“There is a significant difference between not getting a deal signed and having your head cut off. Business is mental. War is mental and physical. The true warrior has not difficulty understanding this difference regardless of all the hype suggesting that ‘business is war’. It absolutely is not.”
Stephen F. Kaufman

The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings

Kumiko Unfolding – Part 2: Table Yes, Floor No


Most projects at Bhudeva reach beyond my horizon of perception. Their time-line is unknown, they require much physical work, much figuring out, new tools, new skills and a lot of trial and error. They also require a lot of preparation … so much so … that some “preparations” become separate projects. This often results in a long journey that requires patience … sometimes a journey so long that I feel it is better to approach it with the assumption that I may never reach the goal I am aiming for.

I did not want Kumiko to become another such project. Yes, preparations would be required, but I didn’t want them to take years. I wanted something that I could connect with in the short term. In winter, as I was reading about Kumiko, I aspired to be able to make an asa-no-ha in spring. I wanted to find the shortest path possible to do that.

The workshop is basically half of a barn. It was originally used for grain storage. When we first landed at Bhudeva it was full and inaccessible. I built a couple of saw horses, laid two 2×8 boards on top of them and got to work. Every time I wanted to work I needed to bring out all the tools and setup the saw-horses … and with every sign of rain I had to scramble to pack it all up. A year or two later (I don’t remember exactly when), we finally got the barn cleared. Moving into the barn was a major upgrade to my work conditions. I placed a few long 2×8 interlaced with bricks along one wall and had shelves … a workshop-ish!  … it was also a storage place, it had no lighting (I only worked when daylight was sufficient) and it had a dirt floor covered by linoleum sheets (that originally covered the earth “floors” in the house).

With that I’ve been working ever since. It wasn’t a pleasant place to be in, but it was key to creating almost everything else at Bhudeva. But I now wanted to make it a place I could enjoy coming to, to make Kumiko. Doing that “properly” would mean putting in a concrete floor (which would require clearing it out, which would lead to one or two other substantial projects), installing proper lighting, fixing the walls, cabinets, etc. And very quickly I would find myself in yet another journey that would span years. No, I don’t want this. Thats not quite true … I don’t want it now, but I do want this (I used to take solid flat floors for granted, their absence at Bhudeva taught me to appreciate them more).

So I asked myself what would be the bare minimum I need to make that asa-no-ha pattern? It boiled down to a table with a vise and some wood-working hand tools that would allow me to create small and precise (enough) pieces needed for Kumiko (so far I’ve been using power tools to create large objects that requires only rough precision).

And so I began to research tables and vises and hand tools. Nothing is simple, options everywhere:

  • I remembered that I have in the workshop a large piece of thick veneered particle board that could serve as a table top and designed a table around that.
  • I chose to go with a twin-screw vise.
  • From the Kumiko books I could make a list of the hand tools I would need for making Kumiko.
  • A couple of hand-planes (I settled on a versatile low-angle jack plane & a rebating block planes).
  • Clamps … the vitality of clamps is hard to describe to someone who isn’t a wood-worker.
  • .. and a few specific tools I would need to bring all of this together.

I compiled a specific shopping list and cross-referenced numerous online sources in Europe until I was ready to make an order. I hesitated for quite some time … for two reasons:

  • I was about to spend ~1000 euros which is a big deal for me.
  • I was also still considering different approaches to making some of the jigs (tools I would need to create on my own) I would need; different approaches require different tools. I was in a cycle of researching, thinking and fine-tuning my shopping list … and it was changing almost daily. It took many weeks until the list finally settled down and I had a clear plan in my mind.

Finally, when I felt the list was solid enough (stopped changing), when I was able to breathe softness into my anxiety around money and when spring was nearing (it got warm enough to actually go to the workshop) I ordered the tools I would need.



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