Japan – Master Carpentry

For our final post on Japanese craft, let’s take a look at the beautiful art of carpentry.

Japanese carpentry is known for its complex system of joinery, crafted entirely by hand.

The tools used to work the wood are as artful as the furniture they are used to produce.  Unlike western carpentry tools, Japanese saws and planes are designed to cut on the pull stroke, rather than on the push.  One advantage to this is that the saw blades can be thinner, and therefore make finer cuts, but the technique takes quite awhile to master.

Because everything is done by hand, it is a laborious process, and the furniture, interior, and exterior work are priced accordingly.

However, when you consider the incredible amount of skill and knowledge that goes into each and every complex bit of joinery, and the centuries it has taken to perfect these techniques, the cost seems relatively small.

Imagine hand crafting all these individual components, and then putting them all together until you have achieved…

…something this beautiful.  This exquisite mizuya (kitchen) tansu is by Ki Arts.*

Since opening their world to ours in the 19th century, Japan’s amazing carpentry methods have captured the imaginations of western architects and designers.

Image via Gamble House website

From the unique construction and furniture designs of the Craftsman era ‘Gamble House‘ by Greene and Greene,…

Image via Whyrhymer

… to the graceful lines of this modern ‘Orbis’ table by Whyrhymer, the influence of Japanese carpentry is everywhere.

*Thank you to Ki Arts for the generous use of their images to illustrate much of this post.

One Response to “Japan – Master Carpentry”

  1. Katherine Stevens Says:

    I’ve always wanted a tansu chest – especially the ones that are stair-stepped. But the kitchen cabinet above is new to me, and quite remarkable! For some reason they appeal to me the most. (Tatami mats are great, too….)

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