Today, just by typing “Woodworking Japan” or “Japanese Carpentry” on YouTube, we can find a lot of videos featuring intricate joints and machined parts. Japanese wood processing techniques. All of them are beautiful, extremely precise, and absolutely remarkable. No wonder they are so popular.
Is Japanese lumber just a softwood technique?
These techniques also apply to hardwoods like oak, chestnut, persimmon … The reason I use softwoods is that in Australia the hardwood is really hard. Australia is famous (or infamous) for its super hardwood collection. Also, most of the woods available here are planks. I wish I could use oak or cherry block but it’s not available, it’s a pity.
The only difference between softwood and hardwood is its finish. While for softwoods, “surface finishing” (only surface finishing by planning) is the most common and common, for the following hardwoods, sand, and oil, lacquer, polyethylene when planning.
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Why are nails and glue not good?
Today, we have many different types of glue. Some of them are very useful and will make your woodworking efficient. Glue works especially well when joining plywood or MDF. Almost impossible to come out once it sticks. Other parts will be damaged if you try to press it. They are very strong.
Solid wood, however, doesn’t work like plywood or MDF, as solid wood always breathes and moves. Ignoring this movement and sticking them firmly like plywood and MDF will lead to the energy inside focusing on the weakest point. This will appear as large cracks and twists.
Are nails or glue used in Japanese woodworking?
Well, this is a bit of a scandalous question, because the media has focused too much on this point. The answer is yes or no.
Let me explain about the nails first.
For main structural parts, for example, columns and beams, or furniture legs and rails, no screws or screws shall be used.
There are 2 reasons for this. The first reason is that if the metal does rust, the wood that comes in contact with the metal will also start to rot.
Second, assembling components using only nails and screws does not result in a solid end. The main part will bear a strong force so the woodworking technique will be much more durable.
However, for parts that are not the main structural part, such as the installation of flooring or the invisible back of the drawer, stainless steel nails or wood nails, and even some glues are usually used.
So, to be exact, there are no nails or glues used in traditional Japanese woodworking. But for sure it would be much more fun to do everything with just a woodworking technique.