Cedar finish par excellence

  |   Details, Materials, Techniques, Uncategorized

Take a look at some excellent cedar products we are creating with finest craftsmanship at Daizen Joinery.

Core dried Western Red Cedar rafter tails, combined with a superb oil finish creates this shiny, long lasting look in furniture quality. So prod of my guys in the shop!

20160520_192510657_iOS20160521_001335000_iOSWRC rafter tails

and before finish:

WRC before finishWRC before finish

How do we archive this quality? Well, it all starts with a clean shop and careful material handling……

Read More

Stair by Daizen

  |   Design, Details, Joinery, Techniques, Uncategorized

Stairs are simply steps that allow us to move to different heights, but they also become a main design feature of the home. Stair design sometimes takes as much time as designing the house structure. Building stairs is not difficult, but to build with safety, furniture grade, it is not like a house structure – it requires a higher skill set and much drier materials. There are different types of stair design – cut out stairs, housed stairs, suspended stairs, spiral stairs, mono stringer stairs etc. Daizen has built over 100 stairs. Here are some examples of how Daizen approaches building one-of-a-kind stairs.

We have extended our services to build stair-focused projects and welcome your inquiries.

Suspended stair


This is a one-of-a-kind stair that is completely custom designed. The centre post is a solid 30″x30″ post, but there is no stair stringer to support the treads. Stair treads (steps) are supported at the centre post where they interconnect? Otherwise, the stair hangs from a railing made out of steel. Our process involved fitting all treads and the landing on a temporary support, then we built the steel railing and hung the treads to complete the project.



To keep the landing at the same thickness as the stair tread, we built a steel frame in a fish bone pattern and laminated the solid wood pieces from the top and bottom.

P3190394 P3190412


Housed stair



Housed stairs are very clean and strong. This type of stair can be assembled prior to installation, which allows for a faster installation process and makes the stair connection to the wall and floor easier to work with. The view from under the landing is also highly visible and we always pay attention to how the stair looks from all sides.


The landing is suspended from specially shaped member from above.

Brad Taylor Res - 087

Steel stringer housed type stair: Wood is easy to shave and adjust but steel isn’t, so all measurement need to be accurate. This is a nice stair design that fits well within a modern style house.


Double stringer housed stair built in Japan.


Cut out stair

Brad Plowe-032

A typical cut out stair looks like this. The length of the spindles can be attached directly to treads. The stringer size must be a focus with this style because there is a big chunk of wood to be cut out.

glasswing 005

Cut out stair during construction: Note that the landing is suspended. A lot of thinking and experimentation went into building this stair.

Spiral stair


Inside spiral stair is not always useable, but fits well when using a round log as a centre post.


Suspended spline shape stair: A uniform radius spiral stair is difficult to build, but when the radius is not uniform, it requires an actual scale template be built first. Railings were “three-dimensionaly” bent. The core was replaced with structural plywood with a through-bolt attached that is holding the end of the treads.



Stair on a regular type of frame: Once the walls are up, we build the stringer to the wall on site and make a template for all tread/steps. We pre-manufacture these in our shop so they may be installed, simply, on site.

Mono stringer stair


Mono stringer stairs with steel seem to be a favorite style of many people. Key to building this stair is consideration for adjustment because the steel receiver will not be in a perfect position.


Stuck up stair


This stair system is designed and engineered to have a 1,000 lbs point load in the middle of the stair. The core of each step is made out of glulam (GLB) and cladded with walnut. We allocated a gap between the GLB and walnut to allow for some movement and filled it with an expanded form. The walnut did not come any wider than 10″ so we grain-matched the board to look like solid wood. This project is ongoing and a completed photo will be posted later.

Stair 3

Onsite built stair. This project required more work on the curved railing. The grip profile is carved from solid wood.

It seems like most of our stair design specifications fit a 10″ run and 7.5″ rise and we make fine adjustments in this range. To make an open staircase, the maximum opening around the stair and railing by building code is 4”. This leads us to use 3.5″ thick stair treads, with the spindle space in the railing at 5″ apart. Our stair stock materials are in 4×12 select grade, dried to 12% minimum.

Read More

Hand plane competition (Kezuroukai USA)

  |   Fun, Techniques, Uncategorized


“Kezurou-kai” is Japanese group with 15,000 members. Translation of this name to English means “Shaving – group” demonstrate the traditional Japanese hand tools, techniques and traditional method of building such as post and beam and stucco wall finish to the public. As people know, Japanese blade are made out of melting carbon steel to soft steel so it is hard and sharp at the carbon edge but flexible so shape can be adjusted, all done by hand except the pounding to strengthen the steel has some machine hammer on duty.  This include swords, knifes, chisels and planer blades. Why does this matter? It only matters for people does real fine work and people push the limits, craftsman and artist entire world, when they meet these fine Japanese tools that are made with skills, they fall in love because it does bring the work to the next level.

