Vintage Nakashima

comments (10) October 3rd, 2013 in blogs, videos

sscott Stephen Scott, associate editor
thumbs up 334 users recommend

Elegant Craftsman from George Nakashima Woodworker on Vimeo.

Video Length: 12:21
Produced by: National Geographic

This short film from the mid-1980s highlights furniture master George Nakashima toward the end of his long career. For fans of his work, it is a great opportunity to see his mind at work.

Nakashima died in 1990 at the age of 85. The film was made when Nakashima was 79 and beyond his years of hands-on craftsmanship. But we see him supervising the milling of some hugely impressive walnut slabs, and conferring with the craftsmen working in his shop and building to his specifications. We see the shop at work on a walnut slab table and on one of Nakashima's famous Conoid chairs.

The film, titled Elegant Craftsman, also offers a nice look at the museum and workshop on the family property in Pennsylvania. The interviews with Nakashima and his wife, Marian, about their early years together - including their internment in a WWII camp for Japanese Americans - offer insight into his determination, and to their teamwork.

You can see the work that is continuing at the Nakashima shop by his daughter Mira and others by visiting the shop online at

In the meantime, this is a nice little bit of film, and well worth checking out.

posted in: blogs, videos

Comments (10)

drobertson drobertson writes: @chiefengineer - if you are going to be picky about it Columbus did discover North America, because the West Indies are part of that continent. He did not discover the land mass we refer to as the United States of America.

Outside of those finicky points this was a great video that really brings me back to the slow paced PBS productions of many years ago. I think it is great. Not everything needs to be overhyped to make it have a strong impact. The pacing of this video is perfect for the subject, it works at the pace of nature.
Posted: 2:37 pm on November 25th

MinnesotaBrendon MinnesotaBrendon writes: Wow. Both the measured pace of PBS or NG programming from a simpler age (only 20 years ago!!), and the vision of Nakashima and his druid-ish reverence for the substrate of our craft. Thank you so very much for posting this.
Posted: 9:07 pm on October 13th

user-2926957 user-2926957 writes: He reminds me of my father who was a master craftsman. They had the same thought process in their work. Thats what made them the way they are. Thanks
Posted: 1:56 pm on October 9th

seabear seabear writes: Nakashima's work has been an inspiration to me since first reading articles about him and his family in FWW.

I have been inspired to carefully select wood for different projects. First as a wood turner and then as a chair builder.
Posted: 5:12 pm on October 8th

evanism evanism writes: The price of a slab of walnut like that must be beyond imagining.
Posted: 9:12 am on October 7th

bfarris bfarris writes: A true master craftsman.
Posted: 9:23 am on October 5th

latheman latheman writes: Beautiful..George had a soul that resonated with wood...and the point of the Columbus reference was to age of the tree, I believe...
Posted: 8:25 am on October 5th

chiefengineer chiefengineer writes: Good video. Small picky point. Columbus didn't discover America - he discovered the West Indies and never clapped eyes on the land mass of North America.
Posted: 8:46 pm on October 3rd

ctsjr ctsjr writes: Very nice. Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 4:39 pm on October 3rd

nestcraft nestcraft writes: nice.
Posted: 4:31 pm on October 3rd

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