Japanese Joinery

Today we will be comparing my work to a well-renowned Japanese craftsman named George Katsutoshi Nakashima. He was a famous American woodworker, architect, and furniture craftsman. He had very many famous works that are so precise, appealing to the eye, and very creative.

I just started learning about Japanese joinery and its origins these past few months. I have found an interest in the craftsmen ship of joinery and all the different techniques and designs. Today I will be comparing Nakashima’s work to my work as a beginner.

This is the Conoid Chair that Nakashima made in 1988. It is a very beautiful piece that is put together with precision and accuracy. You can see many chairs made to imitate this. The special thing about hand joinery is that it is one of a kind. No one person can ever replicate a piece made by other craftsmen by hand.

“Conid Chair” 1988 by George Katsutoshi Nakashima

The top of his chair seems to have a slight curve that then is attached to the back. This represents a Japanese shrine entrance. The chair could’ve been created to look like one. Here is an example of one.

Now here is one of my works I have recently started working on. I will be showing both digital and physical work. I have made a Japanese eating table out of Tatami joinery. Tatami is commonly used in bed frames in Japan. Here is an example of a Tatami bed frame.

Now here are two of the digital designs I created in Autodesk Fusion 360.

Rectangular table and one species of wood
Square table with one species of wood and additional struts

As you can see his physical work is still more impressive than my digital work. His has a story behind it and it is one of a kind. I could try to recreate it but I will never be exact. With my work, anyone can take a measurement and recreate it because it is digital which is where I strive to want to get better at. I want to be able to tell a story through my work and show how it is one of a kind just like Nakashima did. Now here is my physical product. As you look at it notice there are many imperfections. This is due to the lack of skill and understanding in joinery and hand tools.

As you can see there are many gaps and unflushed edges. This is something I still need to practice at and own if I want to produce as good of work as Nakashima. Overall I think I did pretty well for the first time. I still have a lot of work to do though!

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