Friday, December 13, 2013

December Current Events

 Thank-you  and mahalo for visiting the 
Matsu Kaze Woodworking


 Mango is a very sweet wood common here in Hawaii. It makes beautiful furniture and architectural woodwork.  It's not so much planted for it's wood as it's fruit and is usually harvested from
residential areas. I have done a few pieces with it and enjoyed it's workability and beautiful figure.

mango chadansu 2011 12x26x30

Over the past few weeks we have been quite busy getting wood put away for next years and there after's work. I had picked up a nice deck of mango logs from a local tree cutter, finally made some time to get them milled. We make tansu, moldings, and architectural woodwork with mango. It's popularity here is only second to Koa, and probably only beats out Milo because of it's availability .

2011 mango isho kasane dansu 18x38x40

Picking up these mango logs was nice and easy this time around as I only had to back my trailer up to get them hoisted by crane on to it. Sure beats breaking them down in to cants
on rough terrain and dragging out or the bushes by hand! So I was very please with the ease and expedience of it all.

 The poor trailer. It's actually rated for 3500lbs. I guess I test the limits of most things.
I see a larger  truck and trailer in the not so distant future......
But I am exceptionally happy with the work I get from my Taco and trailer.
This log is about 11 feet long and is all of 3500lbs if not more .

 Here are some more pics of the mango logs.... 
 and yeah that's me, sorry I can not take a serious picture, never have. But it gives scale to the size of the logs. The average is about 24~30 butte diameter.

As you can see they can be quite fluted and winding.  The log to the center right  is a big Y shape or "crotch" setcion. The log is way too big for the mill and so I needed to first cut it into two halves with a chainsaw.

 Then off to the woodmiser....

This lot of mango has some curl figure which is what we are after here. But it will be most prevalent on a quatersawn face.

 pictured above is quarter sawn mango with a garnet shellac finish.

But with logs that are oddly shaped and twisted it's exceptionally hard to follow the quarter. The pith meanders, and there is much waste and many short pieces accumulate. 

Now the log is edged and squared below, ready to start taking off some boards.

The outside of the cants and logs yield some funny abstract shapes, like fish!
 After the  wane is cut away you can start to see some really nice material emerge.
Above we have beautiful high figure mango that will make beautiful drawer fronts and door panels.

Below is a flitch of some 20" wide boards that will be some tasty single piece tansu sides and tops.

 Here is another hard cut log. 
It needs to be cut into three smaller logs sections for the mill.
Interesting how it grew back into itself.

You would think this will be great figured areas but they are very low yield. You only net about 50% at best. There is run out grain in every direction making very pretty but unstable wood prone to all kine warp. It will all be shorter lengths. Short pieces will make great cabinet parts and instrument material for ukulele and guitars.

 And yet another funky log.
These logs tend to be very time consuming to get  select dimensional lumber from. I will get a couple wides in the middle then the rest will be narrows and shorts.

This proceeded along in the same manner till we got to the bottom of the pile.
 All the mango was milled with projects in mind, 4/4 for moldings and drawer faces, 5/4 for extra wides in the 20" range as they will probably cup an entire 1/4" so you need to plan ahead for that. I also cut plenty of 10/4 for table legs and such, it also will allow me to resaw it again if need be for thinner parts like door panels. I try to keep my options open as much of this I will not use for a couple years from now.

Why do I do this?????? 
     It's a heck of a lot of work until after dark most days. Each day you need to stop early enough to spray your fresh cut lumber for bugs and get it stickered. The powder post beetles come out most every night about an hour before dark and if the fresh cut lumber and log ends are not treated with an insecticide they will be inundated with the PPB. 

       I do all this because you can not find a boards much over 12 to 14 " wide at most any mills.  I get guys telling me that "wide boards are too heavy to carry and who wants something that wide anyway".... I DO!!
       Much of the colonial furniture made in the US started out using a single plank for the tops and sides of the chests and dressers. Two board table tops were not uncommon.  Quality antique tansu used single piece tops and sides.  In both countries as the old growth forests were depleted there were two board sides and single piece tops. Then three pieces sides and two piece tops. Now you even see table tops with many narrow boards glued together to make up the width. It  never appealed to me. 
To me part of the charm of older work was the use of wide boards. It's just hard to compete with nature.
It's one of the aspects of a bygone era that I enjoy incorporating in my tansu.
  A few parting images....

Some tamarind we cut  ....
starting to spalt, now growing mushrooms...

podocarpus,  a Japanese Yew.....

