Japanese Woodworking Techniques: Joinery

A key characteristic of Japanese joinery is the avoidance of nails, screws and other metal hardware in the creation of a solid connection between two pieces of wood.

While Japanese joinery includes a variety of joints, these can be thought of as belonging to one of two basic types: straight joints (tsugi), in which two pieces of wood are combined to create a single, long piece of wood, and angle joints (shiguchi), which are used to join pieces of wood at an angle.

This video shows a tsugi joint being created in a woodworking workshop in Hida and demonstrates the precision and craft for which Japanese woodwork is famed. The video illustrates how specific tools help deliver the precision and strength of the final joint: from the sharply honed chisels to the distinctive saw, which cuts on the pull stroke, meaning the saw does not buckle or flex as it cuts.

Wooden joints continue to be used today when there is concern that metal hardware may break or cause wood to rot due to condensation.

Discover more about Japanese woodworking techniques in the Hida region in our exhibition The Carpenters' Line