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This online lecture is intended for students who are new to the world of Japanese handplanes (Kanna).  

Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying a Japanese plane or maybe you already have one and need a little help getting it in full working order.  Well, this is the class for you! From buying and setting up a new plane to using it to create a mirror smooth surface, Andrew will cover all the basics.  

He will introduce students to a wide variety of different planes with many uses, from rough work to smoothing and joinery.  He will also discuss and demonstrate the many ways he uses Kanna in his own shop as a furniture maker. 

So, if you have been thinking about diving into the magical world of Japanese planes, wait no longer, this reduced price class is the perfect opportunity to jump in!

2-day class

Day 1: Focuses on preparing the blade and chip breaker utilizing the technique of ura-dashi. Ura-dashi, also known as tapping out, allows us to form the back of the plane and chip breaker flat. This is followed by detailed step by step of sharpening by hand, without fixtures, using water stones.

Day 2: Covers the process of bedding the blade followed by installing the chip breaker and tuning the dai sole for finish planing.

Have your own plane and tools ready–you can ask questions during the class.

Tearout is a fact of life when using hand planes. In this class, you will learn how to manage and eliminate tearout when using hand planes. 

Topics covered include:

  • how to select and read a board to minimize tearout
  • how to set up and use a chipbreaker and why that works
  • techniques to use when planing a board.

Although this class is centered around Japanese planes, using these techniques with western planes will be discussed as well.

To enjoy the class, you will need your workbench, a board to practice on, and a plane (Japanese or western) with a blade that is well-sharpened.

Basic Joinery Techniques

In this class Dale will lead students through layout and cutting of Japanese post and beam construction joints starting with basic square-pinned Mortise and Tenon. Both entirely hand cutting and pre-drilling methods will be covered. Students are welcome to follow along with their own tools and wood stock:

  • Two short pieces of minimum 2.5″ up to 6″ square material are recommended.
  • At least one chisel 1/2″ size for small stock, 3/4″ for 3 1/2″ stock, or 1″ size for 4 1/2″ and larger stock. Also, other sizes will be useful, if available.
  • A 240mm to 300mm rip or ryoba saw and a 210mm to 240mm dozuki, crosscut or ryoba saw.

The knowledge gained from this course will be readily adaptable to any scale of project. Please join us for two hours of working with wood as it’s done in Japan.

This class will provide students with a basic understanding of how to prepare boards by hand using hand planes. This foundational skill set will feature the use of winding sticks, comparative measuring tools and scribes to joint, thickness and edge boards by hand.

Please have prepared a long and short hand plane, marking gauge, winding sticks and a straight edge. In addition you will need a setup for planing (planing beam or bench) which is stable and sturdy. Please also make certain that your planes are sharp and ready for work and please choose a board which is at least 6-7″ wide, 24″ long and of material that is easy to work with featuring mild grain.

Good woodworking starts with sharp tools.  In this Zoom class Andrew will discuss and demonstrate what it takes to get sharp. 

Starting with the basics, he will lay out the fundamentals of blade sharpening.  Naturally, the focus of the class will be on sharpening Japanese tools with water stones, but western tools and methods will also be touched on.  

With so many sharpening stones on the market it can be overwhelming deciding which stones to use.  Andrew will discuss what to look for when buying new stones and cover the unique qualities of each type.  No, he won’t tell you which stone you should buy, but he will give you all the information you need to make an educated decision yourself.  

He will not only share his personal sharpening routine, he will also discuss a variety of options ranging in experience levels –  from sharpening guides to natural Japanese stones Andrew will cover all the bases. 

With a limit of only 15 students there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.  Whether you are just starting out or you are a seasoned pro there is always opportunity for improvement, so please join in!

Learn to layout and cut mortise and tenon joint by hand using a saw and chisels. The basic mortise and tenon joint is the foundational joint of all woodworking, it can be made by hand using simple tools.

Please have a Japanese saw for crosscut and rip cut, a bench or mortise chisel 1/2″ in width, a kebiki marking gauge, measuring tool, knife and a square.

