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And here is the drawing I made for the drawer, following traditional Japanese cabinetmaker ways. The drawer back gets its rabbet.And I get to test my Veritas mini shoulder plane (it works fantastic). So here we are back to the working area.Now with a set of Japanese saw horses to rest the toolbox on while nailing it together. I know that traditionally the toolboxes are nailed with cheap black nails, but I decided for beauty and for the carpentry learning to go for Moku Kugi (melawis wood) nails. The drill is made for the nails and are tapered.Notice that I change direction on the holes to make them wedge in, this box will last forever. In the inside of the box I cut out a square of wood to hold some cross bars.And these are made so they can be taken out easy. This gives me a small board for hanging the saws and other stuffAs you can see the Japanese planes are traditionally hanging on the side of the box. Hope this blog can bring some inspiration to others that play with Japanese tools and work methods.
I want to send a special warm thought to Toshio Odate, thank you for inspire ring me with your book, but most of all my sister who offered me my Japanese chisels and a Kanna that was the reason why this interest started. I'm a Danish architect form 1968, who have retired because of a spinal neck operation with a bad result. By subscribing to the RSS feed you will be notified when new entries are posted on this blog.
My knees and back are hurting just thinking of working on the ground.Beautiful job on the woodworking as always.
At first I didn’t understand why you had to cut your square until I realised that it was the short side which was too long. The lock in the knot is a brilliant idea.If I understand correctly, the lid is introduced on one side under the corresponding extremity board, clapped close and then shifted under the other extremity board (I am not sure I am clear here).Is there a locking system for the lid?
DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. These exceptional chisels are hand forged by Teruo Miyanaga, a third-generation master blacksmith considered one of the finest in Japan.
The laminated blades, hardened to Rc65-66, combine a hard high-carbon Yasuki blue steel face with a shock-absorbing kamaji iron backing. The chisels are a traditional pattern, with a triangular section that makes them ideal for removing waste between dovetails and allows them to work adjacent to angled surfaces. This plane seems to be designed to create a tongue along the edge of a board, like one half of a Stanley #48. On the underside of this plane there is an adjustable fence, which is held in place with the wing nuts on the bottom of the fence.
Recently a reader asked about a list of tools to buy for the beginning Japanese woodworker, and the process of cutting dovetails was mentioned. The way that I’m going to look at this is to pretend that Sandy wiped out my house, and I had to start over from scratch in terms of putting together my tools. When I was first looking to pick up a Japanese chisel, all I had were reports on the internet from users and their experience with various Japanese chisel makers. At the other end of the scale, I would read about chisel makers like Tasai and Funahiro, who made what were by all reports phenomenal chisels, although out of my budget. This is one of a series of articles that will describe how to set up and use various Japanese woodworking tools in an effort to show you how they work and how you might be able to include them in your own workshop. Previously, we looked at setting up and using a modern style ink line, and discovered that they are easy to set up, easy to use and can be a handy bit of gear to have in the workshop in certain situations. But the modern style inkline with automatic line rewinding, sealed ink reservoir, modern materials and clean design didn’t just appear, fully formed and ready to go to work. In the case of the Shinwakaba sumitsubo above, the wooden parts are made of keyaki (Zelkova Serrata, Japanese elm), a wood prized for it’s durability and beauty and comprise of a reel, a body with a place to hold the reel and a large bowl shape to hold the wadding. The saving grace of these tools is that they are cheap, really cheap and most crafts-persons who own something a little more upscale usually own one of these beasts too, simply because they are so cheap and allow a little freedom. Next, take the wadding (about 3-4 eggs worth, loose) and dampen it with water (I didn’t, my mistake!) and insert half of it into the bowl under the line. Then cover the line with the remaining wadding and tuck it under the sides so it will stay put.
Next, we need to coax the ink to soak into the wadding so the line can be inked as it runs through. There is one point you should be aware of before starting, and that is to loop the line around the spike in the karuko.
There is one major difference when using a sumitsubo like this when compared to the modern versions, and that is actually inking the line.
The modern, sealed versions have precautions against mould forming in their permanently wet ink reservoirs.


