Book Review: Shoji and kumiko Design - Book 1 - The Basics

Shoji and Kumiko Design - Book 1: The Basics by Desmond King, is a deep dive into the use of traditional Japanese hand tools to construct traditional Shoji and Kumiko wood crafted screens and artwork. So traditional in fact, the author insists on using traditional language to describe tools and parts of construction. However this is only a small inconvenience considering there are plenty of diagrams, photos, and a glossary in the back of the book. You can tell this is a book written by an artisan who is clearly dedicated to their craft.

Although the book is only 173 Pages, it is quite thorough. Part one of the book concentrates on the anatomy of tools, the different types of planes used in construction and how to sharpen them, and tool overall maintenance and use. There's also quite a generous amount of information, graphical and otherwise, on setting up and adjusting a new plane. Most of the builds in this book are of Shoji. Kumiko designs begin showing up around page 117. Starting on page 142 the author instruct you in constructing a moderately complex kumiko design. I'm assuming that the second book in the series concentrates more on kumiko design then Shoji.

This book is an absolute winner for traditional woodworkers and hand tool woodcrafters. I would also recommend this book for anyone who is interested in design in general, but if you are a woodworker of any kind, this is a must-have for your bookshelf. It is clear Desmond is a dedicated craftsman and has put a lot of hard work into writing this book. I look forward to reading the second book in the series, and greatly hope Desmond is able to write the third.