Past Meetup

DEMO Q&A : Traditional Japanese woodworking class

This Meetup is past

4 people went

Bellingham Makerspace

1000 F St · Bellingham, WA

How to find us

Located in Technology Development Center

Location image of event venue


Question about the Japanese Woodworking - Basics class? The instructor Ivan Schierling will be demonstrating Japanese woodworking and available to answer questions.

Instructor Bio

Ivan Schierling has studied Japanese carpentry for more than 10 years. As a student of Jay Van Arsdale with the Daiku Dojo in Oakland, CA, Ivan became entranced with the beauty and craftsmanship of woodworking with well-made hand tools. In 2011, he studied Japanese timber framing from Dale Brotherton, another well-known and accomplished craftsman, at a workshop with EcoNest in Ashland, OR. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Mathematics, focused in teaching, Ivan apprenticed with Paul Discoe and the San Francisco Zen Center to assist with the construction of a large 12-pillar entry gate to the Tassajara Zen Center in Big Sur, CA. Recently, Ivan volunteered with Dale Brotherton and his company Takumi Design, participating in various projects in Washington.
Lesson Plan:

Day 1: Safety, Layout, and Crosscutting (2 Hours)

The student will first go over safety measures and tool etiquette. This includes many “do’s and don’t’s” when handling sharp cutting instruments. They will then go over layout methods and techniques using a carpentry square, or “sashigana,” needed to scribe cut lines on milled lumber. After scribing a series of crosscut lines, the student will learn how to cut along the line, making thin square wafers with a “dozuki” (cross cut pull saw). A challenge to the student will be how thin can they cut a wafer.

Day 2: Planing, Dimensioning, and More Layout (2 Hours)

Day 3: Crosscutting, Chiseling, Routing (2 Hours)


Sashigane: Carpentry Square that uses the traditional Shoku measuring system. One Shoku is 1/16” short of a foot but is broken down into ten “Sun” rather than 12 inches making it much easier to divide and multiply like the metric system. However, it is much easier to see and work with than tiny millimeters.

Sumishashi: A bamboo-marking instrument that can be re-sharpened to a sharp edge leaving thin layout lines.

Sumitsubo: Ink pot used to dab the sumisashi with sumi ink. Often comes with a wheel of thin twine for snapping lines on wood surfaces.

Dozuki: Crosscuting Saw or “Nogiri.” Japanese saws are well known for their razor- sharp teeth that cut on the pull stroke. Pulling a saw allows the carpenter to cut much more accurately and efficiently. It also allows the toolmaker to forge a thinner blade, for a thinner curf that results in less waste.

Kanna: Japanese hand plane. Like the dozuki, the kanna cuts on the pull stroke. The blade that is wedged in the wooden block or “dai,” is made from thick, laminated, high carbon steel. When both are properly sharpened and tuned, the kanna can cut shavings as thin, if not thinner than 3 microns (.003 mm). To give a comparison, paper is roughly 0.1mm and a human hair is around 30 microns (.03mm).

Nomi: The Japanese bench chisel, like the kanna, is made from laminated high carbon steel. This well developed process of forging hard steel “Hagane” and soft steel, “Jigane” is much like forging the Japanese samurai sword. It gives a wicked sharp edge that last longer than soft steel but can take the blunt force of a hammer for cutting mortises.

Genno: The hammer that is used for chiseling mortises comes in many head styles and metal materials. The student will be using a generic Japanese hammer with a flat side and curved side.