Japanese Hip Rafter Workshop 2015

by Mathieu

students workshop 2015

I did not meet my goal! I aimed for every single student to complete the whole model during the time of the workshop. Only three came very close. They where able to fit at least one of the jackrafters to the hip but unless the students are already very experienced woodworkers doing this kind of stuff all the time, I think it is fair to say that we could use another day. And for those who would work extra fast we could always delve into some related subjects. Like the joinery of the hiro-gomai where they meet on the hip. Hiro-gomai are the boards that lay on top of the rafters at the end of the eave.

I was pleasantly amazed by the accurate results the students achieved. It was sometimes difficult to avoid the knots in the wood but their careful approach certainly helped to achieve good results.

knotty wood


The first two days are the most challenging, a lot of head scratching and brain torture to visualize all the parts and how they fit together.


Things start to fall into place when the joints are being cut. At their own pace the students experience a eureka moment where suddenly they start to ‘see it’.

cutout keta half lap

Compound angle joinery always remains challenging. No matter your level of experience you can always come up with concepts to build that will take you out of your comfort zone. However building a hip rafter model is a great place to start and to take your first steps into this world of triangles. You could say that for any professional timber framer it is a mandatory skill. Laying out a hip rafter with only a square at your disposal should be part of everyone’s initial training.

compound angles

I can happily announce that the workshop was a great succes. It was a very nice group of people to spend time with and we had plenty of fun. I already look forward to the next edition. If you are interested in taking this course have a look here to subscribe, stay tuned for future dates.