Some Chinese Woodworking

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Blog entry by naomi weiss posted 12-31-2009 10:10 AM 2054 reads 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The woodworking community buzzes about Japanese woodworking (though i wish it would so so more!), but what about Chinese woodworking? It’s hard to find info, but this is close. In this Nova programme, Bashar Altabba, an an engineer from Boston, and Marcus Brandt, a timber framer from Pennsylvania, travel to China to help Professor Tang reconstruct the Rainbow Bridge, built in the Song dynasty. All they have to go on in a 900 year old painting. I feel compelled to warn you that there is a frustrating bit at the end. Brandt extolls the workmanship and joinery of the Chinese in the last 5 seconds of the programme, but you only see it for a minute, and of course you never see that part of the construction! Another side-point: Professor Tang explains that the aesthetic of the reverse curve is attractive because it resembles the body of a woman. I couldn’t help but wonder how the group dynamics would have been effected by having women on the team…and I’ll leave it at that.

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

10 comments so far

View Partridge's profile


296 posts in 3978 days

#1 posted 12-31-2009 03:57 PM

this is very cool.

-- I get out in the shop when I can

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3131 days

#2 posted 12-31-2009 04:30 PM

I like looking at pictures of some of the more ancient Buddhist temples and the Great Wall of China has always interested me. Considering the quality of work that was performed during the old dynasties, kind of sad that China is mostly known today for cheap tools and poor quality construction.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 4013 days

#3 posted 12-31-2009 06:51 PM

Thanks Naomi!

I have seen examples of their craftsmanship in small lacquered boxes and furniture in museums and such before.

David touched on the current attitude toward Chinese craftsmanship; i guess it’s true in any country really if quality is what is demanded and not the lowest possible cost then we could get high quality workmanship. However, as most of us realize, they rarely go hand in hand.

Thanks Again….

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3904 days

#4 posted 12-31-2009 07:05 PM

Thanks for the link. I love Nova.

When I was a kid, Made In Japan meant low quality. Funny how things change. China will have it’s chance again.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3726 days

#5 posted 12-31-2009 08:49 PM

China produces what the market demands. Years ago it was Japan that had the cheap labor. Thanks for the vid, I enjoyed it.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3670 days

#6 posted 12-31-2009 08:54 PM

Thanks Naomi for the link. I like Chinese woodworking, and designs

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

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4182 days

#7 posted 12-31-2009 09:21 PM

very interesting!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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18283 posts in 3698 days

#8 posted 01-01-2010 09:10 AM

Fantastic post!! Thanks. Wonder if it would have held without the fireworks doing their job? :-))

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

View Tony's profile


986 posts in 4052 days

#9 posted 01-01-2010 10:55 AM

Thank you very much for the link – a very interesting presentation

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

View ShawnH's profile


90 posts in 4097 days

#10 posted 01-01-2010 04:46 PM

I have always loved bridges for some reason. I don’t exactly know why. I should have been a structural engineer. That is a fantastic documentary on one of the most beautiful bridges I have ever seen. The Chinese seem to have the perfect combination of form and function in the things they build. Thank you for the wonderful link.

-- ShawnH "In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson

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