the Carpentry Way: Gateway (76)                                                          

Gateway (76)

Post 76 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.


The last two days have been a continuation of the push to complete all the mark out and fitting associated to the copper parts, so that I could get them in for powder coating in time. Today especially was go-go-go, like some sort of race.

To that end, the kabuki/magusa assembly was joined to the main posts, a tight squeeze in my shop but do-able. A 1-ton ratchet strap and a 1-ton come-along were sufficiently persuasive to draw the parts together, with additional coaxing, I might add, coming in the form of a 15-lb. sledgehammer.:

The joints drew up fairly well-  here's the right hand side post, inside face intersection:

And the left hand side:

The left hand side joint is a hair open in the above view - though the photo doesn't show that especially well - and I will need to flatten the post face a little bit with the plane and then all should be tickety-boo. The point of assembling the main posts and cross-members was to check the fits of the joints and to mark out the points where the sheet copper top on the beam meets the post faces. I was pleased to see that the front face joint lines are nice and tight.

I decided not to assemble to nose pieces onto this assembly. I have already fit them onto the kabuki, and am fairly sure they will go through the post. I was concerned that if I put the works together then I might have difficulty getting one side apart again. The joints are snug and there is a fair amount of surface area involved, so I judged that it was better not to risk things getting stuck when it isn't absolutely necessary. I'll do an assembly of the nose pieces onto the post tomorrow to check those fits.

Speaking of the nose pieces, I fitted the copper onto those:

A view from the side-  this copper work consists of four parts, one wraps around the timber, two are clips for the top, one is the slightly pyramidal end grain cover, and then there is the top panel, which overhangs slightly on three sides:

The main cap portion is let into the post's side and underside faces with a dado.

Here is a look at those two aforementioned clips - these will be nailed onto the timber:

Some surfaces will also be receiving a layer of ice and water shield.

While the main frame was assembled, I also fitted the main doors so I could be sure they fit and then could mark out for the hinges. These hinges are quite tricky to fit:

The lower hinge pin slightly interferes with the copper sheet foot, however there is an escutcheon yet to be fitted as well. Given the hinge mortise, the mortise for placing the nut onto the threaded rod hold-down, and the nuki mortise above that, there wasn't a lot of real estate to play with. I wanted the sheet copper to be as tall as I could make it, and wanted to keep to the traditional pattern of rail/batten spacing on the door, so the hinges ended up where they ended up. I think the fact that the hinge escutcheon and, on the other face, the fixing pin escutcheon, overlap the copper slightly is not a significant negative. To have zero overlap would have meant reducing the height of the copper feet to 8" or so, at which point their usefulness in functional terms (protecting the lower end of the post from the weather) diminishes quite a bit.

Open sesame:

The doors were a 'dead nuts' fit in their opening, which was a relief. One of those things that keeps me up at nights sometimes is imagining that the doors were an inch or two wider or narrower than they are supposed to be.... I still have to plane the outer edges of the hanging stiles, and seeing how the doors fit together was helpful in figuring out exactly how I will need to tune those surfaces.

This afternoon the remaining copper work was delivered. I think the business gurus call it 'just in time delivery'  - whatever, I was glad it was done before the deadline. All good as far as the part quality too, though the fabricator was pushed hard by the difficulty of soldering the 4 post caps with silver solder, the high heat tending to easily warp the copper. It would have been much easier to use regular solder, however then I would have had to find a metal finisher who could chemically treat the copper black (as the powder coating process would melt regular solder), and I couldn't find companies in the Northeast who wanted to tackle that. Things you learn as you go....

Next, the main posts, now separated from the kabuki and magusa, had their upper faces rebated to fit their copper caps:

The cap slides on - getting these to fit well took a while longer than I expected, and lots of planing cross-grain:

Now you know why my kneecaps are always coated in sawdust. If the fit was too tight, I risked the copper getting stuck on there and being hard to remove. I really, really wanted to avoid that situation.

All the way on:

Looks tidy enough I hope:

Last task was the fitting of the copper caps to the kasagi. First, the kasagi were fitted to the main posts:

Then the copper 'roof' could be placed and the end scribed to the post face:

So, by the end of the day I had completed the copper-related tasks and shlepped the parts down to Springfield where the powder coating company is located. I have the work on 'rush' so they may have it done in a couple of days, three at the most. Their oven accepts parts up to 8' long, so I just squeeze in there with the kabuki ridge cap. Good to be lucky sometimes.

A myriad of minor tasks to be completed yet. I'll be revising my punch list this evening. I have 5 full days left to complete those tasks and package the parts for transport.

All for today- thanks for dropping by and hope to see you next time. Post 77 is up next.