Learn to setup Japanese chisels; includes preparation of the blade, handle and hoop.

Tools recommended for class:

  • Half round file or a flat file and a round file
  • Pencil
  • Spare chisel
  • Hammer and anvil or heavy block of wood
  • Hoop installation device (not required)
  • A way to remove the hoop, either a socket or round piece of wood
  • Fine sharpening stone
  • Diamond plate or a way to flatten the stone

How to make the traditional miniature planes used by Japanese shokunin for shaping and smoothing .

In this class I will demonstrate how to make the small Japanese-style finger planes, sometimes called chibbi-kanna. Relatively quick to make they are invaluable for shaping, fairing, and smoothing both curved and small restricted flat surfaces found on furniture, musical instruments, carvings, architectural details, spoons and bowls.  While the information is also useful for making full size planes as the techniques are similar, I will cover some lesser known techniques involved in making the small planes.”

The class will cover selection of materials for the dai, blade selection and cutting, laying out and cutting the dai, fitting the blade, and tuning the plane.  The particular plane made will be one with a slightly convex blade with a straight sole for producing broadly sweeping concave surfaces.

  • Basics of getting started in the space you have
  • Ongoing discussions of selected topics and demos helpful for seeing how little is really needed for work to begin
  • Prepping tools
    • setting chisel hoops
    • sharpening set ups
    • lay out procedures
    • resawing (your own) lumber with ryoba expanding the use of 5 reductive processes in joinery work

Classes will be interactive

  • selective topics
  • demonstrations
  • homework is given thru each demo each class
  • homework is inspected at start of next class
  • time for questions, corrections, and encouragement

Classes given by Jay van Arsdale assisted by Jason Forster

Hands on class

Interested in using a Japanese saw, but don’t know where to start? This class is for you. In this class, you’ll learn why Japanese saws are a great option for hand saws, what makes them work so well, the types of Japanese saws, and practical ways to use them in your workshop.

This class is intended for any woodworker interested in Japanese saws. You don’t have to use Japanese tools, and you don’t have to be a hand tool woodworker to benefit from this class. There will be many demonstrations, and plenty of opportunity for questions and answers.

Personal Thoughts on Hands-On Practice

BRIEFING ON THE RECEDING HORIZON…simple ideas to give your multi-source learning a more positive, practical structure:  showing personal aspects of hands-on practice, organizing principles of work flow, and some new tricks from an old dog.  

Fundamentals of Cutting Wood with a Japanese Plane

In this interactive class Andrew will discuss in detail the fundamentals of cutting wood with a Japanese plane. 

Together, you will investigate the many varying properties of wood and how best to tune your plane for a controlled cut. 

The effect of bedding angles, bevel angles and chip breakers will be covered in detail, as well as many of the other principles involved in creating a beautiful handplane finish.

Techniques for Fine Tuning Your Plane

Hands-on class

This interactive class is for students who already use Japanese planes, but want to take their understanding to the next level.  Andrew will discuss and demonstrate the techniques for getting the most out of your plane in any wood. 

He will cover the process of fine tuning a plane for Kezurou-kai shaving competitions, as well as practical applications for dealing with difficult grain. 

Blade sharpening, dai tuning and body mechanics will all be covered in detail, so grab your planes and join along! 

Traditional Japanese Hand Tools

Hands-on class

FOUNDATIONS OF JOINERY CULTURE …tapping into the enduring value of traditional Japanese hand tools… tools designed and used to make wood into more than it is:  sashigane, sumitsubo, sumisashi, toishi, hammer and chisels, ryoba.

Just the basics–discuss use, cost, metal types and production methods, efficient layout strategies.  Demonstration and discussion. 

Not sure how to get started in Japanese woodworking? Having trouble with your Kanna?  Want to talk sharpening stones?  Well, ask the experts!  Andrew Hunter and Sayuri Suzuki will team up to host a live zoom Question and Answer class.  So, whatever your questions, Japanese woodworking related of course, join us for an informative conversation.  Even if you don’t have specific questions yourself there will be much to learn just by listening in.  

