Japanese wood equivalents

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by Texchappy posted 04-29-2012 06:06 PM 1073 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2184 days

04-29-2012 06:06 PM

Since I’m getting my first go of Japanese Hand tools, I was wondering what would be woods similar to what the Japanese use that would be available around America? To sat it another way, what are wood commonly used for different projects (furniture, decorative, utilitarian boxes, etc) that there is something similar here to use to recreate?

-- Wood is not velveeta

7 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4901 posts in 3924 days

#1 posted 04-29-2012 06:17 PM

Might need to restate your question.
I don’t see that a wood specie is relevant to the Japanese tooling.


View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2184 days

#2 posted 04-29-2012 06:36 PM

Except for the whole Japanese tools not being able to cut hard woods debate, it doesn’t. Kept trying to find a way to ask what I was thinking; let me try again.

What are the woods that the Japanese use in their woodworking? What would be similar woods that would be available in America?

-- Wood is not velveeta

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2961 days

#3 posted 04-29-2012 10:48 PM

Different forms of conifers (pine, hemlock, fir etc) and some oak (Although their oaks are a bit different) would be the predominant ones.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2448 days

#4 posted 04-29-2012 10:52 PM

I only know of one because of my specific interest in vintage Japanese swords. Typically, wood for a hilt (tsuka) and scabbard (saya) would be carved from a native Japanese wood called honoki. Poplar is the closest thing we have here.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2886 days

#5 posted 04-29-2012 11:07 PM

I know the walnut from Japan doesn’t like it over here. This is evidenced by the Winchester Arms problems starting with 1964.(stocks splitting etc.)

-- Life is good.

View djwong's profile


176 posts in 3183 days

#6 posted 04-30-2012 01:43 AM

If you are looking at similar softwoods, Port Orford cedar, Alaskan cedar, and Western Red cedar, would be appropriate. Generally, I have not had any difficulty with japanese saws, planes, or chisels, on domestic hardwoods like white and red oak, birch, and walnut. My wood stash has been limited to those species.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

View Loren's profile (online now)


10248 posts in 3611 days

#7 posted 04-30-2012 03:11 AM

They used a lot of oak, ash maybe. I don’t know but they might
have maples over there. The Japanese Urushi finish is often
associated with open-grained woods like oak in which it can
be striking. Look at museum quality Tansu chests.

They used a lot of softwoods and soft hardwoods in architectural
work. They never dovetail drawers. There’s a lot to it. There’s
a book called “Tansu” which is informative, and the book by
Toshio Odate has a lot of authentic insights in it about woods
and working methods.

You can easily break fine saw teeth and Japan chisel edges working
harder woods. The quality and toughness of better entry-level
Japan tools is pretty good though and a few broken teeth does
not ruin a saw… it gives it character and when you break a tooth
you learn to be more attentive to technique right quick.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics