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Woodcraft of Harrisburg

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Contact Us

Phone:
717-409-8173
Fax:
717-409-8924
Email:
harrisburg-retail@woodcraft.com

3831 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17109
USA

Hours of Operation

sunday 12 PM - 5 PM
monday 9 AM - 7 PM
tuesday 9 AM - 7 PM
wednesday 9 AM - 7 PM
thursday 9 AM - 9 PM
friday 9 AM - 7 PM
saturday 9 AM - 6 PM

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The Art of Kumiko

The Japanese art of Kumiko is a precise method of assembling wood pieces without glue or nails. Individual slats are cut and fitted together using a saw, hand plane, or chisel. The art form was developed around 600 AD and has traditionally been used in wall hangings and room dividers. I had wanted to add something new to my boxes and I found Kumiko while reading a book I purchased at Woodcraft, The Why & How of Woodworking, by Michael Pekovich. The required precision of the cuts and joints was a good challenge and an excellent way of continuing to build my woodworking skills.

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Asanoha (hemp leaf) Kumiko pattern

I’ve been carving for over forty years, so working with precision cuts isn’t anything new, but Kumiko is different. Everything must fit exactly and there is little room for error. I first cut out strips, about ⅛” thick and ⅜” tall, using my table saw and bandsaw. Kumiko is based on a half lap jointed grid of various shapes—square, diamond, or triangle. The inside, or infill, pieces are next. I use different jigs to cut the appropriate angles on the ends with a hand plane or chisel. The angle on each end varies with the pattern. Assembling the pieces is all by friction fit or half lap joint. To complete the presentation, I either cut the overhanging grid pieces off flush or build a frame around the entire pattern. When I’m finished, I recess my box lid so the Kumiko is flush with the top.

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The author working on a Kumiko project

Traditionally, Kumiko is unfinished. I make mine from basswood, but any wood will work. I’ve begun designing a lamp with a Kumiko shade filled with a translucent epoxy like Alumilite. A LED light inside showcases the Kumiko and really makes the pattern stand out. We’ve also started offering classes on Kumiko at the store for anyone interested in learning more about this challenging, but rewarding, woodworking art form.

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