Suzuki, owner of Suzuki-ya, has been selling Japanese tools and building relationships with craftspeople in America for the past 24 years.  There are few people with her level of expertise.  And with her close relationships to tool makers in Japan, she has a unique perspective on how the tools should be used.

Andrew is a professional furniture maker and educator living in New York’s Hudson Valley.  He has been using Japanese hand tools to create heirloom furniture for over 20 year and is very enthusiastic to share his knowledge.

Learn to set up Japanese chisels; includes preparation of the blade, handle and hoop.

Situational Joinery

 These web workshops will explore some of the adaptations of basic joinery elements which can be made in specific situations – structural and aesthetic.

  • discussion, demos, and examples will show the wide diversity in more creative solutions.
  • home work will be assigned from each session’s examples, these should be completed before next session. We will evaluate your work in a positive learning process.
  • all sessions are to be taken as a complete series.

Two classes: mortise & tenon / bridle corner door joinery / corner structural joinery

Two classes: unusual  dovetails

Two classes: splicing joinery – simple to complex – decorative and structural

Classical Chinese Furniture

Classical Chinese furniture is one of my favorite topics. I could talk Chinese furniture for hours, so please join me in this interactive zoom class where I’ll be doing exactly that.

Furniture in China reached a pinnacle of craftsmanship and style in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties. Graceful design, superlative material and fine craftsmanship are defining elements of this style. This lecture-based class will begin with an introduction to furniture making in China and the history that led to this refinement. We will also investigate the influence classical Chinese furniture has had on modern furniture designs. But most importantly, we will study together the intricate joinery that held it together for all these years!

An Apprentice Boatbuilder in Japan

In this two-hour talk Douglas Brooks, a boatbuilder, writer and researcher and author of five books on traditional Japanese boatbuilding, will give an overview of the craft, drawn from his nine apprenticeships with Japanese boatbuilders. He will begin with a slide talk discussing the design and construction of a wide variety of Japanese boats, and then discuss the unique pedagogy of the apprentice system which has sustained the craft for generations. He will end by talking about his efforts to maintain the craft in the face of enormous social changes in Japan, which has seen a steady loss of traditional craftspeople.

Douglas Brooks lives in Vergennes, Vermont and is the author of Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding, which describes his first five apprenticeships in Japan and is the only survey of the craft published. He has been building boats professionally for over thirty years and has been studying Japanese boatbuilding since 1996, working alongside craftspeople in order to document their design secrets and techniques. He teaches workshops on Japanese boatbuilding and is a regular contributor to magazines in the US, UK, and Japan.

Dai Cutting

In this class Josh will demonstrate how to cut a dai, the wooden block of a kanna. Along with a full demo, Josh will describe all the considerations one should make when going down the road of cutting your own dai. All students should walk away with the necessary knowledge and practical techniques to cut a dai, including specialty dai, like nakin-ganna, shi-ho-zori, along with many others.

Advanced Sharpening

Discussion and practice of sharpening techniques, in addition to natural and synthetic sharpening stones.

Please bring course, medium, and fine sharpening stones and a tool to sharpen.

Japanese tools in a Western workshop: Shop Tour and Q&A

Sometimes people think that if you want to use Japanese tools, you have to sit on the floor. Join Wilbur Pan as he takes you on a tour of his shop and shows how you can use Japanese tools in a typical hobbyist workshop. There will be plenty of time for Q&A, and questions on any aspect of woodworking with Japanese tools (and others) are welcome.

Sawhorse Series

Designing and constructing a set of sawhorses is an excellent project for woodworkers that is not only an opportunity to practice cutting joinery, but also increases their capacity to do more and better work once the project is done.

In this series of three classes Jason will demonstrate every stage of the construction of a pair of sawhorses built with Japanese joinery techniques and hand tools. Students are encouraged to build their own set of sawhorses and utilize this opportunity to work alongside an experienced carpenter. Topics to be covered include material selection, stock preparation, joinery selection, layout, cutout, and assembly. An emphasis will be placed on optimizing saw horse design for Japanese woodworking.

If you plan to work alongside Jason during this class, please procure the wood for your sawhorses as soon as possible to allow the wood to acclimate to your working environment and be the most stable in the long run. Kiln dried material is ideal if it is available at your lumber yard. Feel free to make sawhorses of your own design, but Jason will be making a set of sawhorses based on this article.

In addition to wood, students will need at least two chisels (3/8″ and 3/4″ would be a good set), a hammer, a 240 mm ryoba, a handplane, and a square.

Dimension Lumber by Hand

Learning to dimension lumber by hand is a most fundamental skill, right up there with sharpening! In this live, beginner level zoom class Andrew will take you through the steps to flatten, square and smooth any sized board. He will demonstrate the process with three Japanese hand planes, a rough, a jointer and a smoother and will describe how each is tuned differently depending on the task. Even if you use western planes the principals Andrew will demonstrate are universal. He will show you how to use winding sticks to judge flatness, give you tips for reading the grain and will demonstrate the planing process in a variety of wood species and figure. This is going to be a great class, so sign up to watch the shavings fly!

Please note that this is a lecture-based class. Tools are not required, and instead students are encouraged to observe and ask questions. 

Kanna Setup

In this live zoom class Andrew will walk you through the steps for bringing a new Japanese hand plane into full working order.

To start he will give recommendations to beginners for purchasing their first plane, as well as suggestions for refurbishing an older one. Andrew will then take students through each step in tuning up a new 54mm Yamamato block plane. He will demonstrate how to prepare the blade, including tapping out and flattening the blade back. He will also show the fitting of the blade to its pre-cut block and offer tips for getting a snug fit. Chip breakers will be discussed briefly with descriptions on how to tune and fit one to your plane. Andrew will demonstrate a number of techniques for profiling the sole of the plane and will wrap up by covering the body mechanics of cutting on the pull stroke.

There is a lot to cover in 2-3 hours, so Andrew is not expecting students to follow along with their own plane; rather he is hoping for plenty of questions and a thoughtful discussion. A video of the session will be available to all attendees for two weeks following the class.

Dovetail Joinery

In this class Dale will lead students through layout and cutting of a Housed Beam Dovetail. Both entirely hand cutting and pre-drilling methods will be covered. Students are welcome to follow along with their own tools and wood stock:

  • Material: Two short pieces (minimum 2.5″ up to 6″ thick) of material are recommended
  • At least one chisel (1/2″ size for small stock, 3/4″ for 3 1/2″ stock, or 1″ size for 4 1/2″ and larger stock). Also, other sizes will be useful, if available
  • A 240mm to 270mm ryoba saw and a 210mm to 240mm dozuki, crosscut or ryoba saw

The knowledge gained from this course will be readily adaptable to any scale of project. Please join us for two hours of working with wood as it’s done in Japan.

Note: This is the second in a series on Japanese post and beam construction joints. The third class in June will cover splice joints. Each can be joined separately.

SHOP TOUR and Tool Talk

Let’s talk tools! Join me for a tour of my shop, where we can take a brief look at some of my projects and the shop’s setup, and then spend time comparing Japanese, Chinese, and Western style hand tools. I have an extensive collection to show you.

In particular, we’ll look at and compare Japanese bench planes, with a closer look at the less well-known Japanese joinery planes: rabbet, side rabbet, moving fillister, chamfer, plough and dado, and shaping planes. We can discuss important differences between Japanese and Western saws (there’s more to it than just cutting on the pull!), with important tips on sharpening Japanese saws. Benches, vices, and holding devices, including shooting boards, will also be discussed, plus demonstrating a knockdown Japanese-style bench that I use on site and in the shop. As this will be mostly a question and answer seminar, any topic related to Japanese tools can be discussed, as time will allow.

