Traditional Chinese Woodworking #8: The Huntington Gardens

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Blog entry by chscholz posted 03-16-2012 05:10 AM 11794 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Glue-less edge joints Part 8 of Traditional Chinese Woodworking series no next part

Last weekend I had the the distinct pleasure to visit the Huntington Gardens in LA, CA.
Unfortunately the Japanese garden was closed for maintenance.
Wandering through the gardens we stumbled into the brand new Chinese garden. Chinese garden design is a thousands of years old, highly sophisticated art form that I don’t understand as good as nothing about.

I am sure almost everybody knows the shape of the Chinese roofline work.

or Chinese lattice work.

The Huntington Gardens also feature exquisitely carved panels such as this one

But it gets really exciting when you start looking at the joinery up close.
Just as expected, no glue, not nails, no pegs, no shortcuts but honest joinery!

Here’s the bummer: the lattice work is dovetailed!

And look at the joinery of the huge arch! Simply amazing!

We talked to a security guard that was walking around the garden. He told us that all the woodwork was pre-cut in China and then shipped to LA where Chinese woodworker hand-assembled the structures.

The Huntington Gardens also had a Greene and Greene exhibit in one of the exhibit halls. I must say, after seeing the Chinese joinery, what Green and Green produced looks rather crude and unfinished. Cloud-lift rails at the wrong locations, the generous use of Buddhist fu symbols, this all looks like a copy of classical Chinese style elements.

And if you mosey down to LA Chinatown and read the historic markers that the city (?) put up one can not help but wondering where one should draw the line between being inspired by great artist on copying other people’s work.

In any case, a visit to the Chinese Garden a the Huntington Gardens is high recommended for any woodworker interested in exploring finely crafted outdoors structures.

-- Chris Scholz, Arlington, TX,

9 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3643 days

#1 posted 03-16-2012 06:56 AM

beautiful gardens. always a pleasure to walk around. thanks for the reminder

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Brit's profile


7373 posts in 2837 days

#2 posted 03-16-2012 07:29 AM

Very inspiring. Thanks for posting.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Ken90712's profile


17556 posts in 3183 days

#3 posted 03-16-2012 07:54 AM

Beautiful, I need to go there one day.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2946 days

#4 posted 03-16-2012 12:36 PM

NIce post! I love the Huntington Library, one of the most beautiful places in Southern California. Haven’t been since I moved to Georgia six years ago.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2688 days

#5 posted 03-16-2012 01:31 PM

Fantastic post! That joinery is incredible. Especially incredible that it didn’t have to be:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3146 days

#6 posted 03-16-2012 02:23 PM

woohoo, another installment of Chinese woodworking. That joinery is amazing. Thanks for posting.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2534 days

#7 posted 03-16-2012 08:28 PM

Wow, that is unbelievable. I should go there tomorrow…Don’t they have a Sam Maloof exhibit there right now?

-- I never finish anyth

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1246 posts in 1708 days

#8 posted 10-22-2014 08:50 PM

Just read through this blog series and enjoyed every word. A great story about the old woodworker and a lot of new, exiting information.
Thanks for writing!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View DallasToth's profile


1 post in 343 days

#9 posted 06-13-2017 04:55 AM

Fantastic post that joinery is incredible.

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