A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (59)

My last post was on May 28th, and I thought it might be another day of work to complete the matsu-kawa-hishi lattice for the upper sliding doors. Today, being June 3rd, shows my level of underestimation in terms of what it would take to complete the task. These things were endless!

The cut out went well, but it definitely took a while. I stood in front of the milling machine for a full week – or was it more? I’ve lost track of time. Mount the part in the fixture, then left, right, back, forward, demount, next piece is mounted, left, right…..

After all the laps were processed, the next task was trimming the ends – though these in fact have two cuts, my plan was to execute only one cut per end on the mill and save the other cut for later. Here’s one of the cuts being executed:

The stick is indexed in the fixture with a cross piece atop which it laps.

Here I’m trimming the miter in the other direction:

When the chips had settled, I put the parts together and had four complete frames:


A closer look at a pair of frames:

A closer look at one frame:

And a closer look yet:

The connections were clean and the frames lay quite flat after connections were done. Fortune favors the bold perhaps? The plan on paper met the result in practice, so I felt satisfied.

The same lattice atop one of the shedua panels, just for a look-see:

The kumiko are not completely finished, nor are they glued up, but that will happen soon enough. The assemblies came out well I thought. The mill allows for accurate work.

I next have to work on the sliding door frame members, and then work out exactly how I will connect the lattice to the frame. I had one intention initially, but after completing the lattices I now am mulling three alternate approaches to making the connections….

All for this round. Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. Post 60 is next.

15 Replies to “A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (59)”

  1. I spent some time in CAD designing the weave pattern to have as much over/under interlock as possible. The pattern was sufficiently complex that I had to spend some time staring at a sequence of assembly drawings to put the lattice together correctly. The assembly starts in the middle with the two longest pieces lapping each other and weaves together from there, proceeding outward. Once one was together used it as a template for the rest. All the pieces lap joint one another in some way, save for the very smallest ones at the four corners, which simply glue to their neighbors at the miters.


  2. One thing I enjoy about this particular pattern, by the way, is that it forms a continuous line. Start at any one point and follow the kumiko along and you'll see that the weave forms an orbit which travels around like a piece of macrame rope work until returning to origin.

  3. I believe I have been reading your blog since about 2011, and have read much of the prior posts after the fact. I always find myself in constant amazement!

  4. What a Job!..I get dizzy just looking at the photos……..I see the “continuous line” that you speak of in the second, above post…..I could not keep sane if I tried to cut these by hand….Hats off to you (again)

  5. I was noticing that! Kind of reminiscent of Scandinavian knot work, in my opinion. I haven't been able to find any examples of mastu-kawa-hishi kumiko since seeing this post- was it common when you were in Japan or is this a Hall original?


  6. Certainly not anything original to me. While by no means a common lattice pattern, I have seen examples of this type of kumiko work in Japan. There is also a version in which which of the kumiko is doubled up.

  7. It seems like that mill has paid for itself and then some! Really nice work.

    It is interesting how some aspects of machining make certain types of design elements able to be entertained in this modern age. It amazes me that with the horsepower we now have access to (a while ago I was adding up all the horsepower in the machines I've restored and it occurred to me I probably have an entire water-powered mill in a corner of my basement!)… with all the horsepower, design becomes so important. Either these tools will make junk quicker, or they can allow us to create something that will inspire long-term, attentive ownership.

    I can easily see this piece of furniture being around 300 years, having been used by 10 generations of family.

    And who knows how many other pieces of high quality furniture your blog inspires!

    Thanks again for posting.

  8. Jamie,

    Thanks for your comment. I spend time, once in a while, adding up the tonnage I have in my shop, much in the same way perhaps that you added up horsepower. I usually end up telling myself, “oh my god, if I ever have to move it will not be easy!”.

    It's funny that you mention 300 years, as that is the lifespan i am hoping for at a minimum – – of course, one can never predict whether it will be one of the lucky survivors. so many things can happen in a period of time like that.


  9. If it forms a continuous line then I would suggest it could be an ocean plait or some similar rope mat pattern. Effectively you have tied a knot in wood.
    Wonderful work, I really enjoy your dedication to better.

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