I was just discussing axe design and use with folk on the British Blades forum and was reminded of one of the most wonderful exhibitions of woodworking skill I have seen.

In 2005 I attended the first european “kesurokai”. This was an event inspired by a German carpenter journeyman spending time working with Japanese temple builders. In Japan the carpenters have started having events called kesurokai which translates as “planing together”. It is really a skill share event, very similar to British and American blacksmiths “hammer ins”. The prime focus was on hewing beams from tree trunks using a wide variety of regional techniques, it was interesting to see the differences between east and west European compared to the radically different Japanese technique. I took quite a bit of video and many photos and Nicola has just processed a section of the video for youtube showing the Japanese hewing technique.

Another fun part of the event was the planing competition where all the Japanese got out their planes and tried to plane the thinnest possible complete shaving from a 5 foot long 3″ wide board. The resulting shavings were completely see through and thinner than toilet paper. I demonstrated bowlturning, there was a blacksmith hand forging a damascus knife blade and many more demonstration besides. The second kesurokai was in 2007 and equally inspiring.

Here is the youtube video I hope you enjoy it.

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