Hand planing is great example. Hand planer mainly used for two different application shaping the wood or finishing the surface, in joinery work it makes flat surface and shave the wood to line, shaving to pencil line but to outer edge of line or center of line depends on character of joinery, this is the scale of 1/32 inch as pencil line and joinery size to be control by 1/64 inch. For finishing if wood is planed properly, it gives mirror finish that would shed water which means stain would not penetrate in, this is the finish applied for the temples and still many Japanese style house build today. No stain!


saran wrap measures 9 micron at house

What happen if those professionals competing how thin it can be planed? This competition is about pushing limit, rules are plane shavings to be full width and full length and measure 3 points and take the thickest point not the thinnest point. Measuring instruments are micrometer. Micrometer measure the thickness in micron. 1 Micron is 1/1000 of millimeter or 0.00004 inch.  20lbs paper is a bit over 100 micron, saran wrap may be the one of thinnest material we touch often which is about 7-9 micron I measured at my house.

Long story short, winners at the Japanese competitions are around 4 micron, record I heard are 1 or 2 micron but not official. This is totally crazy, it does not change the dimension of wood, it takes 250 times of this shaving to lose 1mm in a wood.

First try at our shop 4 weeks prior to competition, with same way we have been sharpening, wood surface were nice and shining after plane, I did not had micrometer so I asked Kazu “What you think this shaving thickness is?”, He is the only one has attend the event in Japan but never competed and he told me “My guess would be around 40 micron” . I had no clue what that means but I thought it should be better than that, so order the micrometer and a few sharpening stone from Japan.

From this date, we had 4 weeks to competition and we hooked into this, plane the wood after work every day, we occupied the bathroom at the house every single night (Bath room has different use for Japanese wood worker, it is sharpening room), too embarrassed to even mention how long each night were to spend on this. My wife try not to spoke about, only my son Taro comes in bath room once every night and he say to me “One day off, puts three days back, right?” I said to my son “You know it, that is why I even took this to our year end camping last weekend!”

Kiyo got thinnest 5 micron

Kiyo got thinnest 5 micron

Story would not end, and for the people want to take off here, here is the result. 25-27 people enter into competition, we are only Canadian crossed border to join the event, thinnest shaving was 5 micron but it was not full width and length. Qualified shavings I thought were a few 7-9 micron and a few 10-16 micron. Kiyo was the one got 5 micron, Kazu had 10 micron full width, full length, consistent, Eijiro got good 16 micron, we all had our best at the competition so Daizen team did very well. I unfortunately got late to the competition, spend too much time on socializing…. It would been around 10-12 micron, will revenge next year!


Kazu, first try, 20 micron, he got 10 micron after this try

Kazu, first try, 20 micron, he got 10 micron after this try

Here continue the story.

zoomed with x20 micro scope, I have been using this microscope for about 20 years

zoomed with x20 microscope, I have been using this microscope for about 20 years and edge looks good, it is very sharp. This is showing finish with 8,000 grid, shows nice and smooth to the edge















This is picture with X100. Picture is not taken same blade but same principal, back side of planer blade finish with 8,000 grid. This shows the edge is not reached with sharpening and some large scratch. From this, I figure water at my house contains calcium that effecting this scare, since I saw this, I use only pure water prior to 8,000 grid. So it looks great in X20 but not in X100 which gave me some ideas how I can improve.

Chesel and planer blade sharpening, what matters most is the back side of the blade. How to sharpen this flat matters. In planing, if the back is sharpened properly, there are guy says he gets 10 micron with 1,000 grid sharpening at front edge. This is true. Chesel and planer both has hollow back which is to make the flat sharpening easier and more perfectly. This hollow is made prior the forge so it is not something would work same such as gliding the back hollow. For the planer, focus is to leave the sharpening surface minimum, if you keep sharpening the back, it makes flat wider and wider, instead, we pound the soft steel at front to push the blade so keep the flat surface minimum.

Water at my house, contains calcium, if I boil water in kettle for tea, it is visually notice, I see some white settlement, this definitely cause the sharpening so I made sure to clean the blade and stone and only use the filtered water prior to finish.

I used to use only 800 grid then prior to finish. This was enough to maintain very sharp edge for chisel and normal work but to go for 10 micron and less, I needed to stone, I purchased, #1,000, #2,000 and natural finishing stone (equilibrant to #8,000) and eliminate using #800.

Sharpening is moving from one grid to others, coarser to finer. At each stage, it create burbe at the edge and how much it creates is the measurement to move into next grid. Though rough grid such as #800 seems like damage the edge too rough it makes the edge week.

Difference between natural #8,000 grid and natural stone is that natural stone create aggregate that become finer and finer as kept sharpening but more the less, placing this in between the blade and stone, it works like compound that maintain the flat of the stone better. These are really hard to understand that you need to put time into this to feel.

