Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lectures and Demonstrations

Since getting home from Japan I have been on a road a fair bit, first to Rockford, Illinois and the Anderson Japanese Garden.  I built this boat. for the garden two years ago.  I was invited back to speak in their summer lecture series.  Tim Gruner, their horticulturist, suggested I also lead a demonstration of Japanese boatbuilding techniques before my talk.  These are all Tim's photos.

After Rockford I traveled to Connecticut for the WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport.  I did the same talk/demo combination.

My goal was to give participants an overview of how Japanese boatbuilders fit planking with handsaws and then edge-nail planks together, both techniques unknown in the West.

I had just a pair of eight foot planks that I propped in place.

We had about twenty people crammed into the Garden's maintenance shop for the demo.

Here I am pounding the plank edges after fitting with the saws.  Readers of this blog will recognize all these techniques.  Note how the low sawhorses, which have a slot in the middle for the saw blade to pass through when fitting, become vises holding the plank with a wedge.

The tsubanomi or chisels for piloting nail holes.

My boatbuilding saws, plus a model one of my teachers gave me.  At both my demos I mentioned that I may be able to source these saws from a saw shop in Kyoto (one I have written about several times in this blog).  Thus far thirteen people have said they'd like to buy one of these saws.  If any readers here are interested please email me at  These are all rip saws and the back curving to a tip is a shape unique to boatbuilding.

A selection of Japanese boat fastenings, including bamboo nails, wooden dovetail keys, iron and copper nails, and a large staple.

Chiseling the mortise for the nail.

For a very quick demo the fit of the seam isn't bad.  On the left is a nail mortise plugged and trimmed flush.  If you would like to host a demo or lecture about my work please get in touch.  If you are part of a Vermont non-profit you can apply to the Vermont Humanities Council's Speaker's Bureau for an honorarium to bring me to make a presentation.


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