the Carpentry Way: Gateway (75)                                                          

Gateway (75)

Post 75 in an ongoing series describing the design and construction of a kabukimon, a type of Japanese gate. This is a project for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Post 1 in this series can be found here if you'd like to start at the beginning. Each post links to the next at the bottom of the page. Recent installments also to be found in the 'Blog archive' index to the right of the page.


Today and tomorrow revolve around doing those tasks associating to fitting the copper work. I need to mark all the various intersections where copper fits to wood, and check that the copper is going to fit, as in just two more days I have to take the copper parts to the powder coating people. I started off this morning by fitting the copper feet to the rear support posts, hikae-bashira. There, the fit was good however the copper sheet a little bit long, so I had the metal fabricator come by and do a little trimming. It's a good thing his shop is just a minute away from mine. It didn't take him too long to scribe and trim and then the lower copper feet were done. A 'tick' off the punch list.

Then I completed the 3 coats of waxy impregnator on the flanking panel section, front and back, and applied the decorative bronze nails to the front of the panel so I could get that piece out of the way. Then I trimmed the nose pieces on the main crossbeam, kabuki, to finished length. Sorry, no pics - I was too preoccupied to think about grabbing the camera.

The next task was to fit the copper cap to the kabuki. The kabuki's upper surface needed to be beveled yet, however before that I needed to check that the door header, magusa, fit the kabuki. Readers may recall that it is connected to the kabuki with a series of five sliding hammerhead keys. I fitted some plugs so the sliding keys were trapped in place on the kabuki. After that, the parts were connected and the magusa persuaded laterally. It didn't take too long to fit; a small sledge hammer was sufficient to drive the parts together:

I was pleased with the interface between the two parts - no gaps and the inside surfaces are flush to one another.

Then to check that the end grain surfaces meet properly at each end - here's one:

And here's the other:

A view of the under surface of the kabuki with the magusa fitted, showing the close clearance for one of the long rod tenon's locking pins, shachi-sen:

Then on to processing the bevels on the upper surface of the beam, which I did with my 380mm Makita circular saw. Here's cut one:

I kept the cut a couple of mm away from the line - I find cuts like this, where most of the saw base is unsupported during the cut because of the blade tilt, tends to intensify my focus on the task.

Saw cuts complete, I took the bevel surfaces close to the line with a 155mm power plane:

The bevels were then finished off by hand. It seemed like a good time for a video (and I hope you like repetitive planing!):

After the planing was done, I checked the fit of the copper cap:

Looks like it fits fine. The next step is to fit the kabuki to the main posts so that I can scribe the copper ends onto the post faces. Likewise, the nose pieces will be fitted as well so that I can scribe their copper caps to the posts' outer faces. Those copper parts should be ready for pickup by tomorrow morning.

Without further ado, I moved the large bandsaw and the planer out of the way so I could start assembling the kabuki to the main posts. It was the only open area of floor space I could use, and I still might have to move more equipment out of the way yet - we'll see.

By the end of the day, I had one connection 99% together:

A look at the tenon exiting the post:

These joints were cut out three months ago and the fit remains close. That's the advantage to using dried timber instead of green, and having fairly consistent relative humidity in the past few months. Still, I'm thinking that it would have perhaps been better to make the doors first and then do the large timbers last - well, should another timber project like this come along, then I'll have such considerations to bring forward into that.

Hope to complete fitting of the kabuki, main posts, and two nose pieces tomorrow. Then the main doors get fitted to that assembly. Going to be some heavy lifting ahead!

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way, comments always welcome. Go to post 76 if you're feeling brave.