Gateway (35)

Post 35 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. Post 1 in this series can be found here if you’d like to start at the beginning. Each post links to the next at the bottom of the page.

Today the weather warmed into the 40’s (˚F), and brought with it a lot of rain, which made the streets into ice rinks. The hardest part was getting to and from the car. Anyway, made it to the shop for a few hours of blundering about.

I started by cleaning up yesterday’s infill work on the under-surface of the kabuki. When done, it came out pretty well I thought:

A couple of photos looking directly down at the infill:


The color gives it away a little more in the pic directly above.

An end grain view of the umeki:

That pretty much wraps up the work on that beam, save for trimming the tenons to length, cleaning up the end walls of the slot mortises, and cutting the trenches for the shachi-sen to be fitted later.

Then I moved on to completing the mortising work on the main posts for the stretchers, or nuki as they are termed in Japanese. The drilling was followed by some chop out and then paring. I tried a bit more filming to see how it would go:

The chisels were a notch below optimal sharpness, but they did the job. My sharpening stuff is at home while the weather has been so cold and the shop sort of like an ice fortress. Reminded me to take the chisels back with me at the end of the day.

All for now, thanks for dropping by. Post 36 is up next.

6 thoughts on “Gateway (35)

  1. If a picture is worth a thousand words, your videos are definitely worth a million. It certainly clarifies your paring techniques.
    When working with this size of joinery, what level of tolerance are you looking for when creating your joints as compared to smaller pieces such as the recently completed 'square deal' tables?
    Also, at this stage in your smaller pieces you typically leave the mortices under-size and tenons over-sized for fine tuning just before final assembly. When working with pieces this large it doesn't facilitate many trial fit-ups. Are you paring to final dimension at this stage with these large pieces?

  2. Brian,

    thanks for your comment and questions. As for tolerance, I strive to hit the numbers as accurately as I can, regardless. Thus, there is no difference in tolerance in terms of cut out. in terms of fitting however, there is a difference as POC is not only a lot softer but more elastic than the hardwoods I have been working with. So, there is room there for grain compression that doesn't exist to nearly the same degree as with harder woods. If a couple of pieces to be joined were slightly misaligned, one could rely more upon the elasticity of the material to accommodate that than one would with a material that was more rigid. Still, i strive to get the alignments as good as I can, and in the fitting allow for a bit more interference between the parts, relying upon a certain amount of grain 'squish' that isn't there with woods like wenge, ebony and bubinga.

    When I have two parts to fit, I typically will cut one of those parts to the line and leave the other fat slightly. Then, when it is time for a trial fit, I adjust the over-sized part to fit the one which is to the line. Until some pieces are finish planed, you don't have final dimension to work with anyhow, and fitting the part before it is finish planed, and then planing it later, will likely mean a slightly loose fit.


  3. Great video! Just what I was after, seeing your technique at work … havent even heard of dipping the chisel (now i am showing my ignorance) in … water? Why, for what purpose?
    A notch below? Haha, I would kill for that performance 😉
    Excellent, keep up the good work!

  4. Petri,

    glad you liked the video and thanks for the comment and questions.

    The chisel is dipped in camellia oil, it helps lubricate the cut for a cleaner slice.

    Seriously, those chisels, while not dull, needed a sharpening. I can tell by the amount of force needed to pare and chop. I wanted to try a little video experiment, so decided to use them anyway. Did the job, just barely.


Anything to add?