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Shimizu Corporation Tokyo Mokkoujou Arts & Crafts Furnishings

HomeA Woodworker’s SkillsA Woodworker’s Skills

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A Woodworker’s Skills

Example of deformation due to shrinking

Trees are living things. If handled incorrectly, wood can change in ways that affect the quality of the completed work. A simple inspection of the joints and nails in an old wood building can tell us a lot about the skills of the carpenters who built it.

Tokyo Mokkoujou Arts & Crafts Furnishings is a group of highly experienced craftspeople with deep knowledge of every woodworking process, from dressing and treating lumber in order to ensure uniform grain and quality to veneer work, joining, cutting and assembly of building products, and color matching of paints and stains.

Here, the woodworking technologies and skills developed and refined by Shimizu Corporation over its long history are passed on to future generations. This page introduces some of the skills of the craftspeople that are on proud display throughout Tokyo Mokkoujou.

Acceptance and inspection of veneer sheets

Veneer sheets are paper-thin slices of wood measuring 0.2 mm to 1.5 mm thick. Craftspeople inspect and select these sheets one at a time, calculate how many veneer sheets to glue on the base plate to create the plywood products, then cut them so the wood grain and the ends of the sheets are as close to parallel as possible. Key points in this process involve carefully checking for discoloration, cracks, or other problems that might have negative effects on the finished plywood and lining up the veneer sheets so they are perfectly matched.


“Veneering” refers to the process of gluing sheets onto base plates such as plywood or fire-resistant boards. Sheets of different materials have different traits; they can stretch or contract after pressing. Craftspeople arrange the sheets while checking on these traits. For example, when using sheets of a material they expect to stretch after pressing, they position the sheets with a narrow space between them, rather than flush against each other. It takes a lot of experience to know just how much space to leave. This process is thus highly dependent on the skills of individual craftspeople.

Dressing and treatment

“Dressing” refers to cutting round timber and large blocks of timber into usable pieces. Dressing and treatment are needed to ensure that the grain and quality of the material are uniform, and both processes require deep knowledge of lumber and the intuition that comes from many years of experience. For example, the process of curving parts such as pieces of frames and edges—also known as “molding”—requires knowledge of where to start and where to finish grinding, all while keeping the final design in mind. It also requires the skill to choose the correct type of blade from hundreds of available options and to operate the grinder with a clear idea of how the finished piece of lumber should look.

Fitting lumber

While basic assembly methods exist, in practice, due to different forms and materials used for each project, craftspeople need to consider joints and treatment methods case by case while making the necessary adjustments. To a craftsperson, this is both a challenge and the source of great fascination. The pressure to meet delivery times while doing painstaking work puts a premium on being “exacting and quick”—the motto adopted by our craftspeople. Their skills have been widely recognized, including numerous victories in the Skills Grand Prix and the National Skills Competition.

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