Greensboro, NC, US

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Japanese Chisel Tuneup - Part 3

The final installment of a three part series on tuning up a new Japanese bench chisel. Learn how to set the hoop and peen over the end of the handle on a oire-nomi.

Japanese Chisel Tuneup - Part 2

In part two of a three-part series on tuning up Japanese chisels, learn tips on back-flattening and sharpening.

Japanese Chisel Tuneup - Part 1

Some techniques for tuning up Japanese bench chisels in this three-part series.

Cutting and Fitting a Blind Finger Joint

A recent project allows for some funky experimentation with mitered finger joints.

Used Japanese Tools

Recently I received a box full of used Japanese carpentry tools from my Aikido teacher in Japan. In this post I list the tools by their Japanese names and describe their basic functions. I also discuss how I cleaned up of the 30 mm carpenter's chisel. I plan to cover the rehabilitation of other tools in future posts.

Building a Cherry TV Cabinet - Part III

In the final installment of this 3-part series, it's time to glue the case up, fit the doors, and apply a finish

Building a Cherry TV Cabinet with Hand Tools - Part II

This post covers in detail how I created the half blind dovetails that join the cabinet sides to the top. Below are ample photos and discussion of the process from laying out to sawing, chiseling and final fitting of the joints.

Building a Cherry TV Cabinet with Hand Tools - Part I

Learn what's involved in building a Cherry entertainment center using Japanese handplanes for super-smooth stock preparation in part one of a three-part blog series

Recent comments


Nice slabs curves and mix of materials, and yes the staircase is awesome, Thanks for sharing your work.

Re: Cutting and Fitting a Blind Finger Joint

Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit and Use by Toshio Odate is one of the few comprehensive English language texts on the subject. This work is replete with clear descriptions of a wide range of tools, from marking to sharpening including tangible information on their set-up and use. Woven into the text is a rich narrative of personal experiences as an apprentice and in later life, which illuminate the values and spirit of the shokunin, approach to their work and respect for the tools.


Re: Cutting and Fitting a Blind Finger Joint

Although nothing presented here needs to be exclusively done with Japanese tools, probably 95% of my hand tools are. The last 5% is just a matter of time, well and money.

A kibiki is a marking gauge that is equipped with a small marking knife for scoring the line. A ryoba is a two bladed saw. One edge is set with rip teeth and the other crosscut teeth. Nomi are chisels. Hiraganna are smoothing planes. Typical or standard Japanese smoothing planes are 70mm. I like the feel of 65mm kanna. In hardwoods opting for narrower planes make the pulling of shavings a bit easier.

As far as saws are concerned there are several considerations. For saws other than replaceable blade types, blade length corresponds to teeth size. With replaceable blade saws most manufacturers offer several blade configurations for their main saw lengths.

If you are interested in learning more, Toshio Odate has a comprehensive book on the topic.

Re: Building a Cherry TV Cabinet with Hand Tools - Part II

I appreciate the proof reading. I would agree there were a few too many typo's.

As far as the cost and values of various tools is concerned. Everyone needs to determine what works best for themselves. I am drawn to use Japanese tools for a variety of reasons. As a professional artisan I am inspired to strive to work to the best of my abilities when using a fine hand made tool. Beyond that I like the idea of supporting craftsmen that still make tools in much the same way as they have for ages.

Japanese tools are available in a wide variety of qualities and prices. Many production made tools, especially replaceable blade saws, function just fine. On the other end of the spectrum are tools that are highly valued because the maker is renowned and or retired. However, as is true of many things, the price of most Japanese woodworking tools is driven by quality which includes the quality of steel, skill of the blacksmith and sophistication of design and execution.

Re: Building a Cherry TV Cabinet with Hand Tools - Part I

Good Point on the title, I do build using a combinations of machines and hand tools. However in this posting I am only covering the hand tool processes.


I don't worry about grit from my drum sander. I by a good grade of belts and after a little use they don't seem to leave much behind. Besides after the initial planing passes the wood is cleaned up.

Re: Behold, the Speed Tenon

Normally I create tenons with a dado head on a table saw fitted with a sliding table. However I have used the featured method occasionally to make a tenon or two that got left out of a batch run. BUT tenoning often has to happen on many parts and sometimes on a larger more cumbersome piece than is shown in video. If this method is widely used hands will slip and fingers will be lost.

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