Gateway (31)

Post 31 in an ongoing series describing the design and construction of a kabukimon, a type of Japanese gate. This is a project for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


Today it was -2˚C (28˚F) in the shop. I found that after pounding on a chisel for 10 minutes or so I would warm up quite adequately. All the metal that I touch though is damn cold, so I’m thankful that the saws, planes and chisels all have wooden parts to hold. I huddled near portable space heaters when I could and just kept moving without pause. Seemed to work out okay.

Not a lot of pics today. It was one of those days where you just hammer away at things and not a lot seems to change, so there seemed few junctures where taking the camera out seemed worthwhile.

I mortised the main posts for the pockets which accept the nuts connecting to the threaded rods going down into the foundation. The mortises are more than 6.5″ deep, and the post is too wide in this axis to accept my portable hollow chisel mortiser, so I drilled out and then chopped the holes. I could use a couple of ana-ya nomi, which are chisels with extra long necks designed for deep mortising – well, they can go on the ‘wish list’ I guess. Maybe I should order them soon. The blacksmiths I like all have lengthy waiting times to produce tools.

Running up the post from the base are 1.375″ diameter holes for the threaded rod connections. Yesterday I did some filling in the stress relief kerfs low down on the posts. One of them was good to go, however the other one wasn’t quite satisfactory, so I mortised and fitted in a plug right in the middle:

With some epoxy mixed I also decided to attend to a crack – hence the clamps and tape in the above view.

The other post was doable, so I – to shorten the story a bit – took my best aim and drilled away:

Here I am not elaborating upon the various details that went into setting up to drill an accurately centered hole which traveled straight up the post without significant deviation. It is important to get this right, so I took several steps to ensure it came out as planned.

The length of hole was only 12.5″, so while I wasn’t expecting things to go to far astray, there was a certain nervousness all the same. Things came out okay:

Those mortises are deep and cramped. I will do some checking to make sure I can get a nut onto the threaded rod within the space I’ve made.

The triple flute auger leaves quite smooth bore walls:

Thinking that the above picture would have been better if I put a flashlight in the mortise. Oh well – next time.

The remainder of the afternoon was occupied by cleaning the shoulders of the principal tenons on the kabuki, and cleaning up around the stub tenons. Here I’m checking the slot mortise with a go/no stick:

My goal was to be able to fit the main posts, the kabuki, and the nose pieces together tomorrow, however I still need to attend to filling in the sewari on the kabuki‘s tenons. That needs to be done before i can finish trimming them to dimension. I would have done it today but I ran out of masking tape. It looks like Friday will be fitting day. There remains a bit of clean up with the joinery, trimming, etc., and the top of the kabuki has yet to be beveled. Should be able to get that stuff done tomorrow.

The main posts are done save for that one bore hole, and the 4 mortises for the stretchers. Thinking that by week’s end I will have the main posts and crossbeam more or less completed, save for final planing and some remaining kerf filling. Goal is to have the structural framing complete by the end of the month, Feb 7th at the latest. The MFA has also asked me to make some commemorative plaques – 100 to 300 pieces, so I have a bit of extra on the plate.

All for today. Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. Up next: Post 32

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