Screen Play – Completion!!

Sometimes it’s hard to believe one has reached a destination, a brief stop along the Way, but here we are. Dazed and confused, maybe a little bruised, perhaps.

29th and final post in this step-by-step account of the design and construction of a Japanese free-standing screen, or tsuitate. Thanks for hanging in there!

It was a longish day today that went quite well all around. At this point, I’m feeling pretty expansive and satisfied with the whole thing now that I can take a break, have a beer and unwind. I think assembling a piece without any glue was part of that, as it dropped the usual stress surrounding that process to zero.

There were a myriad of minor tasks to deal with before assembly. Here’s a partial rundown:

I tested the fit of the pegs in the tenon mortises, and made a couple of minor trims as a result – it never hurts to double-check these sorts of things:

The pins are Bubinga.

I finish-planed the kōshi ita:

And then there was the matter of applying my maker’s mark, which I make in a stylized form of a Chinese Bellflower, kiku, coming out of a pentagonal frame. The pentagon ring is Gabon Ebony, along with the center of the flower, while the petals are Bubinga:

Panning back a few inches, here’s a view of the mark installed into one of the feet – the process of making the flower and installing it took a full day:

One of today’s satisfying moments was driving the pegs home while tie the feet to the sill and frame uprights:

I dip the pegs in vegetable oil to ease their pathway. Once the peg is home, I use a flush-cut saw on the backside to trim it. It comes out looking like this on the outside face:

The other part of the assembly I was looking forward to was the part where I lock together the frame corners. Here’s the start of that process:

Once the miters are together, in go the wedges, tap-tap-tap-tap-ping!:

Fully seated:

Then I trim them:

Then I work the surfaces of both frame members true to one another using various files and chisels:

When it is all cleaned up, on goes the oil – here’s how one corner came out:

If I use the flash, the picture turns out quite differently:

So, that was that. Here’s the tsuitate then, all together at last – first one side:

And then the other side:

Worm’s eye view:

I’ve still got a minor amount of work with a little more finish oiling here and there, maybe another hour of pottering around. Soon enough I’ll get some decent photos taken so I can add it to my portfolio.

Otherwise, that’s it. What’s next?

Thanks for coming by today to see what is what. Your comments are always welcome.

7 thoughts on “Screen Play – Completion!!

  1. G'Day Chris,
    Stunning craftmanship. I am always fascinated to see the wedged, locking mitres in use and the execution looks crisp. Was wondering from a design/aesthetic standpoint if you considered using a light coloured wood for the panel to contrast with the frame pieces and the kooshi?



  2. Thanks you all for your kindly and positive comments!!

    Derek, good question. I considered many possibilities for that panel, and mentioned as such during the build. One material I was keen on for a while was Satinwood, which has long been a popular choice to pair with genuine mahogany. It is hard to find and expensive however. I also considered Osage orange and a couple of others. In the end though, the 'flickering flame' motif was what I wanted to emphasize, and given the curvilinear nature of much of the piece, the idea of adding more contrast may have verged on excess 'busyness', perhaps. Also, this piece was made speculatively, on a tight budget, and I happened to have the piece of Bubinga on hand, a piece with a distinctive figure that not only suited the flame motif but would have been hard to match with additional Bubinga were I to convert it into another piece of furniture. It seemed the best option to go with the Bubinga, especially as I had it on hand.

    I also considered making the kōshi more of a contrast with the other woods, but ended up going happily with the mahogany. Again, that may have been too busy. Over time, too, the mahogany will darken while the Bubinga will keep more nearly to its current color, so their contrast will intensify, I do believe. Time will tell.


Anything to add?