Sliding Shoji

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Project by beaudex posted 05-17-2011 01:43 PM 2071 views 5 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built these some time ago, they are pine. I use Toshio Odate’s book about making shoji as a basis for this project and high recommend it. There were a few issues in this build (2 miss drilled holes for the horizontal members) but they are hard to notice (except in the pictures).

A couple of interesting things I did with these, first of all they are completely unfinished raw wood, which at first I was concerned about but now am quite happy with. I built them to the exact proportions recommended in Odate’s book, they are an unusual size and I need to recalculate all the ratios.

The panels in the bottom are 1/4 inch thick and are rabbeted into the frame with a 1/2 inch deep rabbet. What is amazing is the amount of shrinkage of the panels over the seasons. the panels shrink well over an inch in the winter, to point that they pop out of the rabbets on one side leaving a gap. I am sure this would be lessened had a included a finish but still an interesting conversation starter.

One other thing I did is to put them on tracks. I did this by using a mortise in the bottom rail and used skateboard bearings as rollers. I love this technique and have used it on other projects, I would be please to chat about these it there is any interest.

The screen portion is built exactly like true shoji where the joints are ‘woven’ together for strength. Very difficult but strong.

-- Derek Tay, Venerate the Tree Design

9 comments so far

View Tag84's profile


573 posts in 2590 days

#1 posted 05-17-2011 06:37 PM

Great job! i really love that japanese style doors.

-- -Thomas -

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4061 days

#2 posted 05-17-2011 07:05 PM

Ichi ban!

-- 温故知新

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2822 days

#3 posted 05-18-2011 06:54 AM

Ichi ban indeed.

Have you thought about using rice paper like the originals did?

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Jim's profile


80 posts in 4011 days

#4 posted 05-18-2011 09:38 AM

Can you explain how you made the bearings/rollers? I also have the book and see you did a great job!

-- Jim,

View beaudex's profile


65 posts in 3572 days

#5 posted 05-18-2011 12:00 PM

BigTiny I did indeed intend for these to have rice paper , in fact I have the paper the problem is I also have a 3 year old …..

Jim – The bearings are are great way to mobilize doors, technique could not be simpler.

It helps to have pre-bought the bearings – look for skateboard bearings although any sealed bearing would do as long as its not too small. Bearings are super accurate, the critical measurements when you buy them are the size of the through hole and the width of the bearing. You will also need a short axle rod for your bearings I use brass but wood or any other metal would do. (make sure the axle fits a close as possible to the through hole on the bearing, luckily the bearings come in the standard sizes)

Locate 2 mortises in the bottom corners of the door. these only need to be as wide as the bearing itself and deep enough for the bearing to slip all the way in. The critical thing is the holes for the axle pins. I drilled them out after the mortise but you could do it prior to cutting the mortise as well (drill these with extreme care – avoid blowout). They need to be located so a very small portion of the bearing protrudes out the bottom (for the door to roll on) and they need to be very accurately located otherwise your door will be tilted. I drill the hole undersized and creep up to the axle diameter so that I have a “press fit” that way I don’t have to worry about glue, the axles get little to no lateral movement so they basically stay put. And that’s it. I could try to post some pictures if there is interest.

-- Derek Tay, Venerate the Tree Design

View Tag84's profile


573 posts in 2590 days

#6 posted 05-18-2011 12:39 PM

Beaudex, is ricepaper like it says a sort of paper? and where would you get it?

-- -Thomas -

View beaudex's profile


65 posts in 3572 days

#7 posted 05-18-2011 01:52 PM


I seem to recall there are a many alternatives, some of which are more durable

-- Derek Tay, Venerate the Tree Design

View baron's profile


10 posts in 2496 days

#8 posted 05-21-2011 12:02 PM

Is your door single lattice or double? Could you paper it if you wanted to do that. I built a shoji door at the end of my shop and darned if I didn’t punch holes in the paper in several places. now I have to replace the paper.
Capt.Cook, HI

-- Baron von App Wood Working

View beaudex's profile


65 posts in 3572 days

#9 posted 05-25-2011 02:10 PM


This is a single lattice door, I could paper it, there is a technique which is detailed in the book I mentioned by Odate but honestly there has to be other sources on the internet. I do know that the paper is very flimsy and there are definite alternatives out there if you look. As I recall they look identical and are much more durable.

-- Derek Tay, Venerate the Tree Design

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