Monday, March 30, 2015

Gateway (81)

Post 81 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.


Last full day of construction.

Most of the day was occupied by work on the main posts. They needed finish planing for one thing:

The nose pieces also were fitted and the joint lines checked - this pic is after making adjustments:

Panning back so you can see the entire nose piece:

A look from the other side:

Both fit well, tenon to mortise, but required some adjustments to the mating surface on the post to get the fit I wanted. Here's the other one:

A closer look at one joint line:

You can see some pencil marks on the post face which indicate the mortise for the sheet copper termination.

And here's a look at the opposite face and its joint line:

This second main post, shown in  the pic above was ornery. It was the one of the two which had bowed during drying and I was only just able to eke out the finish dimensions. It has loads of knots on the pith side and the grain on the bark side, though free of knots, veers back and forth. It had cupped on two of the faces since it was S4S planed months back. Just uncooperative all around - it was a PITA to plane, but I got through somehow. Then I put waxy impregnator on it and it developed a slightly pinkish cast for some strange reason. The only stick of the lot which has done this. Something unusual about the fiber in that stick, that's for sure. I'm wondering if it will weather differently than the other sticks.

Finish planed the main posts and nosepieces today - that was in fact most of the day's excitement.

The kiosk, which was the starting point for construction on this project, was also the finishing point. I fitted some wedges to lock the scarf joints up, which in turn enabled an accurate end cut lines to be marked on the post ends. Then I trimmed those post ends, removed the wedges, and pulled the lower half off so it could be disassembled that into its constituent parts:

The kiosk roof section will require no further work beyond cleaning up the groove on the backside of one of the posts for the wire chase:

The lowers will be fitted to the metal shoes, chamfered, finish planed, etc.

I went to the powder coaters this afternoon to pick up all the copper. Good news was that they had completed all the work. Bad news was that the roof section for the top of the kabuki had fallen down inside the oven and incurred some damage...and now had an uneven surface. That sucks, and there's not much I can do about it. I'll talk to the metal fabricator tomorrow to see if he might be able to smooth the wrinkles out, but it might be hard to do without damaging the paint. The powder coaters have offered to pay for a new piece of copper, however there just isn't any time to make that happen. At least the top of the roof cap is not viewable generally speaking, but still. I was very disappointed with that outcome.

Here are most of the other pieces back from powder coat:

Here we have the kasagi end caps (left), fastening strips for the nose pieces, the yatoi sen for the kiosk connections, and some door stile caps:

I thought I'd throw in a shot of the kannuki, or door drawbar, fitted with its bronze caps:

The kanji for kannuki is one of the easiest to remember in Japanese, very obviously derived from a pictograph, though that said it is not a character many Japanese people would likely know as it is specialized. Combine a pictograph for gate doors () with horizontal bar () and you have kannuki (). Tah-dah!! Easy, right?

Here's the kannuki from end to end - it is 60" long:

Tomorrow I pick up the 16' box truck from Penske and head to the shop. I have some assorted fabrication tasks to wrap up and then should be loading during the afternoon. Delivery the day after.

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. Up next: post 82

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gateway (80)

Post 80 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.


Nearly there. Another long day of go-go-go, and I ticked most of the items off of the 'to-do' list by the time the dust settled. Not all steps were photographed as I was generally too preoccupied. Fighting the effects of fatigue, a messy shop and the stuff I misplace in it, tools that need sharpening, wood that won't's the crux time, no doubt about it.

I started off repairing the arris of one of the kasagi beams. A chunk had randomly broken off the edge of it at some point for no apparent reason, and I fixed it with an angled dovetail patch as shown in earlier posts. That piece can be seen in the background of the next photo with clamps holding the patch tight while the epoxy cures. 

After that repair was done, I set to work assembling the flanking paneled section to the left side of the gate. You might recall a few posts back that I had made up a three-panel assembly for this section with a couple of dovetailed battens. Here, I'm fitting the mudsill to the wall post:

The connection between these two parts is a double tenon with hammerheads - and I discovered a mistake I had made where for some reason months back I selected the wrong hammerhead bit for my router and the mortise did not precisely correspond to the tenons:

The discrepancy was in the angle of the inverted dovetail, not the height, and was easily corrected by opening up the hammerhead mortise at the wide end with a chisel. The nice thing about this type of joint is that the neck of the hammerhead aligns the joint, and so long as the distance to the shoulder of the hammerhead is correct, it will draw up tight even if the hammerhead shape does not match perfectly.

A while later I had the frame most of the way together, save for the header:

On this side of the header, the yatoi sen to go into the wall post has a hammerhead end:

The hammerhead end inserts in the open mortise...

...and then slides down to lock in place:

Then the header is slipped on and moved towards the wall post to engage its tenons:

Then the header is shifted down at the other end, gradually trapping the top of the paneled section:

The header is now down at the flanking post end, fully engaged with the paneled section, and the tenons at that end of the stick have entered their associated mortises:

All that remains is to coax the assembly fully together.

With the header connected to the flanking post, the block-hammerhead floating tenon can now be fitted:

You can see in the above picture that the crosswise trenches in the floating tenon for the shachi sen have been cut.

