I’ve always admired the aesthetics of Japanese woodworking. Every time I visit Portland’s Japanese Gardens, I’m inspired to build my own variation of something I find there. I decided to build two simplified versions of Shinto gates (torii), the traditional entrance to Japanese Shinto shrines. I thought it would be a good project because I wanted to make pegged mortise and tenon joints with my new Festool 1400 router.
I’m making two of these, and they’ll go in our backyard garden. They’ll be built from cedar 4x4’s which I bought in May 2021, when lumber prices were through the roof. Ordinarily, I’d buy the best quality materials for a project like this, but I just couldn’t force myself to pay three times more for straight lumber with no knots. I was going to plane them down anyway, so I just picked the best second quality boards I could find.
I bought a Festool miter saw in 2000, and never looked back. I own lots and lots of tools, but since I focus on fine woodworking and finish carpentry, It seems like I’m always adding to my Festool collection. But, boy, they’re expensive. My new router cost about three times more than I’ve ever paid for a router and, frankly, I never imagined I’d spend that much. But it was so worth it.
There are several ways to do just about anything in woodworking, and these large mortise and tenon joints are no exception. I really enjoyed figuring out how best to make both parts of the joints with the tools I have, with enough precision so that when it came time to assemble everything, it wouldn’t be a fight.
The first one is about twelve feet long and seven feet high, and is made of cedar 4 x 4 and 4 x 6. It went together surprisingly easily. It’s so satisfying when the joints fit together just right: not too tight, not too loose.
One could argue that it’s a lot of work just to make something to string my tomato plants to, and I don’t disagree. On the other hand, I’ve made something that challenged my woodworking skills and creativity, adds a lot to the aesthetic of our backyard, and will be around for a long time. I’m just starting on the second one. I love woodworking.