What Is Japanese Woodworking?

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Discover The Origin of Japanese Woodworking & Primary Tools

Anyone who appreciates fine craftsmanship and precision can marvel at the complexity of traditional Japanese woodwork. Furniture, cabinets and buildings constructed with these precise wooden joints are intricate in their internal mechanisms, yet externally simple and smooth.

Japanese woodworking is also an art that freelancers can practice with a few tools. It is a slow and meditative art that helps the carpenter feel a closer connection with the natural materials with which he is working.

What is Japanese carpentry?

Japanese woodworking uses only wood, with no additional metal fasteners or glue. The pieces are fixed by friction; therefore, precise measurements, cutting and brushing are necessary.

Joints are generally created by molding the two pieces of wood to fit together perfectly. In some cases, a wooden dowel or dowel can be cut to fit a hole or notch in the two pieces of wood.

Japanese woodworking techniques are based on long-standing traditions that emphasize simplicity, harmony, and precision.

Origins and history of Japanese carpentry

Traditional Japanese temples, houses, cabinets, and furniture have long been built with a special type of woodwork called tsugite. This joint mechanism developed in the 12th century and flourished for the next eight centuries.

As Japan has been a wood-rich country for a long time, it made sense to use wood for as much construction as possible. Only after the importation and adoption of metal fasteners in the late 19th century did traditional Japanese woodworking techniques lose their popularity.

Primary tools for Japanese woodworking

The main tools used for woodworking in Japan are manual and small. None of them run on electricity.

Ryoba hand saw

A ryoba saw is a flat, shovel-shaped saw. The adjustable wooden handle allows the handle to be turned towards the blade at any angle up to 90 degrees.

As a combination of cut and cross saws, a ryoba saw can cut parallel or perpendicular to the grain of the wood. The 9-1 / 2-inch ryoba saw is the most versatile saw for Japanese woodworking projects.


Most squares will work, although it is generally helpful to have a test square and a small adjustable square.


Genno Japanese woodworking hammers have a flat face on one side of the head and a curved or convex face on the other side. Do not use a hammer or claw hammer.


Chisels are used for both roughing and carving, as well as fine and detailed work. For this reason, it is useful to have a wide chisel in the 30 to 42mm range and a narrow chisel in the 18 to 30mm range.


Kanna planes differ from other woodworking planes in that the wood is scraped by pulling the plane towards the user. Other joinery planes are pushed by the work material away from the user.


A natural stone and diamond plate are used to sharpen the brush and chisels.

Primary woodworking techniques

Ari Shiguchi

An ari shiguchi joint is also known as a dovetail joint.

A piece of wood, cut into an enlarged V shape at the end, is placed at a 90 degree angle to a piece of wood cut with the negative of that shape.

Ari shiguchi is one of the most fundamental joints on the Japanese woodworking joint list.

Kane Tsugi

A tsugi kane joint is also known as a three-way joint.

Two pieces of wood meet at 90 degree angles at their ends. One piece of wood has a square section that slides into the receiving area of โ€‹โ€‹the other piece. At the top, both pieces have a square or round hole. A dowel is driven into the hole to hold the pieces together.

Sumidome Hozo Sashi

A sumidome hozo sashi joint is a male and female shoulder miter joint.

As a locking gasket, Sumidome Hozo Sashi fits perfectly without the need for nails. When the two pieces of wood come together, they rub against each other and it is difficult to accidentally separate them.

Advantages and disadvantages of Japanese woodwork


  • Intellectually challenging art, like solving a puzzle.
  • Strong bond that can only be broken when the wood itself breaks.
  • The finished product is completely free of fasteners and other bumps.


  • The construction must be much more precise than the use of metal fasteners.
  • Demanding craftsmanship that does not lend itself to rapid production.
  • Tools are special items (except for squares) and can be quite expensive.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about Beginning Japanese Woodworking & Basic Tools

Source: Lemongrasspicker

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