In August I visited Japan on a woodworking exchange working with traditional Japanese master carpenters building a tea house. I came home with a bit of a lust for Japanese tools, I could not afford to buy a chouna or axe, the tools are all hand forged by individual smiths, very good but very expensive. I really liked the old ones more than the new anyway. I have found one source in Europe importing the chouna and they are no more expensive than they were in Japan here. So I have been mailing with my Japanese friend and greenwoodworker Tomio Imaru and he and his friends have collected some old chouna, ono and masakari for me.
The axes in the picture above are carpenters ono, the general purpose carpenters axe. Below are the more specialised masakari, this is the huge heavy axe used for hewing beams, it is swung in a big pendulum motion whilst standing on top of the log.
And these are the tools that all the European carpenters adored, chouna or Japanese adzes. The handles are grown bends of enju wood which is tremendously tough and springy.
All these tools are now in a big parcel on a boat heading for the UK, I am rather excited, should be here before Christmas.
And this is how the tools are used.
We visited Japan with a team of 30 top European carpenters and will be having a get together in Germany in January and I'll be taking tools along to share around the group. We all adored the Japanese tools but working with a tool for two weeks is different from owning it and getting to know it over a long time.