A professional woodworker for over 50 years, I have used Japanese planes and tools for more than 45 of those years. I have since written 5 books on hand planes, with one focused solely on Japanese planes, and a second which includes an in-depth look at Japanese joinery planes as part of an overview of joinery planes in general. I currently use over 65 Japanese planes, including bench, shaping and joinery planes, all purchased or made one at a time as needed over the years.

Advanced Kanna Tuning

In this class Andrew will go beyond the basics of tuning up a new plane. A sequel to his last kanna class, this online presentation will take an even closer look at fully utilizing your Japanese plane.

He will begin by demonstrating how to set up a new chipbreaker and give tips on how to get the most out of this somewhat complicated yet rewarding accessory. He will also delve more deeply into the shaping of the blade for optimal performance. This will include demonstrations of ura-dashi or “tapping out” of a blade. He will also cover some advanced sharpening techniques and will give suggestions for how to deal with the most difficult grains.

As a special bonus Andrew will share with the class the 12 inch wide kanna left to Kezurou-kai USA by master Japanese craftsman Fumiyoshi Yamamoto. This wide plane, or ooganna, is a sight to see and an inspiration for those of us who are reaching for the horizon of perfection.

Practical Sharpening

The foundation for safe, pleasurable and accurate woodwork is effective sharpening. In this class, David will approach the subject of sharpening from a practical and professional perspective, one that both experienced and amateur woodworkers can benefit from. This angle focuses on how to reliably create truly sharp edges on both chisels and plane blades, in a reasonable amount of time, so you can get back to work.

He will lead participants through his recommended sharpening process for Japanese-style plane blades and wide and narrow bench and paring chisels, using waterstones and simple hand pressure. The principles involved in this approach are optimized for Japanese-style tools but can definitely apply to Western-style blades. He will discuss the benefits and downsides of different styles of stones and will address the many pitfalls that can be frustrating in the search for a sharp edge.

Recommended tool list: grab your stones, a bin full of water, and any blades you’d like to sharpen. David recommends having at least a ~1000 grit waterstone, a 4000+ grit waterstone, a plane blade and a chisel for the class to be the most useful, but feel free to join no matter your setup.

Basic Construction Joinery Techniques – Splice (Scarf) Joint

In this class Dale will lead students through layout and cutting of a Beam Splice. We’ll use only hand tools. Students are welcome to follow along with their own tools and wood stock:

  • Material: Two short pieces of equal dimension (about 2′ long or one 4′ long, a minimum of 2.5″ up to 5″ thick) is recommended
  • At least two chisels: One 12mm size (9mm for small stock) and one wide chisel (36 ~ 48mm). An intermediate size and any others you have can be useful
  • A 240mm to 270mm ryoba saw and a 210mm to 240mm dozuki, crosscut or ryoba saw
  • A hand plane for surface flattening will be useful

The knowledge gained from this course will be readily adaptable to any scale of project. Please join us for two hours of working with wood as it’s done in Japan.

Note: This is the third in a series on Japanese post and beam construction joints.

Layout: tools and techniques, old and new

This online workshop will cover ideas and procedures to help ensure easier, more accurate and efficient layouts. Use and preparation of sumitsubo, sumisashi, sashigane, inks, pens, and other more modern implements will be addressed. This is the most basic, fundamental starting point for joinery construction.

Please note: this will be a 3 hour online workshop

Lanterns: Design & Build. Joinery structure with shoji panels.

Join Jay van Arsdale and Jason Forster for this 4-day, in-person workshop at Jay’s shop in Oakland, CA. You will design and build your own lantern structure with shoji panels.

Bring your own lunch and tools.

Please note: this workshop will be held in person at Jay’s shop in Oakland, CA. Exact location will be given to attendees after signing up. 

*Attendees must be vaccinated and wearing a mask

Ura Dashi: Restoring Land to the Ura

Ura Dashi is known in the West as “tapping out”. This is a unique skill required of those using laminated kanna blades. This online workshop will present clear ideas with straight-forward demonstrations of techniques for a more successful and efficient process. More subtle properties of laminated steels will also be addressed.

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