Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Fire's Aftermath

I had my two days off right after the fire bending, which was nice given the amount of anxiety I felt leading up to that process.  Glad its over, glad it worked.  Now on to finishing the backbone and turning to the planking.

Visitors have been very generous.  One elderly man gave me an antique square while another sent me three itazu, or plank drawings he gathered from an elderly boatbuilder on the island where he lives.   Only one drawing had complete lines; the other two were missing essential information, not uncommon for a boatbuilder to guard his secrets this way.  And today another visitor sent me a case of beer!  

My bottom plank propped in place.

At its deepest the charred wood goes nearly a 1/2 inch deep.  Its okay because the plank is over two inches thick.  

The seam is right in the center of the photo, running horizontally.  The Gorilla Glue did just fine, helped by the battens we nailed over the seams to protect them from the direct flames.

Looking forward from the stern.

Using Mr. Murakami's methods I have two blocks seven sun tall placed at the stations.  I adjusted the props under the stern until the tops of the blocks line up with the transom line at the stern.

Meanwhile some bamboo fence builders were working around the Museum's teahouse.  One explained how they polish the bamboo with rice hulls in water.  Catherine learned people sometimes polished wooden floors with soybean husks and water.

The Museum's groundskeeper trimmed some bamboo and made whisk brooms.

He also made these lovely bamboo dippers and this long broom.

The Museum's head carpenter invited me to the workshop for a lesson in using the yariganna.  This ancient tool was the precursor to the Japanese plane, which came to Japan later from China (I think he said the plane was introduced six hundred years ago).

I've seen yariganna like the one on the bottom, but never the opposite version, with the cutting bevel facing down.  The temple carpenter agreed these were very rare, but said someone like him had to have both.  He said they were still used when carpenters make repairs on the oldest temples and wish to match the original work.

For demonstrations he has a set of planes from around the world, from left to right: Germany, China, an American Stanley, Germany, China (antique), and Japan.  He was not impressed with the newer Chinese plane nor the Stanley, saying the sole of the latter was nowhere close to being flat.  Later he showed me a Canadian Veritas and said it seemed like a high quality plane.  I agree.

Note the angle.  One can take a little or a lot.  I was surprised to learn one's dominant hand should be at the end of the handle, in this case the right hand.

The yariganna removes a tightly curled shaving.

Here he shows me left-handed.

Note the quality of the wood (hinoki) in all of these photos.

The bottom bevel yariganna is for chamfering the edges of timbers.

The he showed me his jointer plane, called a suridaiganna, which means "sliding body plane" referring to the fact it slides on its side on the bench.  The side is carefully kept square and the work is lifted so the blade is in full contact with the work.  All his tools are in exquisite condition.  I don't know what he must think when he periodically stops by my shop and sees my tools.

Out in the Museum gallery is an example of a bracket timber with the chamfer roughed out with an adze in the foreground and finished with the yariganna in the background.

If you look closely you can see where the chamfers are used in the brackets.

And a view of the full-size timber frame elements on display.


  1. I believe he told me the block of wood he'd set up for the yurigama practice was yellow cedar from Vancouver, Canada

  2. That explains it. It smelled like kaya, or Japanese nutmeg, which I have worked with once before. But he said it definitely wasn't kaya, famous in Japan (and protected, I think) for making Go boards.

  3. Was this yarrigana cutting done on a bench back in the day? Or would the carpenter be set up on the floor?

    1. Probably set up on the floor/ground on very low sawhorses.

  4. Drawn towards the user as opposed to push?

  5. Drawn towards the user as opposed to push?

    1. The yariganna is used on the pull stroke. That is not to say you couldn't push it, but in Japan I am certain that would be frowned upon.


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