Guild of Oregon Woodworkers

7634 SW 34th Avenue Portland, OR 97219

Japanese Tool Handles and Bench Design with Masa Nitani 20-1

  • 18 Feb 2020
  • 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM
  • Guild Shop
  • 0


Registration is closed

Japanese Tool Handles and Bench Design

      Instructor- Masa Nitani

This is not a class but a demo, discussion and a mini-workshop, primarily aimed at students who took Masa's bowl making class, but is open to anyone.  It is nominally a three hour session but the time will depend on how many attend, how the discussion goes and whether they want to make their own handle. 

The shop bench room will likely be used by a few open carving users, and there might be a power tool skills class going on in the machine room.

Masa makes a variety of handles, some are traditional and straight, some are flat but straight and some are uniquely shaped to fit in the crotch of your hand, as shown in the photo.  Masa will demonstrate how to make a handle shaped like those in the photo, starting with a blank steel blade we bought on Craigslist from Cory.  If there is time, he will also demonstrate how he makes a more traditional handle.  Those attending can attempt to make their own handle with a scrap blade from our sharpening bin, or a blade they bring.  You will be advised ahead of time what size and type of wood to provide, which in general will be a block that will first be drilled for the tang, then shaped with knives and carving tools to fit your hand and finger length.

Masa's workbench is pretty classical Japanese made from a scrap beam decades ago, low to fit his stature, sturdy to absorb mallet blows and long enough for the type of work he does.  This section of the workshop will be a simple show and tell by him, followed by a discussion of how to make something similar but fits your body and intent.  I expect the discussion to cover modifying a shaving horse frame to add a bowl carving head, making your own from scratch, and looking at the Roman workbench style documented by Chris Schwarz in the Lost Art Press book Ingenious Mechaniks.

This session is an experiment, so please be flexible.  The cost is nominal in order to compensate for his time.

Masa mainly teaches by demo and coaching, not lecture, so you must be willing to work in this format.  Masa's English is OK, but not great, but he communicates well.  He likes to demonstrate his techniques irrespective of any design and wants to help you learn techniques so you can apply them to your own design.

Masa Nitani has fifty years of carving experience and is now retired, having moved to Portland in 1983 from northern Japan, where he was apprenticed for three years.  He made his living here doing a variety of construction and specialty restoration projects, but has done carving all along the way.

If you have any questions, please contact Larry Wade at

Please register online.

In order to complete your registration payment must be made within 7 days of registration. Please go online and pay using PayPal or by check made to the order of the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers. Reference the class title on the memo line and mail it to: GOOW-Registrar, C/O Julie Niemeyer, 20282 SW Inglis Drive, Beaverton, OR 97007

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