We want to make these pieces square, and of identical length. Square is a matter of making sure the saw blade is square and that the cutting guide is square. The trick to getting the pieces of the same length is to clamp them together and to cut them all at once. For the 4x4's, that means making a rough cut in each first, so we have four pieces, each 3-4" longer than we need, from which we'll get our four legs.
Working with wood fresh from the log, this green woodworking project is the perfect introduction to edge tools and wood grain. In the first week you will produce a three-legged stool using buck and “whip”saws for crosscutting the log to length; wedges and froes for splitting out leg stock; drawknife and spokeshaves at a shaving horse for shaping the legs; and using travishers, rounding planes and specialized rasps for shaping the seat.
My name is Takami Kawai and I'm a traditional Japanese carpenter and architect with over 16 years of experience in sustainable design and construction. As much as conditions allow, I enjoy using traditional Japanese techniques. My experience includes working for the world renown, Ise Jingu Grand Shrine. I have also hosted numerous presentations on traditional Japanese woodworking. Now, I run a small construction firm, Suikoushya, which specializes in the restoration of traditional Japanese houses.
If you decide upon construction lumber, you want kiln dry lumber. Green lumber will warp on you as it drys. Dig through the stacks and pick out the straightest, cleanest pieces. Generally, the boards that are sitting loose on the stack are those that other people left behind, as they sorted through looking for better. Be prepared to move them out of the way, and to dig down to the better stock. Be nice, though, and put everything back when you're done.
After I left the magazine for a new job, I did all of my woodworking in my small two-car garage, but it was a struggle. Power, lighting, and temperature control were limited. And because I shared space with our cars I was always moving machines around, often while in the middle of a project. On top of that, my tool and machine collection had long since eclipsed the space. For all these reasons, fixing up the garage wasn’t an option. My finished basement is a family room, so it was out, too. An addition to the home or a stand-alone building would have been too expensive. I had to find a better path to a shop.