I’m taking the opportunity to practice using the uzukuri while building my Japanese style toolbox. Well “practice” may be a little misleading. I don’t really have a clue how these tools are supposed to be used beyond “rub them on the wood”. I first wrote about the uzukuri here in case you need a little background.
Each of the toolbox parts provides me with a blank canvas for experimentation. I’m basically starting blind. I have no information on the use of the uzukuri other than rub it on the wood and to do it with the grain. So this will be a steep learning curve.
I began with the short end pieces of the toolbox. I first planed the surface just as I would with any work piece. Then I marked the eventual location of the handles so as to avoid working in those areas for fear of causing glue-up issues when installing the handles.
Then I began with the “rough” uzukuri.
I quickly discovered that it is best to start with almost no pressure. Just lightly move the tool the length of the board with the grain. The uzukuri quickly begins to reveal the grain structure of the wood. As the grain begins to surface the uzukuri starts to ride the grain like a train on a track. As this happens you can begin to add more pressure. The trick is to not cross the grain at this point. Scratch type indentations will be the result if you do and they are tough to remove. Trust me on this! By the time I was satisfied with the depth of the texture, I was actually using quite a bit of pressure.
Here is the result of the “rough” uzukuri.
Next up was the “medium” uzukuri. This one is made from some sort of roots. Its also noticeably finer than the “rough” version. Same idea as before but much more forgiving if you jump the track and run across the grain. It’s difficult to photograph the surface and do it any kind of justice. The difference between the “rough” and “medium” looks very slight in the photos but is quite a bit more dramatic in person.
The result of the “medium” uzukuri.
Finally I began working with the “fine” uzukuri. This one is made from horse hair and has the same feel as a tightly packed shoe shine brush. I continued working with the grain and using a good bit of pressure. Working over the entire area until I had an even luster. Remember that this surface is a direct result of the tools only. No wax or oil has been added.
The result of the “fine” uzukuri.
It’s a start, and I learned a little about how to use these tools. I’ll add another post as I tackle the other parts and share any further insights that I may discover. I can’t stress how much I like the resulting surface. Burnished and very pleasing to the touch.