Gateway (60)

Post 60 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.

Rough cutting the door joinery happened with relative rapidity; finish cutting and fitting takes all the time, and as usual, more time than I tend to estimate. I would be getting a bit nervous about such a time sink, given the looming install date for the gate, however I am feeling quite relaxed. Have I found some new way to bring myself to a state of centered calmness? Am I on tranquilizers? Well, not so much. All the snow that has thrown some delays into my process of work these past couple of months has also affected the situation at the Museum. There is so much snow there that, after some discussion, we have decided to push the install date back a week, to the end of March. That’s why I’m breathing easier. I even took Sunday off this past week.

It’s snowing again right now. Supposed to be freezing rain tonight then – and this seems almost unbelievable at this point – temps are supposed to climb above freezing tomorrow.

Back to the fun! Fitting the battens to the hinge stiles was today’s task – here I’ve just fitted batten #1 to the right hand hinge stile:

A closer look:

Closer yet:

These joints take a bit of time to fit, largely because of the two mitered abutments. The rails took even more time as the mitered abutments are present on both sides of the stile.

A view of the intersection with the stile and the top face of the batten:

A tiny piece of wood flaked off by the mortise edge, which will necessitate a small patch later on.

The next batten fitted:



And number 4:


All of the above joints come together a hair better yet when clamped up, as they will be prior to when I assemble for good by driving the wedges into the tenons.

I thought to throw in a couple more pics of joinery details. First, a view of the mortise on the hinge stile for the rail:

And a view of the mortise on the hinge stile for the batten:

That’s the one with the little bit of flake broken off. A bit annoying, but hard to avoid such things from time to time.

That completed the work on both hinge stiles, as the rails were fitted to those parts over the past couple of days. Next task was to fit the rails and battens to the hanging stiles – I started with the right hand door, and after a few hours the mortises were cleaned out and I could check the initial fit at each location:

Probably another hour to go and those will be fitted – though I suspect I am underestimating. The left hand side hanging stile (to the right in the above picture) is 75% done as well, so tomorrow should see me through the door frame part fitting. That will leave the panels, which attach to the battens by way of sliding dovetails, and to the stiles and rails by way being fully housed in a dado. It is the sliding dovetail connections between panels and battens which give this door rigidity and resistance to sagging – without such connections, angled bracing would be necessary.
All for now – see you next time! Post 61 is next.

8 Replies to “Gateway (60)”

  1. Chris,

    Of course you are underestimating. If we estimated correctly, we would never begin such projects.


  2. Funny!

    I think my original overall time estimate was fairly accurate, however the previous project on the two bubinga tables ran about a month longer than expected, which has made the schedule of this build more condensed than it would have been otherwise.


  3. Some crisp joinery, can't wait to see it all come together. You may have already covered this, but is there going to be any kind of finish put on the gates?

  4. Chris,
    Your work is just fantastic. It's hard to believe you can do such accurate work in such temperatures. I gripe about the temperature in my shop when it's 50 degrees couldn't even imagine work in below freezing temps. Keep up the good work and the posts.


  5. Siavosh,

    thanks for the comment and question. Normally, there would be no finish save for that left by the hand plane, however the original gate had some sort of oil finish, and the Museum expects some sort of finish to be applied. I am going to use a product from Gemini Coatings.


  6. Rusty,

    appreciate the props- thanks! It helps to at least have some portable heaters around and to wear a bunch of jackets. Also, there is no wind coming through the walls or windows, and that would certainly make it worse. Really looking forward to some warmer temps soon!


  7. CHRIS;
    Coming together nicely! Estimations are just that. It will be done when finished! Good things come to those who wait. I would gladly wait for your work! Awhsome job as always! Keep em coming! Remember the heat is in the tools!Thanx for all!!

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