Inspired by the patience and dedication of a traditional Japanese apprenticeship, I embarked on a life-long journey to become a master furniture maker. Fifteen years ago I began my self-imposed apprenticeship with a minimal collection of Japanese hand tools to teach myself the fundamental skills of woodworking. I spent over a year on blade sharpening alone. Along the way I explored the woodworking traditions of Japan, China and Early America. I now integrate these influences with my own design aesthetic to create personal, one-of-a kind furniture pieces. My simple shop is a place of quiet solitude where I can be present with my work. Through the use of hand tools I create an intimate relationship with each piece of wood, combining my own spirit with that of the tree. I invest myself in the entire building process, from selecting wood from local sawmills to hand-forging my own hardware. It is this attention that gives a strong sense of presence to my work. Today, I combine the fundamental skills I have learned with the efficiency of modern power tools to create furniture of heirloom quality with the hope that one day it will inspire a new generation of craftsmen artists.
TUNING YOUR JAPANESE HANDPLANE
What seems like a simple tool, a blade and a block of wood, the Japanese plane (Kanna) is actually a very complex instrument with many subtle qualities.\The first challenge most westerners face when learning to use one is that they don’t come ready to use out of the box. You are only supplied with great ingredients, but it is up to the user to get the fit between the blade and the block just right.
In this course, we will work together through each step of the process to bring your new plane into working order. We will cover sharpening and shaping the blade, fitting the blade to the block and profiling its sole for optimal performance. Of course, we will also spend time using your new plane, learning to work with your whole body, not just your arms. The weekend will wrap up by putting our new planes to the test in a friendly planing contest (kezurou-kai).
At the end of this weekend course, each student will take home a fully operational Japanese hand plane and have the know-how to keep it working well.
We won’t need much more than a few chisels and a trustworthy straight edge. We’ll be using a 3/16 or narrower chisel to clean the sides of the grooves that hold the blade in. And a few wider chisels to scrape the ramp to get the fit just right – something like a 1/2”, 3/4 and 1” will work.
Also, we’ll be “tapping out” our blade (hammering the soft steel of the laminated blade to shape the hard cutting edge), so bring your lucky hammer!
And of course, we will be doing a bunch of sharpening. The school has a few sets, but it will speed things along if students had their own stones. Something like 1,000 and 4,000 and maybe 8,000 if you had it. You will also need a way to keep your stones flat (diamond lapping plate, sandpaper on glass)