. I checked that the key was roughly in the centre. Do you see something weird with the drawing?

Enters the saw, I cut far from the line because I want to pare it to it

then I cut the the tenon (for the key, I took 5 times the length of the dovetail, 12mm and this is the length of the tenon.)

Ok, by then I had to mortice, first I made a thin mortice that was the exit of the dovetail and then enlarged half of it. Maybe it's easier to make two mortices, one thin that will become the dovetail and one thick, that's the one for the tenon, using 2 chisel. I had a bit of trouble cutting the interface between the tenon mortice an the dovetail part.

When I was here, I discovered my first mistake. The key was more than half the thickness of the piece, thus my tenon mortice had to be enlarged. Make the key smaller than half the thickness of your timber.

And there is the second mistake:

the wedge is opening the joint instead of closing it.

Well, for a first timer, nicht so schlecht, as Julia's father would say.

Conclusions: the dovetail mortice is easier than what I thought but the wedge is more difficult than what I believed. Maybe the key needs to be 6 times the dovetail?

The nice thing of this joint is that you can make several keys in case you fuck it up.

Now, Mark's pictures.

What me, I think I need to make everything is in this pictures (is that floor scrub planed or adzed?) and have at least 90% of the hammers.

And to end, something else from Mark that's not a picture but a beautiful image nonetheless.

Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake  your chains to the earth like dew,
Which in sleep have fallen upon you.
Ye are many, they are few.


  1. That mistake with the wedge direction! Man, I have the feeling I would have done that...Will you repair it and cut a new key or start over anew?

    Those photos from Mark are truly stellar. I did not even know that such things as the oblique peens existed. Do you think most of them are wrought iron with welded steel faces? Will you be forging some hammers?

    1. I was just looking at it again, and I just need to move the corner of the mortice in 2 closer to 1 and make a new key. I planed a long piece of wood for several keys, I had the impression the first one was not going to be the last one.

      No idea about the hammers... and I'm going to Valparaiso next week to meet some people who have a stone workshop there. They also want to add metal and wood. If so, definitely the forge will be there and I'll make some hammers, I hope the stonemason is good at hammering. When, though, is the question.

      "The last 2 in A are diagonal cross peen (used for twist), the large from Robert Meadow ('88); small made by Harrelson Stanley, I was told."

  2. Hi Sebastian,
    your return to the homeland looks really fruitfull and full of good energy!
    About the tracing of the joints, I think you should line all the woods, specially if you work with not so square timber; and you should trace all the joints starting from that centerline. Lining allows the carpenter to visualise two perpendicular planes inside any piece of timber. Here is a link to a french compagnon carpenter where he explains the process of lining: "" This is a very important technic to master as it allows you to work with timber which is not squared or crooked or twisted, this is one of the base of japanese and french carpentry.

    1. François!

      thanks a lot. It could not be in a better moment. In 2 weeks I'm going to Valparaiso to build a big structure and the timber is precisely not square, so I need to make fast my sumitsubo to start working from the centre line. I got the silk line at least. Hopefully we finish before I go back to europe to pick up Julia in September.

      I really like the compagnon that you linked, I have one of his saw horses open in one tab and wanted to make that since before coming here, but sadly no time for it yet.

      Being here has been nice, I'm learning a lot and realising my planning from europe was not really suited for the situation here. I should have brought more sharpening stones and fewer kanna for example. And I really have far too many saws. I'm also too used to work in a office so the change to working with my hands all day is slower than what I would like. But well, step by step, and as you say, there is good energy around, you can make things happen.