Fabula Lignarius

Month: August, 2014


I look up from the daimochi-tsugi joint I am cutting, my wrist needs a break for a second, 200 monme is heavy. We have been pounding on our chisels with heavy genno since several weeks now, working reclaimed Oak beams bone dry, rock hard. Nobody says anything, conversations are sparse and if they occur at all it is only to serve the work at hand. Talk and laughter are reserved for break times.


daimyo-tsugiA short glance around me and I realize how good life can be, I am working alongside some great carpenters. They are not just great because of their skills but more so because of who they are, just nice people. Who needs to talk anyway, everybody knows exactly what has to be done and how to do it. The energy is good, fueling the steady pace of our progress.

Hishida-san got his hands on a draw knife and has been cutting pegs out of Black Locust for some days. The pile grows steadily.

Hishida draw knife

The client is lucky to have such a dedicated crew of carpenters building a house for him. They have been dreaming of their own timber framed house for years now and it is finally happening. They love the local traditional building style and envisioned an Oak timberframe with large weathered beams and a distinct Belgian character.

This project is quite unusual in a very particular way. Ante who is toryo on this project invited some daiku friends from Japan to work with us on this job. All of us are trained in the Japanese carpentry tradition. Sumitsuke  is done with centerline layout, we use Japanese joinery slightly beefed up in proportion to accommodate the larger pieces executed with the usual laser like precision. Japanese tools everywhere and all that to build a timberframe that can only be described as a ‘Belgian vakwerk’. (A timberframe in Belgium is called ‘vakwerk’)


Me: I look forward to start working on those moya it might be a bit easier since they are made of old grown Oregon Pine.

Ueki-san: Yes, the Oak is very hard. Interesting combination, Japanese methods for a Belgian house.

Me: Maybe a new style, developed by Ante.

Ueki-san: Ante-zukuri..


Wishful thinking that was, the tight grain of the Oregon Pine is a joy to work on for a change but it is also hard as hell. It must be really old wood I say to myself. Good stuff.

At night we go to my house which has become the daiku-hotel. Diner, beer sometimes more beer and the next day more of the same. The days are simple, just work. It’s good really.


Hisashi-san doesn’t say much he just cuts joints, too busy getting things done.

Pause, strike a pose, snap, cut more wood.



Thank you for flying with us today, we hope to welcome you again in the future.


A few months ago I made a tansu for a Californian client and to keep the blogroll going I thought it would be nice to share some pictures.

tansu detail

Unfortunately I never bothered to take many pictures during the construction. The very few I took where made shortly after completing the work with the camera on my phone. No studio photography on this one.

The hardware is finely forged by Dan Chisler, very well made. These handles are much heavier then they look giving them a pleasant feel when you pull them.

drawer pull

A combination of Port Orford Cedar and Western Red Cedar was employed true the whole tansu. The contrast in colour will become less apparent over the next years when the Port Orford Cedar darkens slightly to a more golden hue.


So many tenons, double tennons and joinery of all kinds. It always amazes me how long it takes to build furniture if you intend to do it well.


Two hidden compartments and I will not reveal how to acces them.

Hudson tansu

This tansu was custom made to a specific size to fit in a constrained space in the owners house. I am sure it looks much better  installed in it’s final location instead of on this trolley in the workshop.