Make a Japanese Toolbox


Make a Japanese Toolbox

Meeting Times
  1. Tue, 3/5/2024 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  2. Thur, 3/7/2024 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  3. Tue, 3/12/2024 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  4. Thur, 3/14/2024 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Tue, 3/5/2024 - Thur, 3/14/2024


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Woodworking & Small Boatbuilding Studio

General Woodworking, Hand Woodworking


Make a Japanese toolbox in this class, which is designed for both beginning and intermediate-level students of Japanese woodworking techniques. Beginners will learn some of the  basics of Japanese tools and ways of working wood, which are very different from those that evolved in the West. Intermediate students will brush up on techniques and learn more complex joinery to incorporate in their boxes.

The toolbox  is designed to safely store and transport hand planes, hammers and chisels. But you can use yours for any number of purposes. The box will be made of yellow cedar and will be pproximately 10 inches wide, 20 inches long and 6 inches tall. It will have a sliding lid that locks into place without hardware. To hold the parts together, beginners will use copper nails — but with a clever twist developed by Japanese carpenters that keeps them from popping out. More advanced students will make mortise and tenon joints.

You will learn:

  • how to sharpen the chisels and plane blades, by hand on water stones.
  • how to dress the wooden plane bodies with a scraper plane and set the blades with an octagon hammer.
  • how to flatten and square the wood with a hand plane.
  • how to lay out the pieces and cut them accurately to size, using Japanese squares and saws.


  • A $40 materials fee, included in the class fee, covers all materials and use of all the tools you need.
  • If you own Japanese-style tools, you are welcome to bring and use them.



Class Policies

  • Ages 14 and up are welcome.
  • You must wear safety glasses and closed-toe shoes. We recommend bringing your own safety glasses.
  • Depending on your pace, you may need to work on your box during open studio time in order to complete it by the end of the class. Use of the shop during these times is free for members. Non-members can also use the shop without an additional charge while completing a class project.

BARN Policies

Instructors or Guides

Gary Bella

Gary Bella grew up in western Pennsylvania. After college and art school, he moved to the Bay Area and began working in residential construction in Marin County. He later specialized in finish carpentry while developing a design/build business. He took classes in traditional Japanese woodworking and helped build Japanese-style houses and tea houses in California, New York, and Washington. After he moved to Bainbridge in 2003, he continued to build Japanese-inspired projects for private clients. He was among the craftsmen who restored the Japanese guest house at Bloedel Reserve and continues to do work there.

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