Although modern Japanese culture is relatively well known outside of Japan, it is not the same with its traditional or craft practices of carpentry, especially if it does not appear on television. This is the case with traditional Japanese carpentry, which, although much appreciated and valued by wood professionals who know it and have heard of it, is not known outside these areas.
Outside the East, the carpentry profession is somewhat generic and there are many who specialize in a particular field and have no problem doing other jobs. For example, a carpenter who devotes much of his time to the manufacture of furniture would not be afraid to manufacture the roof of a house if a customer requested it. This is an issue that becomes even clearer if we look at the training that carpenters receive today, aimed at carrying out a greater number of tasks. It doesn’t happen in Japan, there are well-defined profiles of carpenters and where it is really difficult to see them go outside their scope of action. There are mainly 4: those who dedicate themselves to temples or shrines, those who dedicate themselves to tea rooms and large residences, those who make furniture and those who build.
Japanese craftsmen they try to give the tree a second life By using your wood to make something that lasts and is in tune with your environment. They have a much more philosophical view of carpentry. A vision that on more than one occasion we would like to dive into and that brings a special attraction to the work carried out by these artisans.
Joints or sets of wood
One of the main reasons why Japanese joinery is known and appreciated is its methods of assembly. Avoid using nails or screws, without affecting the result.
They are the result of patience and ancestral knowledge that went from craftsman to craftsman. They are capable of carrying out the most complex jobs with original sets without joints.
“Wooden joints in classical Japanese architecture”, a book written by Torashichi Sumiyoshi and Gengo Matsui in 1989, became the bible of this technique. Some of these complex Japanese assemblies are described and explained in great detail here.
Brushing in Japanese carpentry
In Japan, special attention is given to brushing, among other things because with it the final result must be achieved, since sandpaper is not normally used. Any Japanese artisan has about twenty brushes of all sizes and thicknesses to do their job. With the structure of these brushes and the metal used, you can get really fine cuts, much more than we are used to in Europe and America.
The most outstanding tools of this oriental carpentry
One of the characteristics of these tools is the level of customization for the work to be performed, that is, it can be said that there is a tool for each job. Another important feature is the use of quality metals for the manufacture of these traditional tools, and not the typical alloys that we can find in a DIY store.
Japanese saw (Nokogiri). One of the most striking differences of Japanese saws compared to the ones we are used to seeing is that they do not cut when pushing, but in the movement of pulling or pulling. This allows for finer saws and more precise cuts. There are various sizes and shapes for all types of uses.
Japanese brush (Kanna). Like the saw, the Japanese brush cuts the traction and is basically formed by the wooden box, the blade and the fastener. Another big difference is that the blade is convex rather than flat.
Japanese chisel (Nomi). Giving a generalization in this case is more complex because the variety is huge, although it can be said that they are manufactured with rolled steel. They exist for all types of wood and work, with more or less chamfers, etc.