Persian walnut?? very very hard. Smaller diameter log, maybe 16".

heart wood was very small but I liked the scattered dots on the sap wood.

 There was also some really nice crotch sections of mango...
20" wide!! We ended up with several boards in this flitch.

I am so excited to use some of this. 

We also cut some 800 feet of port orford cedar from cants we brought in from East Fork Lumber Co. in Oregon. We have available 18" wide quartersawn old growth  POC. And PLENTY of 12~16" QS in length up to 10'. I also cut some 6x6 that would make nice shoin style tokobashira,  gate posts, etc.. Plenty of shoji material, but I use much of it for drawer boxes and cabinet backs in my tansu work. 

The plank below is 18" wide and 30~50 rings per inch.  Truly a rare specimen. These will be resawn for panels to make matching two piece hip boards for shoji  and itado after they dry. I have another 250bft of tight grain old growth dimensional dry and ready for projects.

 Oh yeah, almost forgot the Koa. Jeez, that's what we were here doing to begin with!
O.k. Just a few pics to wrap up..... didn't I say that 15 pics ago??LOL

 I can not begin to express how hard you have to look for a koa log that will yield boards of this length and width. I was able to get three logs from a lot being cleared in Kaumana. One ended up being 50% rotted.
But lucked out with this one. They all were older and dying with few green leaves left on the branches.
 This log had a long bark enclosure and a limb on one side. 

Most times you would cut off the crotch section but I needed  some 10' boards 18" wide.  You can never accurately tell the extent of defect caused by rot which this log had a bit coming up from the roots. Also end checking should not be under estimated so I cut thru the crotch section to get my wides leaving the boards long. This givins me more creative control down the road when it's time to cut the board to a near finished dimension  after drying avoiding whatever defects that pop up

22" wide and 14 feet long!

 I was pretty happy with myself this day.

 I was able to eek out some nice pieces with stress curl from some koa crotches and elbows as well...

Even the stump didn't go waste. I cut every small billet I could and then blocked up the rest for eventual turning material....
This is not easy work. But it's the only way you going to get it.
Lots of waste of course but plenty of good pieces for that can be incorporated in smaller tansu projects, boxes and instruments.

 Plenty of boogymen.... these are big lava stones grown up in the root mass.

My good pal Po. Faithful shop dog. Loves to help. Always hamming it up.

 This will make some nice ukuleles....

Nothing left but the bones...

It was all great fun and much sweet material come from the fruits of our labor.
We cut about 3000 board feet in 30 hours. This of course doesn't including trucking , handling and stickering. It's a labor for the love of wood.

It is all stickered and covered air drying. Hawaii being about 80~85 degrees most days and 65% humidity is perfect drying weather for wood. Combined with a constant trade wind, 4/4 koa will actually come down to about 15% moisture content in only 5~6 months here in Hilo. I then dry it further in a  300bft. solar kiln I built. It stays in the kiln until it reaches 8%. Which is a little lower than the equilibrium moisture content of wood used on the inside the house in most of the drier areas here. 8/4 still takes a good year for AD.

Thanks for stopping by and seeing what we do to bring you the very best materials for your 
uniquely handcrafted Tansu!

A hui hou........

 M A S T U K A Z E   W O O D W O R K I N G
s i m p l e  d e v i c e s  f o r   i n s p i r e d  l i v i n g 

H   I   L   O       H   A   W   A   I   I

find me on the web at

There is no tansu available other than what is currently under construction.
Pictures of current work and release dates available upon request.
Please contact me for information on available work coming out soon.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Work For November

Matsu Kaze Woodworking

Aloha everyone. Much going on in around the shop and Hilo town lately.
I completed another Isho yaro, a single section tansu this month.
It measures 17x34x36.
It is made of some exceptionally nice flat sawn koa. Most of the koa milled in Hawaii is quarter sawn. Quartering, will give you the best chance of catching a glimmer of curl figure. A little bit of curl isn't worth losing the some of the gorgeous swirling figure that a flat sawn koa board can exhibit.
I flat saw a large portion of the logs I bring in. This particular tree was pretty lively in figure. The flatsawn faces are filled with circular swirls and little babbles. The top drawer has a splash of  little bird's eye that looks like the Milky Way, 

and then as you can see, the whole piece has a ruffled golden crushed velvet look.

It features antique hand forged warabite hardware on the front. I am guessing that they were pre Meiji. Making them about 150 years old or so, beautiful Edo era hand work.
Here they are restored, in place.

They are really sweet. You can see the hammer trace and they have a nice shape to them. They are bit wider than tall with a long slow curve at the bottom.
I fabricated the straps and oil blackened the handles. The back plates are newer, from Japan.

