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restored japanese hand tools  RSS feed

 
tel jetson
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I just got back home to Washington State after a long trip to Japan. I learned a lot about using and caring for a variety of hand tools, and brought a few back for myself. I discovered that there are quite a few used tools available over there. they aren't cheap, but they are a whole lot less expensive than new tools, and they're frequently of much higher quality than what's for sale if a little time is taken to remove the rust and restore the edge or edges, maybe replace a handle. naturally, I started imagining amassing a respectable shop of good tools to take home, but there was only so much I could fit in my luggage...

but now I'm wondering if other folks would be interested in these tools. I could quite easily justify a trip back just for tools if I was convinced I could sell a decent number of them here at home. the tools in question include planes (kanna) of various sorts, a variety of chisels (nomi), saws (nokogiri) in many sizes and designs, whetstones, axes, adzes (chouna) draw knives, hammers, gimlets, maybe a few kitchen knives and straight razors, builder's squares (sashigane), ink pots (sumitsubo), carpenter's pens (sumisashi) and likely several others that are escaping my memory at the moment. if a return trip ends up working out, I could also probably take requests. garden tools would also be an option, but many of those are already available in the US for relatively reasonable prices.

I'm not yet an expert at assessing these tools, but I can recognize hand-made tools from cheap knock-offs, and good quality machine-made tools from home center crap. just as an example, I'm guessing I could bring a good quality kanna back to working order and sell it for under $200 where one of similar quality might cost several times that new. I could easily pick up really affordable tools that are still good quality as well a exceptionally nice tools that would be exorbitantly expensive if not downright impossible to find new.

anyhow, I'm just exploring the possibility at this point, so I would appreciate input. if you're not already familiar with this stuff, but you're curious, have a look at Hida Tool to get an idea of prices for the tools I'm talking about.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Tel,

I specialise in Middle Eastern and Asian timber framing and other traditional and natural building modalities. Traditional tools are, of course, part of this. I have many contacts in Japan, and currently have a 400 year Minka farm house for sale for export (amoung others) to exclusive clients. If you could post pictures I may be able to help assess quality and age, as for pricing, Hida is one of the most expensive. I was going to (in due course) post my list of tool vendors I use that are both here and overseas, with reviews for Permies members that are interested. Thank you for making this post, and sharing your interest. I would also love to know why you go to Japan, perhaps you would be a good source for Minka, and maybe be part of a project? I will guess your Japanese is much better than mine (I only can do architectural japanes in more than speaking.) look forward to the exchange of knowledge, and maybe tools.

Regards,

j
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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nice. I picked Hida because they have a decent spread and a nice website. and because they showed up first on google. I've never purchased tools from any online outfit, but I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts about other vendors.

sadly, my Japanese is not exactly fluent. I'm working on it, though. mostly to read technical carpentry manuals. the folks I know in Japan had a lot of trouble translating carpentry vocabulary into English, even with a solid understanding of carpentry and relatively good English.

I went to Japan first for a wedding and to meet my partner's family. this time I went to help a friend of a friend get started with a new homestead. he's a licensed daiku, but only trained to be able to work on his own home. he's a fairly gregarious guy, though, and counts several miya-daiku among his friends. we got some great instruction on building with whole trees from a chap who learned his trade maintaining the temples and shrines in Nara. his father and brother are rather proficient, too. I guess he regularly wins kanna contests, for whatever that's worth.

I'll try to get some photos up later, and I'll certainly be in touch.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Till we speak again...some photos to inspire you:

A frame a student cut.

The meeting of a post, and two other members with a "hinden locking joint" in a timber frame porch of black oak.

Scarf joint in stone.

Layout and cutting of stone joint.

Tools for cutting stone.

Close up of stone joint toggle end.

Post to stone for foundation.

A Korean style Maru 청마루 floor under construction out of some white pine that I salvaged from a down tree in our village.

Finished floor, note that the beam in the center of the shot is over a meter wide and most of the floor boards fitted into this beam work is over 500mm wide.

Some of the saws I use with custom handles.

Photo show maker of saws signature.

Spline joint without spline...

...with spline.

Porch beam joint intersection.

Same joint from below.

Ceiling panel in the Japanese style out of scrap maple and black oak. Strips are about 40 mm wide and only about 3 mm think.

Panel installed in bay window of a room.
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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here's a bad photo of the signature on a kanna-ba.
IMAG0096.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMAG0096.jpg]
 
alex Keenan
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hi Tel,

I specialise in Middle Eastern and Asian timber framing and other traditional and natural building modalities. Traditional tools are, of course, part of this. I have many contacts in Japan, and currently have a 400 year Minka farm house for sale for export (amoung others) to exclusive clients. If you could post pictures I may be able to help assess quality and age, as for pricing, Hida is one of the most expensive. I was going to (in due course) post my list of tool vendors I use that are both here and overseas, with reviews for Permies members that are interested. Thank you for making this post, and sharing your interest. I would also love to know why you go to Japan, perhaps you would be a good source for Minka, and maybe be part of a project? I will guess your Japanese is much better than mine (I only can do architectural japanes in more than speaking.) look forward to the exchange of knowledge, and maybe tools.

Regards,

j


I would be very interested in your list of tool vendors. It can be very hard to get good tools. I have resorted to having friends bring back tools when on business overseas.
It would be nice to find sources that I could order from for USA delivery.

Looking forward to seeing your list when you post it.
 
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