Japanese Woodwork Jigs
A Japanese planing board, mitre jig and two saw ponies. The mitre jig is a simple block for chiseling. The planing board has a mitre shooting board on its underside for creating full-blind dovetail joints.< Back to Main Page
Due to the corona virus outbreak, government regulations forced me to do woodworking from home. I didn't have much of a workshop, with a lathe and drill press being its only machinery. With the lack of tooling and the lack of a workbench; my home workshop needed attention.
The budget was minimal so I could not buy more machinery. I thought buying power tools and machinery was the correct path as that is what I was taught in school. Whilst on Youtube, I stumbled across a video of an old Japanese TV program, detailing Japanese Sashimono (指物) woodworking;
This method of woodworking seemed to solve most of the problems I had in my home workshop, by using traditional methods and being on the floor. From that video I discovered shooting boards and planing boards (similar to what is shown in the program). The task then, was to make jigs, tools and a unit that would provide the functionality of planing/shooting boards and allow me to work completely on the floor.
Very little research needed to be done as most of the designs could be derived from the above video. The only major deviation would be saw-ponies. A planing board is not entirely suitable and I did not like the method of placing a plank under the piece. I simply used existing Youtube videos as a basis for what the saw-pony would look like;
The shooting board would need to be reversed to suit pull-style planes. To reduce the space needed for these boards, the mitre board should be integrated with the planing board somehow. The construction should be straight-forward.
- Must be easy to use on the floor
- Should be strong enough to tolerate abuse
- The shooting board should be able to guide a perfect mitre joint
- Butts should hold the wood enough for it to be planed
- Should be light enough to be portable
- Should be heavy enough so they are stable
- The planing board should support many different sizes of wood
- The planing board should allow for square shooting of wood pieces
Based on the wood boards available at my hardware store, I chose 300mm to be the width of the planing board with a length of 900mm. The standard length was 1.2m, but the 300x300 off-cut would be used for the mitre shooting board. I had a 90x20mm plank to use for the legs of the planing board, and a 19mm square pine board for the rest of the required material.
The saw ponies used mostly square elements so a 42x42mm post was chosen for most of the components. With offcuts from the square board being used for the other pieces. This post would also be used for the mitre jig or chisel guide, as well as one of the butts on the planing board.
To support different thicknesses of timber; four different sized butts were to be used on the board. Starting at 4mm for planing sheet, then 10mm and 15mm for planing standard timber planks. Ending with the fourth butt at 42mm for planing shooting-board style, a ledge will be added to the board to support a hand plane.
The design for the mitre shooting board was based on the one in the above video. Two boards were to be vertically connected and then have one edge cut at 45°. A larger support plank with a 45° angle would be placed at the end of these boards.
To integrate the shooting board with the planing board, the end plank would be one of the planing boards' legs. Then the board would be attached to the main planing boards' surface.
The tools, joints and material used;
40mm Block Plane
Walnut coloured water-based interior stain
Wood Nail / Peg
2 - 42x42x300mm
4 - 42x42x150mm
4 - 20x70x100mm
1 - 42x42x200mm
1 - 42x42x120mm
1 - 18x300x900mm
2 - 20x90x300mm
2 - 20x300x300mm
1 - 20x150x300mm
1 - 10x20x100mm
1 - 4x20x100mm
1 - 15x30x100mm
The material for the project came from an oak finger-jointed utility board, a 42mm post and pine planks/boards. As I would need the saw-ponies the most in the beginning, I started with them;
Next, I moved onto the mitre chisel guide;
When I began making the chisel guide block, I realised that my design did not allow mitres on both side of a board. Thus, I changed the design so there were mitres on both ends of the block.
Finally, the planing board;
The Japanese philosophy of woodwork (from my point of view) is;
- No mechanical fasteners
- Glue has no place in a good joint
- Plane, don't sand
- A sharp blade is better than a powerful machine
- Invest in what you have, not what you could have
- Be respectful of the material, do not bully the wood
- Wood has a spirit, memories and experiences, let it guide you in your work
- Things built with true craftsmanship should easily outlast its maker
Although I have used glue through the process, I am becoming accustomed to the traditional ways, creating good joints first rather than relying on glue. There were times when I used glue for psychological reasons rather than a mechanical one. Perhaps only two or three joints really required glue.
Surprisingly, almost all design criteria were fulfilled. The only one was the shooting board creating a perfect mitre joint. It was off by about a degree and wasn't quite straight. Nevertheless, the jigs work very well. The planing board is the perfect weight, it doesn't slide around but it is also portable. The butts are easily strong enough to support planing operations.
|Ease of Use||Pass|
|Shooting Board Capability||Pass|
|Hardwood Utility Board 1200x300x18||$45|
|42mm Pine Post 2.4m||$18|