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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Thank you for all your comments and compliments.
- Where can you get Japanese Spruce?
I bought the material from Michael Byrd in Japan, contact email: [email protected]. He is very accommodating and reasonable.

- Did you use Bridge City Toolworks multi-saw?
I can't afford Bridge City tools :confused:. I used Japanese flush cutting saw (also called kumiko saw) on Amazon for fraction of the cost and it works very well https://smile.amazon.com/Gyokucho-R...1620439647&sprefix=detail+saw,aps,157&sr=8-52 .

- How did you cut the inlay pieces?
There are a lot of "how to" video on YouTube to make Japanese kumiko. Most of non-Japanese woodworkers make internal "Y" with three individual pieces where traditional Japanese method use one long piece with a slit in the middle and fit the second piece to form "Y". Here are the jigs I used. First picture is for cutting pieces to length, second one for angles.
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Thanks for sharing the info Kitty.

You are so right about the cost of the Bridge City Toolworks Tools being way too expensive! 😂

We all would be thrilled if you shared those details here, in this same thread. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so keep that in mind as you help us understand how you got started and your process.

I suspect some of our senior router experts are already noodling on how to make bulk cuts for this application with a router.

— Bradley
 

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Just finished this Japanese kumiko coffee table. Kumiko panels are made with Japanese spruce and mahogany, all friction fit, no glue. Frame is cherry. A piece of 1/4" thick glass cover goes on the top.
View attachment 398486

View attachment 398487
Beautiful craftsmanship but is it worth all that tedious, high precision labor? Sure we all really appreciate it but does the end user?
 

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Bradley is right you know!! We would all definitely love to have your share your process (photos included hopefully) right here for all to see.
Bautiful table and hard work there.
+ 1 on that. share the process here if possible. thanks.
 

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Hi, Kitty.
That's a wonderful coffee table. A lot of patience is required. A nice project for quarantine times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
As promised, here is my kumiko process.
Step 1 - making frame.
Jointed and planed poplar to 3/4” thickness, used spacer (left) to cut grooves to half thickness deep on table saw, then cut them to 1/8” strips. Note: thickness must be equal to the blade width.
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Step 2 - preparing kumiko strips
I bought Japanese Spruce (hinoki) cutoffs from Michael Byrd [email protected] in Japan. Contact him if you are interested in purchasing the material. Here is the picture of Japanese spruce as received.
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People also use pine, spruce, and other materials. Several YouTube videos use basswood but I didn’t like it because it’s too soft and brittle for friction fit.

Because those cutoff pieces are small, I used band saw to cut them to strips slightly thicker and wider than the final dimension.
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A jig was deviced to plane the strips. The height of opening can be adjusted by using spacers of different thickness, so I can use this one jig to plane the strips to the width and thickness I wanted.
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Step 3 - making diagonal pieces
This is a "length jig". Strips were cut slightly longer than the diagonal line using fine hand saw.
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Then both ends of the strip were cut to 45 degree with this jig. A wide chisel was used at the beginning, later I found this veritas miniature block plane works very well.
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Even with carefully adjusted sawing on table saw, I found not all diagonal lines are identical. Length of each piece had to be adjusted slightly to achieve a tight fit. This was easier than said, one or two plane stroke was sufficient to fit a piece tightly. Here is the picture of all diagonal pieces fitted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Step 4 - making internal "Y"s

Many YouTube video shows 3 pieces of wood form internal “Y”. Traditional Japanese method uses 2 pieces, one long piece folded in the middle and a “keystone” short piece. I used Japanese method.
View attachment 398626
I used two jigs to make Ys, top one was used to cut two ends to 22.5 degrees. Bottom one is to slit the center for folding. One end of the middle keystone piece is 45 degree, the other end is 22.5 degree (mathematically it should be 30 degree but wood has some flex and 22.5 degree jig worked for me.)
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After making many Ys, here is the finished product.
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Such a sense of accomplishment when the pieces fit tightly!!
Was it worth? Definitely for me, a hobbyist.
 

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