Mind-Blowing Japanese Dovetails

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Blog entry by Blake posted 12-20-2009 07:47 PM 9715 reads 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I came across this eBay listing today. Its a book Traditional Japanese Carpentry Ornate Miter Dovetails. I wish it weren’t $100 because it looks amazing. I would love to own it (hint hint, Santa).

Anyway, here is a sample from the eBay posting I thought you might like to see it:







It just goes to show what a big world it is out there. There are so many different cultures, philosophies, methods, etc. out there that westerners don’t usually come in contact with (and I don’t just mean woodworking). I love being exposed to a different way of looking at things. I guess seeing these dovetails for the first time was like yoga for the mind. It really stretched my brain! It gives me a lot to think about for future joinery.

Happy woodworking!

-- Happy woodworking!

12 comments so far

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3353 days

#1 posted 12-20-2009 07:55 PM

something about it dont look right to me. Seems our way is much more efficient, When looking at the first picture ( cover shot) The top part of the joint don’t look right. The end grain is missing!. Maybe its just me but that seems wicked hard to accomplish if it is’nt a photoshop job.

Cool find though.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3285 days

#2 posted 12-20-2009 08:04 PM

they always have nice stuff the japanease, if u look through the site they have abook called japanease joinery. it might have dovetails like this or atleast some other joinery u might like want to try and mimic. i want to get this book myself and see what it’s about too. i figure it’s only $30 and if u don’t like it return it. but thanks for the heads up.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3285 days

#3 posted 12-20-2009 08:07 PM

as a matterafact i think i might get one of these myself thanks again B.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3195 days

#4 posted 12-20-2009 08:09 PM

Wow, that is cool, but could I have the patience to do a think like that? What if I broke of a little pin or something, how far could a broken board with japaneese mitered dovetails fly from my garage?
Love to look at stuff like this. Thanks for sharing.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3267 days

#5 posted 12-20-2009 08:15 PM

Wow very interesting…but I am not conversant in japanese…it looks like there is contrasting keys inserted…as the dovetails don’t appear to be of the same wood specie? Those cutting diagrams look very complicated…I would hope there is a english translation included….all in all though a very innovative idea for decorative joinery.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3684 days

#6 posted 12-20-2009 09:06 PM

My brain hurts…thanks Blake : ) They are beautiful , but I’m scared to try regular dovetails !!! LOL

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Tony's profile


986 posts in 4027 days

#7 posted 12-20-2009 09:16 PM

getneds – If you look at the photograph carefully and read Blake’s description, you will see that the joint is in fact mitred and dovetailed at the same time. definitely not for the beginner, but just think of the feeling of self achievement if you managed to perfect this method.

Blake - this seems rather expensive, maybe one of our fellow LJs from Japan could give more information on how to source this book from Japan.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4397 days

#8 posted 12-20-2009 10:23 PM

Very unique at least to the Western mind. One of the pictures seems to have a locking piece for it.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3574 days

#9 posted 12-20-2009 10:28 PM

Here’s one for less money but I don’t know if it has dovetails.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3765 days

#10 posted 12-20-2009 11:53 PM

hmm… reminds me of the bermuda dovetails. i like bermuda dovetails much better though.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18268 posts in 3672 days

#11 posted 12-21-2009 03:38 AM

Trouble is, like some of the wiring diagrams I’ve figured out over the years, the instructions are in Japanese :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View fissionchips's profile


99 posts in 2455 days

#12 posted 01-15-2012 10:21 PM

Amazing book! It seems to go for about $40 from online stores like this, but it’s not sold directly by Amazon Japan which is the only easy way I know of for us English speakers to buy Japanese books.

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