The first introductory workshop in Japanese joinery was held this past weekend - well, Saturday through Monday, and I thought I'd share a few images. I set up a couple of workbenches, and all of the participants seemed to enjoy working at them.
Me - I like my sawhorse of course as a work bench and did most of the demonstrating on that. I made the joints along with the students.
I briefly showed some sharpening techniques, which I normally do on the floor, and while one participant tried it later on for a couple of minutes, it appeared that there was not going to be a sudden conversion over to working on the floor. Sometimes I wonder how much of a barrier it is for Westerners to Japanese woodworking - the preference for working on the floor I mean? Of course, sharpening (and other wood work) can be done in other positions than sitting or kneeling, but there are certain advantages lost by standing. Chief among them intimacy with the work. And of course, if you're not used to squatting and kneeling, then it will feel awkward and even painful in short order. We are a civilization that spends huge amounts of time sitting in chairs, and the Japanese themselves are heading in that direction. Maybe Japanese woodworking would be an ideal fit for people who play catcher in baseball?
The participants came from as far afield as Indiana and Brooklyn, NY, and seemed to enjoy themselves. One participant allowed later that they thought I was going to be intense and severe, and were pleasantly surprised to find I am not. Me? Intense? Severe? Now, how did that impression come across I wonder? Is that what I convey?
Yah sure, intense I can be, but, well, I don't think I'm all that severe now that my 20's and 30's are well behind me :^) I only screamed once or twice during the entire course (just kidding).
Unlike previous workshops I have taught, I decided not to overload everyone with information and workload and to not push them to try and complete everything in a massive hurry (all because I had, in the past, unreasonable ideas about what could get done). This time I opted to let the students drive the pace more. I came ready to teach 3 joints per day and the completion rate ended up being 1 joint per day, and that was fine.
Here's the other Chris looking deep in thought:
Raphael diggin' into the material:
Here's Kane with the product of the second day in the course, a mitered half lap and a post joining on top with a stepped tenon:
Matt working on a tenon:
Chris looking to saw to the line:
Day 3 involved the construction of a joint called tōshi chigai hozo-zashi hana-sen shiguchi, a pair of crossing beams with half lap tenons and crosswise wedging attached to a post:
Chris using his homemade plane:
And Raphael refining the fit with one of the half tenons:
I'm looking forward to the 5-day joinery class coming up in August. It was a pleasure meeting Chris, Kane, Raphael and Matt this past weekend and I wish them well in their journey and hopefully we'll cross paths again.