So, 4 hours of sharpening every night was to explore, set the theory, and gain more skills of sharpening. Actual sharpening, maintaining edge from not damaged blade is about 30 min max.


One week prior to competition, my best was 16 micron. All hope was to wait the set of new stone that ordered but have not came in. New set of stone contains #8,000 diamond stone I meant to use only for the back side of planer blade so it reach to the edge with flat and also finish so none of other wrapping is needed.
















Driving to Santa Clara was 20 hours drive.


Planing wood at KOA campsite California 30 min after parked.

Event was Saturday so we left Kamloops after the work, Thursday 4PM. 4 of us got into my motorhome and started driving, felt like teens that something exciting ahead waiting for us. Long way ahead so I thought I would not talk about planer blade, base maintenance and so on, but conversation started right after we left and carried all the way to California. Friday 3PM we got close so we camped. All 4 of us brought sharpening set out, try out planing and got back to sharpening. My set of stone came in Wed afternoon and I did not had chance to try yet, so we tried at camp site. Got into dark so we moved to toilet facility at camp site and continue sharpened. Good that it was end of October, not many people at camp site, but a few people around did not even come close us to ask what we were doing, we all had sharp knife on hand and kept sharpening, it must been look so wired.


Lucky that bathroom at campsite had 4 sets of sink and nice and bright.



There were lots of great moments but I got right in a activity this time and had not taken any pictures.

Hand planing is very fun and shows how humans are capable that I don’t think machine can compete at the moment. It has lots to it, I only introduced one side of sharpening, how to maintain stone flat, method of sharpening, difference in stone, kind of blade, maintaining the wood base, fine adjustment of base, etc etc.

I am planning to do sharpening workshop at BCLTBI AGM that coming in Feb 19th at Chase Quaaout Lodge, anyone welcome to join.

Read More

Screw laminated beam

  |   Design, Details, Joinery, Techniques, Uncategorized

When the beam require extra strength running long span, stacking the two beam together would not simply increase the strength. In this project, we are putting keys in between the timber so it looks like the key is taking the shear on two beams but it is just decorative, real structural function is in fully threaded screw that is in a timber not visual.



PC042845 PC042818 PC042833

Read More

Turning a simple truss design into a piece of art

  |   Details, Uncategorized

Here at Daizen Joinery we are turning even a simple truss design into a piece of art. With grain matching curved arches and an “antic” looking surface texture it truly looks like one bend beam.

truss1 truss2 truss3

Creating a perfect unique custom finish is only one of the specialties we perform here at Daizen Joinery every day to make every project special for our customers.

Read More

Raising tip: lifting a post straight up

  |   Newsletter, Techniques, Uncategorized

From Daizen News, June 2013

During a raising, lifting the post straight up from the top will help place it accurately and safely. We calculate the weight of the member and place a proper screw that we can hook into the dead-volume center, so the lift is controlled.

The hook used to do this is called a transport ankor, and it’s sold by Würth. We countersink and inset the screws, so that we don’t need to climb up the top of the post after it’s set to take the screw out.

Because we pre-stain our timbers, no damage is allowed. The anchors eliminate the strap that would otherwise go around the member. Also, we protect the corners of the post bottom by enclosing it in a box before the post is lifted. This is a money saving preparation  that we strongly recommend.

We include a gasket around the bottom of each post as part of the building envelope.

A nylon-based plate makes a thermal barrier as well as preventing moisture transfer to the post’s end grain. Then our famous Japanese epoxy anchor system goes in to secure the post to the foundation.



Read More

Spotlight on comb finish

  |   Materials, Newsletter, Uncategorized

From Daizen News October 2012

Wood offers lots of options. One of the most important to homeowners—because it concerns the entire timber surface that you see (and live with) in the finished house—is the finish. If you want a rustic feel to your timber but don’t like fuzzy fibers that catch dust and provide an easy path for spiders, a comb finish may be the answer for you. In most cases, vertical grain is the favored grain look, but in a comb finish, flat grain is also pleasing to look at it.

To achieve a comb finish, we scrub a nylon brush along the grain that digs into, and compresses, the softer fibers. This makes the tight-grained winter growth stand out in relief. Running your hand over it feels good—you get to feel the grain, not just see it.

A comb finish also stands out more when stained.

It’s more work for us, which means a bit more cost, but the result is stunning. Most people who see it (and feel it) really love it.

For more, see our article, “Wood Texture,” on our website’s Downloads page.

Read More

Wood textures: it’s all in the touch

  |   Materials, Newsletter, Uncategorized

from Daizen News  1 April 2012

Even if two houses had the same floor plan, there are ways we could deliver a different feel to each frame. These include joinery design, of course, but also the finish surface of timbers. Finishing timbers seems such a, well, surface task. But when someone comes into a house and feels the wood of a post (and many people do this instinctively), the touch of the surface evokes one of their deepest responses.