This piece is simply tapped into position:

"She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes...":

Well hello there!

Here's the intersection between the mudsill and the flanking post - another task that formed part of today's process was making the dado around the sill for the copper covering:

A closer look:

Back to that first corner with the double hammerhead tenons:

With the frame assembled around the paneling, the half dovetails on the ends of the battens could be wedged:

This is about how far the wedge can be pushed in by hand:

After driving in:

The wedge then receives a little tap down to push it flat against the panel (not shown). Then a good swabbing with the waxy impregnator.

With the four wedges in for the battens, the next task is to fit the double-tapered parallelogram fixing pins, or shachi-sen around the frame corners. I started with the lower connection between mudsill and flanking post:

Driven down to lock the joint a little further:

Then trimmed off flush:

The pencil marks remain here because this section will be covered by the ice/water shield and copper.

As for the header, it receives shachi-sen at both ends:

After installation, the only way you'd see these joints is if you squatted down and looked up. They are discrete. The flanking paneled section, or waki, is done! I shuffled it off to the pile of parts and moved on....

Next I finish planed the magusa (main door header) and chamfered it. Then I made the kannuki, which is the drawbar for the doors, and fitted it with bronze caps. At this point I was not thinking much about taking photos, just working to get stuff done. Those two parts were then treated with the waxy impregnator and set aside. Done and done.

Then I went to clean off that patch on the kasagi that I had glued up in the morning. It cleaned up well and looked decent, so I went to finish plane the piece. The stock for the kasagi was not the best material unfortunately, and gave me some trials and tribulation during finish planing. Both pieces were like this, and I had a little bit of tear out due to some ridiculously frequent grain reversals. Some POC is like that. Got through it, but it's tough to deal with stuff like that at the end of the day. All too easy to get frustrated, tap the blade down a bit and rip the shit out of the material, images of sacrificial burnings coming to mind. Didn't go down that path, though the idea did dance across my mind!

The kasagi done, I crawled off home. Tomorrow is the last full day of shop fabrication, with work on the main posts and the kiosk occupying most of the slate. The day after is largely revolving around packaging and loading.

Stay tuned - and thanks for visiting. Up next: Post 81

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gateway (79)

Post 79 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.


Another longish day, with some solid progress to show.

With the side door fitted, I turned my attention to fabricating the receiver piece which incorporates the door striker plate. I didn't prepare any drawings in this case. This is what I came up with 'winging it':

The uphill side, which would be hit by the rain, has a quarter-circle curve, and the lower terminates in a sort of drip edge (right).

Here's the funky little mortise for the striker plate and it's built-in receptacle:

 The receptacle (not sure that is the technically correct term for the part) fitted:

And then the striker plate:

Positioned on the wall post for a look-see:

The receiver is attached to the wall post by two GRK timber screws - the heads of these screws are recessed in a counter bore, and these in turn are capped by umeki:

Another view:

Just for comparison, here is the new part with the original - which was simply glued to the post:

Some of the parts on the original gate were oddly chunky, the receiver being a case in point. It's additional height beyond the door thickness simply provided more wood for the door catch to grind off.

I made sure the chamfer on the post stops and turns right where the receiver piece connects:

And ditto on the other end:

That completes work on the door and related framing - - except for the yatoi sen, which are the means by which much of the framing on this project connects. These are a type of floating tenon, some on this project come with a block hammer head end, and some come with a dovetailed hammerhead end. Depends how the connection goes together.

I made the stock out of Burmese teak off cuts, and once the pieces were made, I had to fit them to their respective parts, assemble the parts, and then mark out the points where the wedging keys, or shachi-sen, will be fitted. The trenches for the shachi sen have already been cut on the relevant timbers.

There are seven of these floating yatoi sen on the gate, and it seemed efficient to make them all at the same time even though they varied in certain details.

Here's the header for the paneled left side of the gate, beginning its slide down 'the pole':

'The pole' is a literal translation for the type of joint here, which is a rod tenon, or sao tsugi, sao meaning 'rod' or 'pole'.

The connection is reinforced against lateral and twisting loads by two stub tenons, and the central large tenon traps the yatoi sen in place:

The header fully down, with a square to check:

Then I mark out the mortises for the shachi sen, disassemble the parts, and cut the trenches on the key.

Here's one with the block hammerhead form, inserting from the rear of the flanking post:

All the way in, down so that it is recessed from the surface - this, to guard against any shrinkage in the post bottoming out the yatoi sen, which would push the flanking post off of the main post:

On the other side, the yatoi sen emerges:

It is a pretty darn strong connection, and super discrete. As mentioned many posts back, in attempting to match the aesthetic of the original gate, which employed many threaded rods, I have employed this form of all wood joinery. It'll last longer and no one will notice the change.

The same routine then commences with the fitting:

My wife popped by the shop at the time I was fitting the yatoi sen, and although I wasn't in what you might call an especially photogenic state, appearance-wise (a rare moment for me, let me assure you), she offered to shoot a little video. Seemed like it would be a good way of showing a little assembly work - gives you an idea of how the parts fit together:

That's all for this round. However Sunday is a brand new day and there is a list of tasks ahead....

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. Comments always welcome. On to post 80