Articles

An Interview with Dale Brotherton

OWNER AND OPERATOR OF TAKUMI COMPANY (Seattle, WA), DALE BROTHERTON, began working in this field in 1978. He spent 61⁄2 years in traditional full time apprenticeship with a well known teahouse carpenter in the San Francisco Bay Area. This apprenticeship was dedicated to concentrated practice with tra- ditional hand tools and learning refined joinery methods. Dale then spent 2 years as a “journeyman” in traditional residential construction in Nagano-Ken, Japan expanding his skills, studying traditional building design and structural layout. With nearly 9 years of intense study accomplished, Dale returned to the USA founding TAKUMI COMPANY. Since then he has remained committed to the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship completing over 100 projects for private customers, institutions and municipalities. Read More …

Roji Tea Garden—A Short Description

…A contemplative garden landscape which invites the guests to experience a tranquil and purposely self-absorbed but silent process. Guests arrive at the tea garden by first walking through a forest on a steep mountain trail, and after some minutes arriving at a quiet landing in the forest surrounded by tall bamboo and a soft green pelt of moss-covered earth, punctuated by water-worn stones and handcrafted bamboo fences. The whole effect of the tea garden is designed to put the guest in a state of tranquility. Read More …

Sharpening and the Japanese Hand Plane – In Depth

When planing, consider the shape of the piece of wood being worked on and realize that every stroke is reshaping it. If it is flat and you want it to remain flat, then the planing must be even from end to end and edge to edge, with each path slightly overlapped and overhanging each edge of the board at the start and the finish.  Read More …

El Cerrito – Kezuroukai USA 2023

The end of September was moist and warm in El Cerrito, California. Trucks rolled into the El Cerrito Community Center early Saturday morning and loads of folks were ready to manhandle their cargo of heavy redwood logs fresh from the peeler. Other volunteers helped to carry the heavy blacksmiths’ anvil to its station. Read More …

Heisei Yariganna Thinking (#5)

The yariganna is a rather difficult tool for the beginners to use, and the sharpening requires some different practices compared to sharpening other woodworking blades. There are two types of yariganna: one with a curved sharpening face that was resurrected in the Showa Era (~1926 to 1989), and the other with a straight edge developed by Kezurou-kai Japan. I’ll show you my way of sharpening both of these blades. Read More …

Evolution of the Kezurou Contest in Japan

The planing competitions put on by Kezuroukai USA are about improving our skills as woodworkers. Competitors are not competing against each other, as much as they are competing against themselves. There are so many small factors that add up to getting a Kanna to perform at it’s best, and it takes dedication to master these skills. Having a way to gage your progress is very helpful. A thin shaving can tell you everything you need to know about the state of your tool. A blade that can cut a clean 10 micron shaving has no scratch in its edge deeper than 10 microns. Even the size of the throat opening and the flatness of the sole can all be judged in a shaving. Read More …

No Secrets

“NO SECRETS, just how much –pay attention…’’ Imai-san The challenge and hope of improvement comes with many tangents. Finding focus helps to establish approachable and appropriate practicality. Connecting the elementary dots of practice creates a working framework, a conceptual platform for performing tasks that lead to solutions-not absolute answers. Read More …

TAPPED OUT – Short note on a helpful idea

My short talk/demo about URA DASHI [at the Kezurou-kai USA 2017 event in October] was basically showing what was needed to be able to produce more ‘land’ at the front edge of the backside, ura, of plane blades and chisels. This process is not what ‘tapping out’ sounds like, maybe an incorrect translation. This is not done on western single steel blades, so maybe that’s where the confusion comes from. It is not possible to tap out the hollow grind on the ura side of the blade to establish more land near the cutting edge of the blade. This area is worn away by the repeated sharpening of the blade. Read More …

3,000 Ri* in Search of a Blacksmith

Mori-gii (old Mr. Mori) of Awaji. It was the early 1980’s when a children’s song called ‘A Blacksmith of the Village’, which begins with “Sound of pounding never stops and scattered sparks…”, disappeared gradually from the elementary school textbook. That’s because children can’t imagine the scene anymore. It has been more than 30 years since, so it can’t be helped now. Yet it is unfortunate that the knowledge and the technique were lost without passing them down to today. Read More …

Serendipity

When Makoto Imai came to the U.S.in the early 1970’s, he brought with him the extensive training he had received in Japan. When he arrived, he was part of a crew that was reconstructing a meditation hall in Northern California. He had started his carpentry training in the Gifu Prefecture/Takayama area as a high school student working on the early morning crew. After a few successful years, the moved down the river to Kyoto area where he completed training in the Ura Senke tea construction tradition. Read More …
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