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If you were one of the 450 people at Woodworking in America 2011, then hopefully you were able to fit in one of Jay van Arsdale’s sessions on Japanese tools and joinery. But if not (or for those who were there but want a refresher), we now have the next-best thing to learning from Jay in person: “Japanese Tools & Joinery,” a DVD he recorded in our studio.

On this DVD (available for pre-order at ShopWoodworking,com), Jay walks us through the history of Japanese tools, including saws, planes and chisels, and shows us how to properly set up and use them (plus he demonstrates how to sharpen the plane blades and chisels). Once he helps us to understand how the tools work, Jay shows them action as he introduces us to a variety of traditional Japanese joints, including how to lay them out and cut them.

If you want to know more about these traditional tools (which predate most Western-style tools), this DVD is a must-have. Order your copy of “Japanese Tools & Joinery” now. (The DVD will ship the first week of April.)

Jay began his career learning to be a blacksmith alongside his father and grandfather in his family’s Kentucky blacksmith shop. After graduating from Centre College in 1970, he moved to the San Francisco area and began studying traditional Japanese joinery with Makoto Imai, with whom he worked for a number of years. Jay now teaches all over the world, and is the author of the book “Shoji: Designing, Building and Installing Japanese Screens” (Kodansha) and several other DVDs. He has also written numerous articles on Japaense tools and the Japanese woodworking tradition. You can learn more about Jay at his web site:

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  • GeorgeC42

    Interesting DVD, but not as informative as I had expected from the description. History of tools given is sketchy. Shows making of only one simple joint. Many more interesting joints displayed in last 15 minutes, but shown poorly due to bad camera work and poor editing, both of which are a problem throughout. I would not take a chance on another “Shop Class” DVD. Not sure this was worth the $25 and three hours. Disappointing.

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