Introduction to Japanese Timber Framing


Student Level

Advanced beginner to intermediate. Some experience with woodworking hand tools required.  


Course Description

This one week course will introduce students to the basics of Japanese timber framing. Topics will include: layout using center lines and story pole (kensao); the Japanese proportional system (kiwari);  Japanese mortice and tenon joinery (tsugi) with draw-pegs; methods of cutting out (kizamu) timber frame joinery, both modern and traditional; the unique aesthetics of the Japanese timber frame, focussing on shoin and sukiya styles.


Students will gain experience in using Japanese pull saws (nokogiri: ryoba, dozuki, etc.) chisels (nomi), and planes (kanna) in cutting out a small Japanese timber frame structure which, time permitting, we will assemble at the completion of the course. 


Instruction on sharpening methods for Japanese chisels and planes will also be given on an ad hoc basis.



We will have a supply of tools for students who don't have them, but bringing a basic kit of hand tools is highly suggested. The following tools will be most useful:

Japanese pull saws

Japanese or western chisels (espec. timber chisels and slicks), 

Hand planes (kanna) are a plus, especially rabbet planes for cleaning up joinery. 

Measuring, marking and layout tools (Japanese or Western).  

Sharpening stones (water stones)


Suzuki-ya Tools ( is kindly offering our students a 10% discount on tools, including chisels, saws, planes and ceramic sharpening stones. Suzuki san has more than 20 years' experience dealing in high quality Japanese woodworking tools and provides amazing customer service.