Gateway (XVIII)

Well, after months of chewing on stone, so to speak, I now turn to gorging on butter – AKA, Port Orford Cedar. I am a little in shock about how easy it is to work. It seems as if my chisels will almost fall through it as they slice, needing little more than their own weight. Ahh…….

In case you are new here, or have forgotten what this post series is about since it has been a while since I updated this thread, I’m building a Japanese gate – a type termed a kabukimon – for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The above sketch is several months old now and there have been numerous slight revisions here and there.

A bird’s eye view of the structure from the garden side:

Yes, some readers may be surprised to find that the Carpentry Way sometimes does actually concern carpentry once in a while! Hah! Keeping you on your toes or what?

So, I’m going to be getting a boom box with today’s classic rock, sunglasses which double as eye pro, full Occidental leather pouch with shoulder harness, Blaklader pants with foam knee inserts, a Dewalt contractor saw, a pancake compressor and a couple of Senco nailers, a whole bunch of extension cords, ladders, and probably an F-150 with aluminum racks and a Knaap site tool storage box. Okay, well, maybe not. I can dream can’t I?

Just being a goofball – pay it no mind.

Currently working on refining the drawing details for the various joinery connections, and ordering the hardware for the doors. All the hardware is bronze, and some is custom made. Working out the orders for those items has taken a considerable about of back and forth with my supplier in Japan, who has been extremely helpful throughout.

Part of this project involves a small kiosk which was located to the side of the gate in front of the garden wall. The kiosk has a pent roof and held a sign board detailing the initial installation of the garden and gate in 1987:

The kiosk, like the main gate, suffered from poor design detailing in critical areas, and, to be blunt, less than the best construction practice. The lower posts had rotted out. This, despite a copper roof overhead. That’s what you get when you put wood into a mild steel plate sandwich and stick it directly into the soil.

My scope of work for the kiosk involves repair work and a small amount of reconfiguration. I’m splicing new post lowers onto the existing posts, and I’ll also be replacing the cross member just visible in the above photo at the bottom of the sign board. As this structure is supported only on two posts, the system of using metal shoes will have to be utilized again, however I have completely redesigned it to get the posts out of the soil altogether, and the ‘shoes’ will be fabricated out of stainless steel with stainless fasteners attaching them to the wood. this set up should prove to last much longer and will look much the same as the original. A local company will be handling the stainless fabrication.

Here I’ve started rough cutting the kanawa-tsugi splice joints on the two replacement posts:

The kiosk reclines on its back and I’ve trimmed the posts back to good wood, cleaning up the end grain, and cut out the cross-member, which was secured in place (like most of the construction in the old gate) with rusted metal threaded rods:

Boxed-heart timbers were used almost everywhere on the old construction. I will use no boxed-heart timber at all.

While working on the kiosk, I’ve been milling stock for the various gate components – here’s a glimpse of some of the sticks:


Back to the kiosk:

Today I got a bit further along in roughing out these splices. Here, I’ve cut the lower step of the splice and am chopping out a bit more waste:

It’s nice to make use of my timber chisels – it’s been a while.

On the other one, the same remnant chunk was sawn and the waste split out:

Roughing out the stub tenon groove:

Two posts now at about the same stage:

Just rough work at this point. I’ll deck the surfaces tomorrow and complete the stub tenon grooving, and then will do the same procedure on the kiosk posts and see if the parts can be properly introduced. It should be fun.

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way. On to post 19.

4 Replies to “Gateway (XVIII)”

  1. I now happen to be working my way the first time through book III. Will you explain your reasons for choosing this particular joint for a vertical splice in this situation? Does the boxed heart timber in the original play a factor?

  2. Mitchell,

    The boxed heart is irrelevant to the choice of splice. The kiosk stands only upon 2 legs with no other supports, so I need to use a splice which is quite strong. There are a few options to be sure, and for rot-repair splicing, kanawa tsugi is a fairly standard choice so I see no reason to employ something else in this case.


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