Stu and I had a great tour yesterday and spent the whole day doing woodworking stuff. Saw lot's of cool Japanese tools, materials and ideas. I'd like to load up a marine container to send home!
We went out north of Tokyo in Stu's trusty Subaru mini van on the expressway (double decker in places, of course, to save space so they could put it above the city streets between the skyscrapers Just like driving around home, except on the other side ) to his favourite spot - Super Viva Home. Sort of like a HD/ Woodcraft/Costco hybrid on steroids. Serious materials and tools for pros at one end and consumer goods, even pets at the other end. Maybe a couple of acres of building.
Stu had a shopping list for some current and upcoming projects and I was on the lookout for more cool little Japanese tools or gadgets to amuse visitors to the shop
After lunch we headed back into the city ( we never really left the city in an hour's drive) and stopped at a "Wood shop" lumber store in Shinkiba, an industrial area east of Tokyo near Tokyo Bay. Awesome slabs and specialty woods, at awesome prices (480,000 yen - $6000 for one big burl slab). Highly figured Asian hardwoods I had never heard of. With Stu's nifty iPhone translator we were able to figure out a lot of the species. Larry, you need to send some of that chocolate over and Stu could set up a little shop, you could retire on a piece of that action!
After that, it was back to Shinjuku and the Dungeon to unload the van, maneuver some plywood down into the shop (just 3x6 sheets, thankfully) and see what Stu's been up to. There's some very impressive stuff coming off the third generation of a machine he's been working with, and some great cutting edge ideas for future development. I had an eye-opening demo of the Incra iBox (?) box joint jig on the table saw, which laid to rest all of my less than satisfactory attempts at "simple, accurrate" jigs from ww mags. One of these is definitely in my future. Stu got some amazing results just with a regular blade and some scrap mdf. I can only imagine how it does with the proper Forrest box joint set installed.
Finally there was a formal presentation (Japanese-style, of course, lots of bowing and courtesies!) of an official Spanish Tour de Wood Round To It, which I delivered on behalf of the Ambassador himself (I think I was his junior lieutenant for this occasion) in recognition of Stu's vicarious participation (via Oovoo video link), in the wonderful Michigan woodworking weekend a few weeks ago. We even toasted the event properly with some excellent Japanese brewed products, again courtesy of the Ambassador himself. There had actually been an elegant plan in the works to transport, through the magic of the internet, some of Jim Niemi's own brew, made especially for the Michigan gathering. Sadly, through some technical and logistical challenges, this part was just not meant to be, despite the best efforts of an elite team of international experts. Next time, for sure!
Stu, thanks for a great day! I really enjoyed our tour and all the excellent conversation over a wide range of topics. Looking forward to next time.
Here's some pics to certify that it all really happened. Maybe soon I'll figure out how to expertly blend them in with the text.