Gateway (37)

Post 37 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.


Went into the shop today with a definite plan of attack, and accomplished some of what I had hoped to achieve at least. Things sometimes go slightly off course, but in the right general direction.

The idea was to fit the remaining umeki to the main posts, and I managed to get a couple of the smaller pieces in:


Another view:

Those seem to have come out well but I haven’t planed them down flush yet.

Then onto the main beam, or kabuki. There is a secondary beam to be fitted below it, termed the magusa. Here is is in red:

First task was to go over the under surface of the main beam to make sure it was square and straight. There were a few adjustments required, and as I went through I few steps along that track, I realized that it would be a good idea to fit the nose pieces to the beam and check that everything was coming together well before moving much further ahead. That’s where my day plan want sideways, as the fitting of the nose pieces took several hours. Oh well. One step at a time and keep marching.

They came out decently I thought. Here’s the left side on first:

This is the portion of the joint which will be inside of the main post:

The parts in the above picture are oriented upside down at this time.

Then on to fitting the right side nose piece – a view of what will be the upper surface:


It also came out well I felt:

Another view -the surface which will be visible from below:

Another view:

With the two nose pieces in place, I could then assess the entire assembly and plane the surface flat as needed:

A straightedge came in handy to check alignment:

Once the surface was where it needed to be, I could start fitting the magusa. The stick had moved out of square since it had been milled a few weeks back, so it needed a bit of attention, then it was fitted to the kabuki, trying to achieve a gap-free interface.

The kabuki and magusa will be connected to one another using all-wood connections, unlike the lag bolts used in the old gate I am replacing. The joints themselves will be 5 sliding double-hammerhead keys. Normally one might employ double dovetail sliding keys for this, but I prefer the hammerhead keys. And I have tooling for that!

I started out with some layout and then some rough mortising:

Another view, in a bit closer:

Should have these done tomorrow, along with the remaining infill work on the main posts. Hope you’ll stay tuned.

All for today my friends. Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. Next up: post 38

2 thoughts on “Gateway (37)

  1. Dear Chris,

    I am really enjoying this series of posts on the gateway build. I particularly enjoy the addition of the video, I have been curious about how you went about setting up and executing the angled paring cuts but this is much clearer now.

    I noticed that you are using modern adhesives to fix the infill in the kerfs, I was wondering how this task was accomplished traditionally?


  2. Chris,

    thanks for your comment and question. These kerf infills were glued, traditionally. Not sure exactly what sort of glue might have been used 100 years ago, but these days it would invariably be 'bondo', the Japanese term for white aliphatic glue. It's not a good choice really for something out in the weather – indeed, of the patched kerfs on the old gate parts, almost all had failed along one side of the glue line, which of course is a perfect opening for water to wick in.

    I'm very pleased with the PL200 so far – I think it is an ideal solution, easy to apply and clean up, and yes, definitely a modern approach.


Anything to add?