The Kendon buta, a lift out door, or drop fit door, to your choosing, is of a fancy design.
I added the bead detail to the inside edge which I had not seen on any tansu before with this 
particular frame cut out. I think it came out nice.

The pull on the door is made from iron and deer antler donated by an axis deer from Lanai. I've made a few of these, this one came out pretty good. I like the door panel alot. It's flatsawn curl ( not common). It was a bit of stress curl at the end of an otherwise ugly duck of a board. I had spotted it in the flitch early on and saved it aside for this purpose.
Here's peek behind the curly door......

Another two small drawers with contrasting hardware in the Hirute style.
Sometimes, as is the case here, I configure the kendon buta with a secret catch .
You can see it operate here.....


So far in the pics I hope you can see the deep inner golden glow Koa has to offer. This is , to me, the uniqueness of the material. Some woods come close, but the gold, only with koa.

The base in the next pic, is mortise and tenoned together, all from the same tree as the cabinet. 

I enjoy how the light changes the feel of the cabinet throughout the day.
It's bright, shimmers gold in the morning sun, and mellows with the soft afternoon ambient light.

 The finish is a hand rubbed blonde shellac polish. It gives it a very vintage look. The whole piece feels very endearing, handsome, analog, heirloom-esque. You can tell at once it is hand crafted with much attention to detail. It feels old but is clearly new. Like a fresh antique.

If your still reading on I will show some process pics now.

 Hmmm... let's go way back. Here we have the log cut to boards. Now washed, just before being stickered for a year. You will probably see the top of the cabinet....

I've taken to collecting wide pieces. They always look better than a glue up. Hard to compete with nature.

Here's a couple pics of shop work....

This is the corner joinery. The carcass is thru dovetailed together. But when you have an edge profile that needs a mitered corner, such as is the case here with the slight radius on the edges. The miter being a weak glue joint, I reinforce them now with a small blind dovetails. "It's what's on the inside that counts" eh?

 And the female part...

Here we are , cabinet assembled, drawers fitted, and finish planed.

The silver oak is exceptional drawer material. It really should serve a higher purpose. It polishes nice, makes nice joinery, medium density, and contrasts with the Koa making the half blind dovetails pop! I hand picked 300 bft out of 2000bft just for drawer boxes. All the drawers have high lace wood figure if not wide abstract banding like old school quartersawn white oak popular on mission furnishings.

The drawer bottoms are of solid silver oak too( no plywood bottoms here!!) as well as the back of the cabinet which is frame and panel. But in these places I use flat sawn.

The outside was then finished with hand planes. Very glassy smooth in appearance. You can see reflections of machinery on the surface even without a top coat.

 My little kendon buta door dry fitted together.

Here's a happen stance before and after blackening of the hardware picture. It just happened I forgot one.... ooops!

Here's the whole suite restored ...

I make the straps now. Even the best hardware I find has poor straps.
They will always need fine fitting before mounting anyway. 
So now they are all forged from 1/8" round stock. That way I can harden the knuckle but leave the tangs softer for bending when mounting. They are much stouter than the over the counter variety. And they taper two ways which is the proper way anyhow.

My living room re-purposed as a finishing studio. Best light under cover of roof, so, it just has to happen. I have a very tolerant wife.

Here the cabinet sits for a week~10 days while the finish cures enough for rubbing out.
Many people do not rub out their finishes. This is really where you can correct any sheen inconsistencies and dial in the proper sheen for the piece. This isho yaro went out as a satin finish. I stopped with a 4F pumice powder.

The hardware was all installed in the same manner as covered in previous posts.

  a few parting images......


Thanks for taking the time, see you again I hope.
This is new work. The Harbor Gallery in Kawaihea, Hawaii
has made this piece available exclusively thru them.
You can contact Gunner or Elli at 808-882-1510
Or  go to their site

I am starting an isho yaro. It will be a largish piece. Several drawers for clothing and personal storage.
If interested in owning it please contact me now. Available in 8 weeks-ish.

simple  devices  for  inspired  living

H    i   l   o   ,   H    a    w    a    i    i

There is currently no completed works for sale. Contact me for info on forth coming tansu. I am not accepting commissions unless they are of special interest and/or you are currently an owner of my work.
My work appears annually at The Winter Wood Show at Harbor Gallery and their Summer Wood Show. 
January and July respectively. If you would like to be updated as to new work please email with your contact info and you will be put on the list. Thank-you for taking the time to consider my work.