Tansu joinery

Hi all,
Today I was perusing some Japanese antiques at a the Marukai store in Torrance(?) and happened to come across a book titled "Traditional Japanese Furniture". The tansu photographs were very nice as well as the other stuff, but when I got to the end I found a chapter on Japanese furniture joinery too. They had the usual joints like dovetail, lap, miter, etc., but then it showed more complex joints like triple mitered joints, tenon/mortise miters, dovetailed miters, etc. All I could think of was that these craftsmen did it all by hand! In fact I don't think a machine could be designed to make these complex joints. What made it even more interesting was how simple these joints looked on the outside, yet very complex on the inside.
If the book weren't so expensive I'd buy it just for that chapter on joints alone.
Layne
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There are lots of books on Japanese joinery available. Just search on Yahoo or go to Amazon.com. Many are in the range of $20. <Layne> wrote in message

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Layne <> writes:
[...]

Of course such a machine could be built, but would be rather expensive.

There are several books on japanese joinery, and also some (limited) web sites.
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On Sun, 11 Jan 2004 01:16:16 -0800, Layne <> wrote:

Grab a copy (and "Traditional Korean Furniture" too). They've just gone out of print and they're already getting hard to find.
If you're interested in tansu specifically, then another good book is Ty & Kiyoko Heineken's "Tansu" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
or for a coffee table book with better photographs but less informative text, "Japanese Cabinetry" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)>

My impression is that Japanese furniture joinery is relatively simple, compared to building joinery. The craft system is such that apprentices are already heading for one narrow specialisition and (until recently) there was little cross-over. The styles and joint choices are thus quite distinctive between products. The typical Japanese reverence for tradition encourages this too.
I find Japanese cabinetry very simple to build. For tansu certainly, you're looking at far more work to do the ironwork than to make the woodwork, although as many tansu are three layers of nested box, then they can be quite lengthy too. I'm almost embarassed by the simplicity of some Japanese joinery. I've made pieces in the past with authentic pegged open tenon joints, then had them dismissed by Western woodworkers because they weren't dovetailed.
The clamped mitre is also an excellent way to make stable doors and light panels against moisture movement, but you _must_ use stable timber that's exactly quarter sawn, or else the thing warps completely. Japanese cabinetry assumes perfect timber and has few ways of using up those boards that are less than perfect. The British tradition OTOH, is all about using up the cast-offs that were too small for Nelson's Navy to build ships with.
For a pretty, but lightweight, picture gallery of framing joints try Seike's, "The Art of Japanese Joinery" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
A _much_ better guide to using and cutting such joints though is Nakahara's "Complete Japanese Joinery" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)>

Take a look at Chinese cabinetry sometime. Far more complex than Japanese, and much less visible.
Japanese cabinetry is realtively simple in scope. No chairs, no beds - so there are few items with legs, or that must withstand the racking forces of someone leaning back on them. Most Japanese styles have wide slab faces and so the design problem to overcome is that of dealing with moisture and timber movement in the seasonally varying Japanese climate, rather than the Western or Chinese problem of withstanding a high force through a narrow joint.
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On Sun, 11 Jan 2004 01:16:16 -0800, Layne <> brought forth from the murky depths:

Check places like Alibris.com, edwardrhamilton.com, Abebooks.com, Half.com, and Amazon.com for used or remainder books at MUCH lower prices. Renata and I were just lamenting those low prices yesterday. We buy far too many books that way. ;)
Art of Japanese Joinery: $8.75+4 at Abe, $5 + $2.79 s/h at Half. Japanese Joinery: $9.99 at Half, $25 at Abe.
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Thanks for the info guys. Some books I already know of and some I don't.
Re: Japanese and Chinese furniture. Chinese furniture is very ornate and has lots of relief carvings on the furniture. Whereas Japanese furniture tends to be very simple in comparison.
Layne
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2004 21:15:40 -0800, Layne <> wrote:

Not always - there have been styles were simplicity was almost Japanese-like.
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On Tue, 13 Jan 2004 14:59:20 +0000, Andy Dingley

True, and there were ornate Mission pieces, but each majority held true to their respective pattern.
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2004 21:15:40 -0800, Layne <> brought forth from the murky depths:

Did you get the monthly LVT catalog recently? Inside the back cover are some lines of VERY inexpensive tansu hardware. $2 a pop vs. the hand-made $48 hardware from the usual suspects. I guess some of Robin's customers demanded the super-cheap import stuff and they're serving it up now. Perhaps you'll like it more than I do.

Chinese furniture has always had a quaintly Victorian feel to me. Overly ornate; far too much so for my tastes. I prefer the elegant simplicity of Japanese and Mission styles, or the blending of the two. YMMV.
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LVT? Larry, can you supply the nonabbreviated version? Always looking for good if not cheap tansu hardware.
Thanks,
Layne
On Tue, 13 Jan 2004 19:03:27 GMT, Larry Jaques

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I'm going to assume it's Lee Valley Tools. Most of the people here who use abbreviations get really P.Oed when one of us newbies asks what the hell they're talking about. Since I'm as much in the dark as you, I figure I'll take a guess and save you some grief from the "wreck old-timers" who don't like people asking questions.
SWMBO, BORG, and the like.
On Mon, 19 Jan 2004 18:56:21 -0800, Layne <> wrote:

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Commonly used Acronyms found on Rec.Woodworking
SWMBO - She Who Must Be Obeyed
IMO - In My Opinion
IMHO - In My Humble Opinion
IMNSHO - In My Not So Humble Opinion
TIA - Thanks In Advance
AFAIK - As Far As I Know
IIRC - If I Recall Correctly
BTW - By The Way
:-) - Smile
<G> - Grin
BG - Big Grin
VBG - Very Big Grin
LOL - Laughing Out Loud (and sometimes "lots of luck")
LMAO - Laughing My A** Off
ROTFLMAO - Rolling On The Floor Laughing My A** Off
OBWW - Obligatory WoodWorking (something about woodworking after
discussing something completely NOT related to woodworking)
HD - Home Depot
TS - Table Saw
BS - Band Saw
r.ww - rec.woodworking
Add Big Orange for BORG, LN for Lie Nielson, LV for Lee Valley.
See, that wasn't so bad. I doubt if the old timers were really mad, just acting up . . . :-)

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Addendum:
HFT - Harbor Freight Tools
HF - Harbor Freight
LVT - Lee Valley Tools
DAMHIKT - Don't Ask Me How I Know This
ROTFLSHIAPMP - Rolling on the floor, laughing so hard I almost peed my pants.
The Wreck - the rec.woodworking newsgroup
Wreckers - us'uns
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--== May The Angst Be With You! ==-- -Yoda, on a bad day -- http://diversify.com Ending Your Web Page Angst.
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I thought it was Lee Valley, but wanted to comfirm.
Thanks Larry,
Layne
wrote:

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Yes, LVT is Lee Valley Tools, SWMBO is "She Who Must Be Obeyed" and BORG is the "Big Orange Retail Giant". Don't feel too bad, I never have been able to figure out (sic) or DAMHIT (actually, I don't think that's right, it's just how I remember it.
Don
wrote:

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On Mon, 19 Jan 2004 18:56:21 -0800, Layne <> brought forth from the murky depths:

http://www.leevalley.com Lee Valley Tools, silly. Man, you should know THAT one by now. <tsk tsk tsk>
--== May The Angst Be With You! ==-- -Yoda, on a bad day -- http://diversify.com Ending Your Web Page Angst.
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