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The Many Uses of Japanese Woodwork

Updated on August 10, 2010

The Many Uses of Japanese Woodwork

Woodworking is almost as old as humanity itself. As long as there have been people, there have been trees that could be cut down and reworked into something else for human use. At first, these things were simple things like cups and spears, but as time went on, people began to use wood for more advanced things like beds, bookcases and even entire houses. So it makes sense that Japanese woodworking is some of the most respected, revered woodworking in the entire world, as Japanese culture is one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world and they’ve had quite a lot of time to perfect their art.

The tools used in Japanese woodworking are some of the most advanced woodworking tools in the world. These tools include things like marking knives, hammers, planes, chisels, spoke shaves, scrapers, axes, adzes and spear pines among many other, machine-driven tools. These tools are all known for having extremely sharp edges that make cutting through wood much easier; even the hand saws come in all shapes and sizes so there is always a tool that’s perfect for a typical job. Japanese woodwork is most famous, however, because it typically uses a special construction method that manages to hide joints from view, something that gives their wood creations extra beauty.

In fact, Japanese woodwork has even helped determine how Japanese houses are constructed. For instance, since most Japanese woodwork includes building things like shelves and other storage spaces like closets directly into the walls so there is no furniture sticking out, very little furniture is needed in a typical Japanese household. However, there are some classes of Japanese furniture that are famous all over the world: the tansu class and the nagamochi classes of furniture.  Furniture included in the tansu class includes things like bolted-door chests, other simple chests and even things like chests-on-chests that look like steps; all of these things are designed to save space in a house. The nagamochi class of furniture, meanwhile, includes things like trunks and other box-like pieces that are a little bigger. There are other types of Japanese woodwork furniture that includes shelves made with doors that have ceremonial purposes like displaying ancient scrolls or things like tea ceremonies.

But what makes Japanese woodwork truly famous in the world isn’t so much the pieces themselves as it is the work that goes into them. In Japan, those who devote their lives to mastering an art – any art – are afforded both deep respect and admiration from the people around them and Japanese woodworkers are no different. They have spent years perfecting their woodworking skills and are often perfectionists that refuse to let a flawed piece leave their stores. This is why Japanese woodwork furniture is so prized.


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