An interesting opportunity to study the internal workings of tsuchikabe wall construction as the island kajiba series of photo essays comes to a conclusion, documenting the preparation, construction, and set up of a simple swordsmith style kajiba (鍛冶場, forge building) from the ground up. The main inspiration for aesthetic, form, and technique is the humble utilitarian Japanese inaka naya (納屋) style of a century ago.
The kajiba project came to a close much earlier than expected which required the building, tools, and materials to be removed from the property on short notice. Several blacksmiths and friends providentially converged around the same time and helped make short work of cleaning up the area and providing new homes for most of the tools and materials. The building has been donated to a good cause and will eventually be reassembled by a young smith to launch his craft.
Yakisugi & Lath Walls
The first step was to remove all wall panels that were only wood. This was accomplished in sections by running stabilizing supports across the outside of each panel and then removing the screws holding the boards to the timberframe. This approach was then applied to the wall sections with earth plaster on the inside, keeping the clay intact as much as possible for reassembly. The amount of damage was minimal and the clay mixture surprisingly durable.
Disassembling the Roof
After the roof sheeting and framework is removed, the rafters and beams can be lifted off of the tenoned lath to allow the tsuchikabe panels to be removed.
Removing the Tsuchikabe
After the top rafters and beams are removed, the side tenons for each tsuchikabe panel can be sawed off freeing them from the timber frame. The two smallest panels can be lifted out but the larger four must be dropped to the ground for removal. A tarp catches the broken earth plaster for reconstitution at a later date. Historically old plaster has always been saved and reused as it is recognized as superior in quality to newly made material, and also cuts down the preparation time.
After the roof beams are removed the structure can be disassembled relatively quickly by a small crew. Once any remaining staple nails are removed, a timber hammer and a couple of extra hands keep the process moving quickly.
The floor was laid with reclaimed clay bricks from the backlot of the Bethlehem Walk set, along with some river stones. The bricks will be relocated to the museum forge and the stones are going to a good home.
Special thanks also to Steve and Josh for helping with the takedown process in the middle of a busy hay season. Thanks to Michael and Kevin who assisted with moving brick and stone and to the many who offered encouragement, support, and help along the way.