— Delirious New York Diary

千葉県多古町の古民家改修 その6. 裏庭の作業小屋 6. Workshop in the backyard


The master carpenter who renovated the old Japanese house was told to leave the place he built his workshop—the land space is not his own, he had been leasing the lot. It is unfortunate but he had to demolish the workshop—then there is the backyard of my house, which is so wide open.

最初の柱と梁はロープで立ち上げた。柱の乗る土台は、地中に埋めた杭に乗っている。The first set of columns and beam was set by rope. The ground foundation is fixed on top of those piles set in the ground.


The most significant advantage of wooden construction found in Japanese traditional architecture is that the once built structure can be disassembled into pieces of wooden part, and if wanted, those pieces can be reassembled in order to rebuild it in similar manner. I strongly realized with this point in this renovation project—it can not be done in construction method such as reinforced concrete building.


The master carpenter disassembled the workshop, put those pieces in manageable order by numbering, marking and grouping according to the structural, functional roles. By doing so, it can be instantly figured out that how each piece of material can be put together and fit.

重い部材は伝統的な三叉を用いた。単純な装置で、二本の長い木材を三角形に起ち上げ、滑車を吊るして木材を引っ張り上げる。以前はこうした装置で大規模な寺院や城を建設していた。Heavy materials were set by traditional wooden crane–it is a simple instrument by using two wooden poles fixed in a triangle, with pulley pulling up the material by rope. This is how traditional building, even a large scale temples or castles were constructed.

Each piece of wooden material has its own, peculiar distortion after years. Such distortion could occur in various reasons—for example, the sun orientation could dry or heat a building in different manner—as the sun travels from East to the West, climbing higher in the sky to heat the ground or building structure in inconsistent manner. While distortion of each piece is suppressed when put together with other piece, such distortion becomes significant when disassembled.

三叉を使い、奥から手前に三叉をずらしながら梁を渡していく。Using the wooden crane, from the back to the front, the set of beam-columns was fixed one by one.


During this reconstruction, any heavy equipment could not go into the backyard, thus we used more traditional method. By using two long wooden pieces put together in triangle shape, along with ropes and pulleys, even heavy pieces of wood can be lifted up by a few people. Actually, even a large temple or a castle were constructed by using such equipment.

シンプルな柱+梁構造に、筋交いを立体的に組み入れることで全体を補強し揺れを防ぐ。木材に歪みがあるためなかなか組み上げにくいものの、歪み方向にロープで構造を引き戻して歪みを補正した上でこれら筋交い等を組み上げていく。 By fixing those diagonal braces, the entire building is fixed in position without distortion. It is hard to fit those braces because of the distortion, but once it is set, the structure is solid and distortion-free.


Ground sills are fixed on wooden piles, rather than using concrete foundation. Those piles in 2m long were hammered into the ground—while wooden pile could be deteriorated at the part above the ground, the part in the ground would not be decayed. (actually, wooden piles have been found in the ground from remains of old buildings, some several thousands years old)
On top of the ground sills, columns and beams were assembled by using the method described above.

梁の上には束を立て、棟木を渡していく。高さがある小屋のため、重い部材を持ち上げるのは骨が折れた。それでも棟梁は細く揺れる足場の上で、バランスを取りながらこれらを組み上げていくのだ。On top of the beams, roof supporting piles are fixed and roofridges were placed. Those heavy materials were hard to bring up to the roof level, although the master carpenter even walks around on the narrow and shaking scaffolding…


Some part of the building can not fit well because of distortions, but those can be fixed by pulling or pushing some part of the building. We managed to get it right.


It was quite tiresome to pull up heavy wooden pieces. Master bring up to the beams and locate those on the particular places. The “dance” of the master can not be learned in short period of time.

棟木が組み上がれば、後は垂木を渡し野地板を貼っていき、屋根の下地を作る。Once the roofridge is in place, then rafters are fixed and roof sheathing boards are set.


The height of the beams and roof was determined based on the type of works to be done in the workshop. Long wooden pieces can be moved around the workshop. The workshop will be wide-open building.

To be continued.

















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