Stain color has a lot to do with the timber surface, but the final texture is also key in delivering the result to match what you are

looking for. Daizen has five different timber surface finishes to respond to the variety in demand. From smooth to rough, they change the feel, literally, of the total frame.


The most common finish. Our timber is normally dressed in our four-sided planer to be exactly square and dimensional, but for the stain to penetrate into the fibre, the timber surface will require further treatment.

Super fine

Depending on how fine a finish is desired, it may be applied along with a finer-grid sanding, or we may use a hand planer to achieve the surface. This is our standard for “high-touch” applications like stairs or for anyone looking for finest surface quality.

Comb finish

We raise the grain, for a patina effect to this finish. This is a great finish for those who want a bit of rustic feel yet desire a clean finish as well.

Rough sawn finish

Sawmill surface, for a true rustic feel. Rough sawn timbers are the only ones we can’t put in the planer, so the surface planes may not be totally square (common in traditional timber framing). This adds to the rustic feel. Joinery may be somewhat less tight in this finish, although structural integrity is never compromised.

Adze finish

The classic traditional finish, evoking a time before electric tools. We raise the grain, to give depth. A great finish for those who want a bit of rustic feel yet desire a clean finish as well. The faceted texture gives a warm, handmade feel.

Read More

Great volunteers

  |   Uncategorized

Saturday 9th, I got to shop around 8:00 am, Kiyo Hagiwara and Eijiro Hara has been preparing this gate production on their own time for while and they were there already started preparing great day of volunteer. Hiroomi Yamaguchi showed up short while, giving hand to unload drink, T-shirts and clean up a bid of mess where bunch of foot prints would going to be made. About 6 sets of gates were already processed with machine, ready for guys to finish up and assembled. Yuki Ogita showed up around 9:00 I started warm up the machine. the day started.

Eijiro and Omi started to map out each gate to four saw horses and Yuki started to chisel the corner of through mortise. Mike Neufeld from Calgary show up around 9:30, found the job himself and jumped on to work until all the gates assembled and took out for group picture. Tamotsu Hongu is gardener in Coquitlam and he shows up with his friend Simon Teixeira, Dominic Steverlynck, Kensuke Yamamoto, Koichi Hirokawa and Hayato Ogawa, Simon and Dominic grabbed palm sander and they committed to sand all the parts of gates the crew would chop and  fine-tuned to be ready assembled. Fight with fine dust, vibrations on hand all day, they did not complain single moment of this undesirable work.

Tamotsu took the work of chamfering the edge of pieces, all day, working on edge, height was not set for his comfort but he did not bother wasting time to set his environment work for him, instead, he just kept working, end of the day at the BBQ, he said to me ” It was very fun!” I know his back is soar.

Rick Hay show up also around same time, he knows how to run our shop also planer, he came to switch position from Kiyo, took over material preparation that feeds our monster CNC machine to fabricate the rest of gates, until our materials runs out.

Toshi Oiwa, KAN Terao, Kohei Kimura and Shuji Yamada stop at Nicola Log Works to pick up additional materials and arrive to my shop 10:30, shortly after Takayuki Nishio joined. Now, all members are arrived and line of skilled builder and gardener were into the work and gave the best of the best to this event. KAN and Shuji took the job to assemble the love and wish gate. they have completed assemble total 5 of those together. Tow mall guys worked quickly and achieved huge in a day.  Toshi looked around and figure out what the spot he could fit to made the production go smooth and assembled two Torri gate later the date.

Lunch arrived at 1:00pm, Takiko Hara and Chie Ogita, both has baby less than  one year old, Kids were on their back swing around, two of them had to prepare the lunch for 18 gangly man, it must been tough. We had no brake till late no chair to offer for crew but great curry lunch full filled our stomach, finally we made a little time to introduce us each other during lunch time.

After lunch, all of us got together and we pray for people Japan in silent and got back to work.

Gate designer Karl Willms showed up to join and talked to each guys. First gate buyer Evelyn Delaney also shows up with treat, Alfred and Kathy from World of wood also stopped to support us.

Production went much faster and productive than I expected, total of 11 gates were assembled and completed and we run out of materials to continue for Sunday.

Sign into logo flag and took the entire gate out for group picture. I really felt each one in this picture are real great parson who does get up and do the things.

I have no doubt about what we are doing is great things and this gates we are making are so valuable piece of evident that all great thought, work and split are implemented.

Thanks to all volunteers, you guys are really great, I hope we get together again and give it another shot.

All pictures of this date are shared in https://picasaweb.google.com/daimikimizukitaro/JapanTsunamiReliefVolunteerProduction#


Read More