21st and 28th July 2015 – Woodworking in Japan

I made some arrangements to do some Edo sashimono style box making classes at Mokko Kukan Rin rental wood shop (http://www.mokko-kukan-rin.com or http://www.facebook.com/mokkokukanrin) located at Tokyo in Chiba prefecture Funabashi city, Takanedai.

My instructor was the owner of the rental wood shop Miyazu-san. They had other projects you could build, however the sashimono box was ideal as it was something that was small enough to take back home easily and the build involved using more hand tools.

Miyazu-san is a woodworker that uses both power tools and hand tools, but he is very knowledgable about hand tools and was able to answer all my questions on using them correctly.

DSC00947.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

The box I made was part of the “Lets make it together (isshou ni tsukurou)” one on one classes which costed 10,000 yen (about $110AU~) for the entire 3 days. So it was very cheap considering most of the work was done by hand tools.

DSC03956.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

I believe that the build is considered basic woodworking techniques, but for people new to hand woodworking and especially Japanese tools, it is a good introduction to accurate measuring and the correct usage of various hand tools.

Below are a number of hand tools I worked with:

  • Japanese chisels (Nomi)
  • Detail saw (Doutsuki nokogiri)
  • Japanese planes and hammer (Kanna and Gennou)
  • Japanese corner plane (Mentori kanna)
  • Square, ruler & caliper
  • Japanese marking knife (Shiragaki)
  • Japanese marking gauge (Kebiki)

Below are some images of the tools I used:
Japanese plane
DSC03936.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

Marking gauge
DSC03934.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

Corner plane
DSC00961.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

Detail saw and measuring tools
DSC03945.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

Miyazu-san was very patient and he was able to demonstrate each step of the process in the box building and how to adjust and use all of the tools. The class did need some knowledge of Japanese language which I do have, however he mentioned he has taught other foreigners before by demonstration without too many issues.

I have to admit I didn’t take a lot of photos of the classes as I was quite busy working on the box, but the photo below is an example of my work halfway through the build.

DSC03933.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

We did end up using a trimmer router in a router table for one part of the build which was to make some grooves for the bottom of the box to hold the box bottom and also to cut the box lid from the base of the box.

He also advised me the best place to buy Japanese tools in Tokyo which is a shop called Naohei in Hachoubori (also in Tokyo). He made a list of essential tool and this store was able to supply all of the Japanese tools I needed.

DSC04687.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

Naohei is a store for professional woodworkers and seems to be one of the must visit places for many Japanese woodworkers.

From my first impressions of it, I couldn’t tell what kind of store it was. It didn’t look like a woodworking store and there was no indication of it from the outside.

The store is very small and cramped. The woodworking tools are hidden in the back. You should ask for “Mokkou dougu” to be directed to them. It is best if you ask them for what you are looking for using Japanese names or give them a list so they can dig them out for you.

From googling about the store later on, some Japanese woodworkers do state that they do have some expensive handmade tools too. Unfortunately the store does not have an online shop.

DSC04690.JPG by raptor_tk, on Flickr

They also accepted credit card payment for those planning on a shopping spree there.

I was able to walk out with all my Japanese tools shopping done at one place. I wish I could go back there to buy more tools!

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