Mesmerizing GIFs Illustrate the Art of Traditional Japanese Wood Joinery — All Done Without Screws, Nails, or Glue

Tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese car­pen­try, whether used to build a din­ner table or the entire house con­tain­ing it, does­n’t use screws, nails, adhe­sives, or any oth­er kind of non-wood­en fas­ten­er. So how do its con­struc­tions hold togeth­er? How have all those thou­sands of wood­en hous­es, tables, and count­less oth­er objects and struc­tures stood up for dozens and even hun­dreds of years, and so solid­ly at that? The secret lies in the art of join­ery and its elab­o­rate cut­ting tech­niques refined, since its ori­gin in the sev­enth cen­tu­ry, through gen­er­a­tions and gen­er­a­tions of steadi­ly increas­ing mas­tery — albeit by a steadi­ly dwin­dling num­ber of mas­ters.

“Even until recent times when car­pen­try books began to be pub­lished, mas­tery of these wood­work­ing tech­niques remained the fierce­ly guard­ed secret of fam­i­ly car­pen­try guilds,” writes Spoon & Tam­ago’s John­ny Strat­e­gy. If you find it dif­fi­cult to grasp how sim­ply cut­ting two pieces of wood in a cer­tain way could unite them as if they’d grown togeth­er in the first place, have a look at a Twit­ter feed called The Join­ery, run by a young enthu­si­ast who has col­lect­ed a great many of these car­pen­try books. He’s used them, in com­bi­na­tion with mechan­i­cal design soft­ware skills pre­sum­ably honed in his career in the auto indus­try, to cre­ate ele­gant­ly ani­mat­ed visu­al expla­na­tions of Japan­ese car­pen­try’s tried-and-true join­ery meth­ods.

Arch­dai­ly points to the work of archi­tect Shigeru Ban as one exam­ple of how this “unique­ly Japan­ese wood aes­thet­ic” has sur­vived into the mod­ern day, but the man behind The Join­ery imag­ines even more ambi­tious pos­si­bil­i­ties: “3D print­ing and wood­work­ing machin­ery has enabled us to cre­ate com­pli­cat­ed forms fair­ly eas­i­ly,” he tells Spoon & Tam­a­go. “I want to orga­nize all the join­ery tech­niques and cre­ate a cat­a­log of them all,” so that any­one with the tools might poten­tial­ly make use of their beau­ty and stur­di­ness in hith­er­to unimag­ined new con­texts. And so anoth­er tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese craft that has looked doomed to out­mod­ed obliv­ion, what with all the more advanced and effi­cient fab­ri­ca­tion and con­struc­tion tech­niques devel­oped over the past 1400 years, may well thrive in the future. To learn more about the art of join­ery, you’ll want to explore this 1995 book, The Com­plete Japan­ese Join­ery.

via Arch­Dai­ly

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Japan­ese Wood­work­ing Mas­ters Cre­ate Ele­gant & Elab­o­rate Geo­met­ric Pat­terns with Wood

20 Mes­mer­iz­ing Videos of Japan­ese Arti­sans Cre­at­ing Tra­di­tion­al Hand­i­crafts

The Mak­ing of Japan­ese Hand­made Paper: A Short Film Doc­u­ments an 800-Year-Old Tra­di­tion

Watch a Japan­ese Crafts­man Lov­ing­ly Bring a Tat­tered Old Book Back to Near Mint Con­di­tion

The Art of Col­lo­type: See a Near Extinct Print­ing Tech­nique, as Lov­ing­ly Prac­ticed by a Japan­ese Mas­ter Crafts­man

Japan­ese Crafts­man Spends His Life Try­ing to Recre­ate a Thou­sand-Year-Old Sword

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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