The Fuigo Joinery: Part III


I finally decided to try a whole systems approach to working with the kanna and nokogiri. My planing beam is angled, my saw horses are low, and my butt stays cool on the ground. I love how much space I just opened up, the floor is much  more visible.  Now, I’m not sayin I’ll never get to making a western style bench, but the possibilities of the tategu’s work space must be explored if I want to really understand the efficiencies to be gained .

At the moment most of my hand tools are hanging or sitting on my pair of trestles, but they’ll soon be moved as well. With my tools in an honest to god tool box or hanging on the wall I’ll once again have use of the trestles and the space for a couple of planing  beams that will allow others to work in the more traditional standing bench fashion.


Now it is live or die when it comes to cutting while bent over at some odd angle. It is frustrating and difficult at times to limit myself in this way, but in the end will be liberating to have the skill not to need a bench vise.


Haha, this f**king fly. You know, there’s always something trying to distract you. Hopefully you don’t swat at the flies that land on you with your hand still holding a bench chisel, I’ve done that.  This insolent little insect posed for a couple of photographs before I got back to work. Speed in craft is more about working in a very focused manner than merely moving about quickly. Something is always trying to ruin your ability to stay calm enough to concentrate, this fly personifies that very well. Stopping to take a picture of the thing that’s distracting you? Evidently I’m hopeless, but perhaps you can commiserate.


Oh, right! I’m supposed to be writing a post about the fuigo joinery…Ok! I finished the sides, more cross-grain dado and routering.


This is about the most complicated bit of joinery on the whole thing.


For the little flapper valve covers I marked the dimensions of the opening it covers so that it could be used as a template for marking the holes on the sides.

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The flapper hinges across the string holes by tapering the end. I wasn’t sure just how much to allow them to hinge, but its something that’s easy to change if it feels like there’s too much resistance to the movement of air.


The battens that form the feet on the bottom were screwed on from the bottom. For the top I secured them with screws from the beneath to keep things looking nice. Both the bottom and top pieces had warped a little and these battens will go a long way towards keeping things flat. Perhaps if I build another they can be attached with sliding dovetails.


The alignment of a lot of my joinery was not so great, necessitating quite a bit of fitting to get things to line up properly. For some reason it didn’t occur to me to make a story stick for the critical dimensions lengthwise or across the short edge. With shoji work it is really straight forward to mark pieces together all at once, or to use a frame piece to mark the associated kumiko. With wider paneling it doesn’t make sense to mark them together, but a story stick will keep you from measuring twice and marking slightly different each time. My biggest error presented on the thin side panels, where I used my sashigane to square the edges. I failed to check that the length was the same top and bottom, and the top edge ended up being a bit too long for a good fit. Good lesson to learn, I simply don’t have enough experience with tansu.


As a result, when it came time to put the top on, it didn’t fit! I had to widen the groove in the top that houses one of the short edges by about 1/32″. It will leave a gap on the inside, the gods of joinery will mock me .


None the less it is starting to take shape! I can’t believe I thought this thing might be too small at 36″ long. At this point I’m ready to cut the glass that sits across the bottom and start thinking about what I want to use as gasket material for the piston head. Its exciting when you finally get to put the stack of carefully cut parts together, it has presence and life. I can already imagine using it, the gentle woosh and click of the valves.

The lesson today was definitely to use a story stick, every time, all the time, whenever you can. It doesn’t matter what the hell the measurements are so long as they are consistent.

5 thoughts on “The Fuigo Joinery: Part III”

  1. Holy crap dude!

    You got it! Excellent!

    Every now and then I think, “Yeah, a bench with a vise would be nice.”, but it’s a rare thing. Mostly it is because I’m not thinking and am just fighting/working too hard. I love working from the floor, but need to remind myself to sit down fairly often still. Old habits die hard. I can’t imagine actually WANTING to stand at a bench all day, working around that huge piece of workshop furniture. Yuck! Funny how preferences change with the types of tools being used. I’m definitely going to have a sit down forge setup.

    1. Thanks guys! I still have a little joinery for the bird house on the side, you better believe I’m going to mark it directly from the bottom board. I’m still disappointed I didn’t think to make a story stick for this thing, it would have been both faster and more accurate. I’m wondering if I should oversize the hole for the steel tuyere pipe so that it can be sealed around with some kind of insulating refractory clay, protect the wood from the heat.

  2. Looking nice!

    I am loving the low to the ground workbench. I screwed my 1.5″ thick slab to a 4by4 and a 2by4, and it barely moves, I’m surprised! I think the planing beam and the low horse are a great system for small spaces, or even spaces where you might not be staying for long.

    Are you going to work sitting down at the forge?

    1. Thanks, and I’ll definitely be working sitting down at the forge, if for no other reason that its easier to build a forge on the ground.

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