The Fuigo Joinery Part I


Welcome to my shop! This is the view stepping through the door. I’ve got a ton of space compared to most and it still feels like I’ve got it crammed to the gills. But I keep on thinking I need a planer and joiner so I know that it can bear with a good deal of optimizing in terms of layout.


When I came back in the shop the other morning this is what had happened to one of the thin 1/4″ panels for my fuigo. Haha, so much for carefully planing it flat. I think the morning sun came in through the east windows and dried the top a bit more. Maybe it will relax a bit if I get some weight on it, but its so thin there is no functional difference in the end besides the possibility of some measurement errors.


Here is my latest marking gauge, THE BEAST, at 16″ long and 24″ of beam. I pulled out some nice 4/4 quarter sawn oak left over from a previous project.  I had a large marking blade lying around that for some reason I spent money to buy. These little blades are so easy to make! The one on my smaller kebiki (to the left in the photo) was made from a sawz-all blade.

This is the first marking gauge that I’ve made with a curve to the top edge. The more comfortable in the hand, the better. As you can see I offset the beam forward of center in the fence. I tried to find a Japanese woodworking video I had seen with a fellow using a large gauge like this, but ended up going on memory as far as the proportion of the fence length to the beam.

The more I think about it the more I like the idea of also making a double beamed marking gauge for mortising.


This is a little chest of drawers I made for storing my chisels. I ran into the problem of not having a marking gauge with a large enough beam to mark the shelf dados from the consistent reference of an edge. I had to use a ruler and ended up with slightly out of parallel edges to my dado. Ever since I’ve been wanting a large panel gauge. It wouldn’t be that much trouble to add an auxiliary beam to my new large panel gauge if I end up doing more work like this.


Before I could get on to marking cuts for the fuigo I needed to make one more thing, a curved edge ruler. This is for setting the inward concavity of the dado for the fuigo sides, producing a curve in the thin side panels at assembly that helps resist the internal pneumatic pressure of the bellows in operation. I really wasn’t sure how this curve should deflect from straight. John Burt says that he planed the curve in with a hand plane, but he doesn’t say how big the plane was. If it was a little block plane the curve could be quite pronounced, like 1/8″ deflection. As it is I used my smoothing plane and produced about 1/16″ over 48″.

I cut the ruler out of a cheap little piece of oak flooring. You can tell from the run of the grain that it will not be the same curve when the weather changes. I better get on the cutting!


Here is the fuigo top being marked on its edge for the curve.  With the curve in the edge I can then use the edge as a reference for my pin style mortising gauge to mark the dado.  I don’t see any reason to remove the curves from the edge, so I didn’t leave any extra material on the width. IMAG0908

For cutting stopped dado I’m lucky to have a router plane, this one from Veritas. I wish that I had a fence on it so that it was a bit easier to use, but I still manage to cut nice dado freehand. Working this tool well is mainly seeing how thick of a shaving you can remove at a pass while retaining control.


For the cross-grain dado I moved to the ground on my planing beam and started by chopping just inside the lines and removing a bit of material with the chisel, to a depth of 1/8″ or so. Then I went back and chopped down the edges of the dado to the line. 1/8″ is enough for me to continue to register the chisel squarely to the face of the panel as I work down to depth.


I know, you’re wondering why I don’t have an azebiki nokogiri for sawing this stuff. I tried to buy one about a year ago from Japan Tool and it ended up on back order. For, get this, eight months. It would have been a longer wait but I ended up cancelling the order.  These days I seek out alternative avenues for buying Japanese tools.


Not as fast as sawing, but it does give nice crisp edges. Gotta love this 48mm bench chisel too. It has a big fat lamination of tool steel, so its slow to sharpen, but I’m glad to have it.

Tomorrow I’m back out working on raising the greenhouse frame. I’ve procured a sufficient quantity of beer and have it cooling in the fridge. Speaking of a cold beer, sounds good now too.

4 thoughts on “The Fuigo Joinery Part I”

  1. Your shop pics brings tears to my eyes, it seems so familiar to me. All shops should be messy, that way everything is sitting where you can see it!

    Your chisel box is exactly as I have always intended to build my own, but never quite got around to it. A while back, Sebastian was pestering me for pictures of my chisel storage box, and I laughingly said that I used an old shoebox. Sadly, it’s true.

    You won’t even need to saw that thin stuff, as your big kebiki/panel gauge can be a warebiki, a splitting gauge! That’s how I use mine, and it’s so awesome. Joint the edge, rip it with the warebiki, then joint again. So fast and easy. Scratch stocks and traditional marking gauges seem a joke now.


    I am very eager to see how the curved and bowed sides work out, as that’s one thing that I’ve not been able to determine exactly, just how much to curve. My plan has been that 1/8″ is too little, but 1/4″ is too much, so it is good to see that we are thinking along the same lines.

    You’re my hero, haha! Way to go!

    1. Thanks Jason! I decided to use less curve to the sides than I originally intended, if only to stay on the conservative side. Who knows, I may have occasion to make another fuigo in the future and hopefully will have a better idea after this first one, to see it in action and gauge the deflection on the sides from the pneumatic pressure. k

      I’m glad you liked the chisel box. I made that when I was first setting up shop here, right after the house was built. It took a good bit of effort to plane out the oak the sides are made from, but I figure I have a fair amount of money in chisels at this point, it makes sense to have a strong place to keep them.

      I’ve tried the warebiki, which is actually why I bought the laminate marking blade in the first place. I was trying to split 3/4″ douglas fir for kumiko in my shoji work. The late wood rings on pine are hard! It just ended up bending the blade from the force I put on it. I guess you need yellow cedar or bass wood to be splitting at that thickness. I’ve hand sawn kumiko in the past (time consuming), so the warebiki really gives you a clue in to what kind of wood is better suited to shoji work, especially the kumiko-zaiku, though I am always tempted to work with the softer hardwoods like walnut, cherry, purpleheart, bubinga, for their colour.

      1. As with nokogiri, proportion of design elements need consideration, so while fuigo come in all sizes, from shoebox to tatara, the tyere is of variable size, and easy flow is key, rather than pressure developed. Also, the fire bed is shaped according to shape-size of finished tool, and to contain heat, and feed in more fuel.

        1. Invaluable information, I can tell that my forge will be quite small for the work that I want to do. My tuyere will be 2″ SCH 40 pipe, I’m going to pay close attention to the fire shape as it relates to forge shape, thank you.

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