Thursday, March 24, 2016

Now in Kobe, Japan

We arrived in Kobe Monday and went straight to the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum, where I will be building a boat in a special exhibition over the next six weeks.  The museum is new,   replacing their former facility.  My next blog post will probably be an extensive tour of the museum, because it should be a Mecca for anyone interested in woodworking who gets to Japan.

The only other time I've been to Kobe was 15 years ago, and all we did was visit the old tool museum.  When I heard they were building a new one I thought, "How can they top what they had?"  Now I know.
We were invited to a volunteers' dinner event our first evening.  This is the exhibition space which will have artifacts related to Japanese boatbuilding.

A temporary site was constructed for me to work just outside the exhibition.

My lumber.  The cedar log on the left was soaking in seawater for the last ten years before being milled six months ago.  The widest planks are three feet wide at the butt and they are thirty feet long. Mostly clear material.  On the right is a hinoki log, a foot wide at the butt and about twenty-five feet long.

You get an idea on the quality of the materials.

Some of my hinoki cut up for beams, stem, etc.

Kobe is a large, modern city squeezed between a famous harbor and the mountains.  A fifteen minute walk from our downtown apartment gets us to this waterfall.

This week I have been lofting the boat full-size on paper.  Japanese boatbuilders don't do this but its a big help for me to have full-size patterns to check angles, etc.  Here I am getting creative with props to hold my batten.

First step is to chose material for the bottom plank, which will be three pieces edge-nailed together.

I lay my side pieces on top such that I can arrange the material and get rid of as much sapwood as possible.  I was able to just get the bottom out of one plank, cutting the center section and then ripping the remainder in half.  The two short pieces were just long enough to cover the material I needed for the sides of the bottom.  Obviously I have enough wood for probably three boats but looking at such material it seems criminal to waste any.  I've been told the museum's volunteers, who operate a fabulous workshop for visitors, are eagerly eyeing any leftover.  They will have plenty.

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