After nearly 20 years in big Tokyo I was feeling burned out in my not-so-successful "career" in the service industry, knocking on several after a chance discovery of cheap old farmhouses we set out towards the countryside - but still close enough for my wife to further pursue her working live, commuting by Shinkansen while I would take care of the house and kids and build my own little cafe at home...
Our first bump came when we realized that the bank wasn't willing to give a loan for an old rundown house on some worthless property in the "Hinterland". So, we changed plans and will be building a new house. We already bought the plot last year, with about 400 square meters size, and I have started the vegetable garden beforehand, next project will be the garden house.

27 October, 2011

Into the woods

These past two weeks went too fast...despite not having a job, I always feel that the day is not long enough to get things done. Main reason for this is of course that I will pick up Hannah from day care center around four in the afternoon and spent the next hours entertaining playing with her, preparing her food, feeding her, and preparing our dinner so that the time I am able to work at the garden house is never a "full" day.
Another reason is actual a positive one: last week workers started to demolish a wooden building that had been used as a budget hotel many years ago three lots down from our's. Together with my friendly neighbor I went there and asked whether I could pick up some planks and beams and they ok'd it, since the disposal would cost money anyway. So, since then I have been going there any day I was at the garden house, carrying wood on my shoulder, since our car is not big at all and material comes out only slowly. Also the 3-story structure collapsed neatly into a big pile of mostly wood, most of the sorting is done by hand than. But the friendly leader put aside the planks of the main stairs for me, which will become a nice wood deck and beams for my next structure, a firewood storage place...

I had also carried off two of these sliding doors with the intent to use the glass for my windows. But when carefully hammering the frame open, I realized that I could use the rails and stiles itself very nicely, because the tenons came out rather clean and it would save me the work to cut all the mortises and tenons for the two frames myself. Plus the old wood wouldn't warp and the minutely worked connections would make a stable window frame also I think I might have to drill in dowels inside the corners to prevent sagging.

The rails after disassemblying

A closer look into the mortises reveals that they are not 100% chiseled by hand but rather pre-drilled. Still, a lot of work goes into one door with 8 of these mortises, their respective tenons, 4 smaller pairs for the middle rail and the decorative filigree "kumiko" rails.
This is how the finished window will look in size. I was real lucky in that the glass will fit in height and thus the tenons and mortises on one side are usable like this with using the top and the middle rails and the outer stiles. I just have to shave off half a centimeter each from top and bottom of the rails and cut new tenons on one size to fit with the stile
This is how the house looks now, and most of the stuff stays there. I only take some of the power tools and the big tool box back home with me and "hide" the rest under a big blue tarp. Sure, the plot is at a very minor road and the house opens to a dead-end gravel road. Still, much must be credited to Japanese not stealing ordinary stuff. Of course there is still a chance that some day something is missing, but it is a very minimal one esp here on the countryside.

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