For outright speed, they are about the same, with the traditional style having a slight edge in some cases. I don’t think there is a clearly better way to go, and depending on how you work should decide which way works best for you. I have been looking forward for a while to make this blog, this because the result is one of my favorite woodworking projects, it was like a sum of skills leaned and also a design and history challenge that I enjoyed.The result is something I am proud of and that I think will stay with me for as long as I live.
But after I read Toshio Odate’s book ‘Japanese woodworking tools their tradition spirit and use’ I knew I needed to make myself a real traditional Japanese toolbox one day. This one I think is really classy, I like the long slim design.Notice feet, handles with shape and that the bottom boards are sideways (not normal). This might be a commercial for the green boxes, but it shows the simple and different types of toolboxes. Found this beginner set on a Japanese site.And yes it is probably all we need to get started.
This video is what made me want to take the extra challenge, to put some traditional cabinetmaking details into my box, and to make the drawer after these principals. What I like most about the japanese approach is the unique joinery they use that does not require glue or nails. Great pictorial tour through the world of Japanese tool boxes, I really enjoyed it, thanks for sharing.
Very interesting but dang, with my bad knees and back, I don’t believe I would be able to work and sit on the floor like they do! Hand tool expert Garrett Hack offers tips and techniques to get the most out of your smoothing plane.
This is now giving me the chance to spend some time on my old passion 'woodworking', and allows me to work with all the lovely tools from different cultures of this world.
I have never see the wooden nails but it looks like they are used like dowels with glue for the final assembly and should never loosen- especially when you put them at and angle- neat idea.
A challenge to forge and temper, blue steel has a high tungsten and chromium content to give a durable edge, especially in hard or abrasive woods. Their white oak handles have pre-seated, hand-forged hoops and are canted to provide clearance for flush-trimming projections or fitting recessed joints.
The two halves of the plane can be moved closer or farther apart using the side wing nuts and the gear-shaped adjusting wheels seen in the bottom photo. Watching twin shavings coming out of this plane sort of reminds me of dual exhausts in a 1970 Dodge Challenger, except that instead of a smell of burning rubber, you wind up with a nicely centered ¼" tongue and a nice pile of curly shavings. Shapton Professionals, which is what I have, and Sigma Power are both great, and it’s hard to beat the package that Tools From Japan has. With this particular list, the sharpening setup is the most expensive item, even more than the Japanese plane, which would cause many to wonder why should you blow so much money on a sharpening system.
You probably could sharpen Japanese tools with oilstones and a strop or Scary Sharp, but I wouldn’t want to do so over the long haul. And yes, a sharpening system is a woodworking tool, and arguably one of the most important tools in your shop. You’ll be limited in the variety of the dovetails that you can make (no super-skinny houndstooth pins), but for good, basic, strong dovetails, this will be a good choice. And although there were a lot of reports that Japanese chisels from many different sources were really great, there would be the occasional report that there were issues with chipping, especially with really inexpensive Japanese chisels.
Its teeth have a Japanese crosscut profile, but the profile is altered a bit to make it behave more like a rip tooth saw.
Even better, you’ll have a great base upon which to build your woodworking tool arsenal.
If you already own some of the tools included in these articles, then you may find new ways in which you can use them.
While it is often said that you must use xyz tool in a particular, proscribed manner it is more likely a case of that way being one of several ways to use the tool. These modern tools have been available for only a relatively short time, and as you might expect, the predecessor is a much simpler tool but no less useful.
As this is a manufactured tool (hand made, but the person who made it does not use it) it is not strictly traditional, but we are splitting hairs here and there’s no need for that.
A reel for holding a string, a method of applying ink to the string and a body to keep it all together. From the simple shown above, wooden bodied and even one with a large spike for being driven into concrete.
Unroll the line and run it through the hole in the outside and then through the hole between the bowl and reel and tie the line to the reel. I will warn you to not place your mark up the board like I have done here, it makes things a little more difficult to line up later. Maybe, but you might be thinking that you may wish to keep your ink line ready to use for the next time.


These traditional style do not have any such guards, and placing them in a sealed container will promote mould growth, at least damaging the wadding and line, at worst condemning a beautiful wooden sumitsubo to the rubbish dump. A little water the next time you use it will bring it back to life, good as new and mould free to boot.
While the modern is cleaner and faster to use much of the time, the traditional style is only a little slower, doesn’t need to be messier and allows you to ink your brush instantly.
For ease of use, again they are about the same, the modern style having the edge most of the time. I don’t use it myself, but the standard procedure is to make a few shallow cuts in the end to help propagate splits, whack it with a round faced hammer to break it up and add a little water to soften the fibres.
Writers was perhaps not even woodworkers and even we have an old black and white photo showing someone with a saw, we can’t know if this is traditional or not.The only interesting thing I can conclude from this picture is that the toolbox even the design is different seems to be quite simple and made from cheap wood to transport tools inside.
So a young starter will not go and buy the whole Lie Nielsen set if he had the money, he would buy his tools as needed, when needed and then upgrade as his skills improve. It inspires me to consider employing some of the techniques used by the crafstman of Japan. Please upgrade to a different browser or install Google Chrome Frame to better experience this site. It took some persuasion (read: very large mallet) to get the blades out of it, and they were pretty rusty, along with the chipbreakers, nickers, and other hardware. After disassembling the two halves, it is clear that each half has the same basic construction as a Japanese fillister plane.
If you put together a set of Shapton Professionals and the Atoma diamond plate from Tools From Japan, it’s about the same price. The reason for my choice of Fujihiro chisels is that these are the ones that I have and use, and I’ve been very pleased with them. The teeth are impulse hardened, so sharpening them is out of the question for most people, but the blade is replaceable. This is not a hard and fast rule, and if you find that you wish to use a tool in a way that ‘goes against the grain’, then you should go ahead and do it, provided that the method is safe and will not harm the tool. Wind the line into the reel applying a little drag to the line to help keep it neat on the reel, and tie the loose end to the karuko. The ink chips will slowly dissolve, meaning that you will not need to add ink to the sumitsubo very often.
Better to have the mark on the end of the board, and drive the karuko in right on your mark. As a traditional style sumitsubo has an open reservoir, we need to apply pressure to the wadding directly. The ink dries very quickly, and you won’t be leaving finger prints everywhere on your work, so even these dirty fingers are not going to cause any troubles. For convenience, the modern style wins hands down as it’s ready to go within minutes, and can be made ready again in the future instantly. That black plastic tool box with the padding is from this site, I just don’t remember who posted it.
A soak in Evaporust and some sandpaper action got the blades and other rusty parts cleaned up. The nickers score the wood, and the corner of the blade is positioned so that it lines up with the inside corner of the sole of the plane and the nicker. Then I adjusted the wing nuts and gear shaped wheel so that the gap between the nickers was ¼".
Hard, because which tools you get depends a lot on your priorities, budget, and personal circumstance. These also happened to be the least expensive Japanese chisels that I could find that had good reviews and no negative reports. The included wadding is a silk cotton, the line is also silk and the bowl has been coated to prevent the wood becoming warped from the ink. Double loops never stay put for me, so I just loop the line and stick the karuko in place before the line falls off. The traditional style needs more time to get ready for work but will work all day without a moments consideration. The traditional style can also use a much longer line, in those cases where the modern ones are found wanting.



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