Workshop: Japanese Hip Rafter 2015

by Mathieu

Due to the success of this workshop in 2013 (read about it here) the kind folks at Dictum have asked me to repeat the Japanese Hip Rafter Workshop. The other day I received an email from the staff to let me know that places are filling up quickly and it made me happy to know that there is an interest in the subject. I look forward to traveling to Niederalteich in Germany. Last time it was an enjoyable experience teaching at their great facilities, they are well equipped and make sure that everyone can enjoy their time to the fullest.

Reserve your time between 23 and 26 February if you are considering joining us.

hip detail

The content of the course will remain largely the same but I have tweaked some aspects a little. For example I will further revise the written course I originally wrote and add some more illustrations. The model that each participant will make will be simplified a little bit. Don’t worry, it will remain challenging enough but I have a good reason to do so.

This year I am aiming for all participants to completely finish the model during the course. Last year most of the participants completed the model for up to 90% and two were able to get to 98%. I was very pleased with that result but since we can always improve ourselves I am setting a more challenging goal this year. If for some reason not everyone can finish the model I would be the only one to blame and will set this goal again until we’ve reached it.

By adjusting the roof model we will be able to expand on some important topics and allow more time for accurate cutout. I have also prepared some additional material for those extra-talented participants who are able to work focused and fast. I certainly wouldn’t want to disappoint them. Hip rafters, especially in the Japanese tradition, are such a vast field of study that you could easily fill years exploring all their variations and intricacies.

Covered topics:

  • half-lap joint of the wall plates
  • connection of the hip rafter with the crossing of the wall plates
  • connection of the jack rafters with the hip
  • structurally sound and elegant joinery solutions
  • geometry and the Japanese roof lay-out method

This is just a limited description and only lists the main subjects. We will be discussing much more like tools, efficient cutout methods, use of the sashigane and the urame (back scale), some trigonometry and mathematical approaches to solve cut angles etc.

The price for the workshop is 465€, this includes four full days of training, course material, a printed reference and all the wood to construct the model. For more details and to book the course you can have a look at their website here.

The Result

I would like to share some pictures of a project realized by Maxim Ducharme one of the students from the previous workshop. He built this roof frame shortly after he followed the course.

Max's Valley

This pretty western-style oak roof frame was cutout employing the Japanese layout methods he learned during the course. It is a perfect example of how this comprehensive method can be used in any style of timber framing.

I have used the course notes quite a lot on this project. And used the center line lay out, and believe it or not; “it works!”.

Max his Hip

If you have any questions regarding the workshop feel free to contact me:

Looking forward to seeing you there.


For those traveling from abroad to join the workshop carpooling might be an option. Contact me to see whether someone else is traveling to Niederalteich from your vicinity. The more international and diverse the group the better I believe.