Friday, August 8, 2008

Make a Shoji

Almost no power tools were used on this shoji and absolutely no sand paper.  
Initial rough milling done by table saw and planer.  All other work, chisels, Ryoba saw and Japanese hand plane bought at Hida Tool in oakland. The "finish" is done by using a Japanese smoothing plane which burnishes the wood and no finish is applied.  You can get shoji items from here as well.  
I spent a few evenings over the last month working with Jay Van Arsdale in Oakland at Laney College.  The plan was to learn how to make shoji screens, get to know more about them and understand the different ways to mount them.  Shoji is the common way to cover windows for privacy in Japan while letting in light.  In the US there has been quite an interest in them for their beauty, clean lines and amazing amount of ways they can be used in the home.  Want one that slides on a rail? Can do.  Swing open like a cabinet? No problem.  Open like a sash window?  Yep!  You get the idea.  While some of these applications are not traditional Japan, Arsdale tends to fall back on the simple, "since we are not in Japan..."

The picture is of my first Shoji, small but done to go through the motions of constructing a screen and I have a little window at a friends where it will find its home.  The screen is mortise and tenon with a haunch ( a small nub that keeps the joint from twisting and allows for a small through tenon) for the frame, half lap joints for the kumiko ( the lattice like interior pieces). Once you have done the fitting of the kumiko, it is final assembly time.  In the tenon you saw kerfs to allow for wedges which will pull the structure tight and lock it into place with NO glue.
Remember that heavy handed Americans break things.  And having a frame that after removing a wedge with a chisel you can replace a piece and reassemble is a huge plus.  Once the frame is together you can add the glue for the shoji paper and after it dries you are ready for installation.

In the event you want to make a shoji, Jay's book can be linked to below in my bookshelf.   
It is a great source of information and and endless source of ideas.

1 comment:

woodtreks said...

Everett: Your article is great inspiration. The idea of not using sandpaper before final finish is foreign to many, but an interesting and worthy goal. Not only does the final wood surface gleam, but the feel of finely planed wood is fantastic. And - no sanding dust while working. Wow. Keith (

(While it looks like you are accomplished already, I have a video on Japanese smoothing planes featuring Craig Vandall Stevens coming out next week that might appeal to some who are intrigued by your message.)