Traditional Japanese Architecture, Design & Woodworking


Building Procedures


Traditional timber frame buildings are built where structural and finish elements fit together using complex wooden joinery. About half of the work required to build a house occurs in our shop where the components are milled, laid out, cut out, finished, and wrapped. On site, these components are tightly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle with the precision one usually sees in well-made furniture, forming a building which should last for centuries. East Wind usually works with local contractors wherever we build, though we try to restrict our involvement to the elements of construction for which we are equipped and uniquely skilled. Site preparation, liaison with local building departments, concrete and foundations, some roofing, utilities, and other work that doesn't require our special equipment or skills is frequently better done by someone local to the area. We prepare critical path schedules to help us estimate cost. Daily, we use these schedules to help us organize our own work and to stay in touch with all contractors on the job to ensure that work proceeds efficiently. Using this process, even though we are in a remote location, we can build our houses anywhere in the world.


To make our houses available to clients with smaller budgets, we also design and build parts of houses. We can design houses to maximize the involvement of the local contractor. East Wind may supply either structural or finish elements which the local contractor can install. Drawings are adapted to conventional building procedures so a local conventional builder can execute more of the on-site construction work.

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Stairs to engawa type 3.

Living room past garden.

Eaves structure type 3.



East Wind's inventory includes about 2 to 300,000 board feet of extraordinary lumber which is cured for up to twenty years and never used until dry. We oversee the milling of logs purchased from loggers and millers up and down the West Coast. Fine woodworking requires the use of scrupulously cured materials. We commonly use Port Orford cedar (hinoki in Japanese), western red cedar, sugar pine and occasionally redwood for major structural and finish elements. In smaller quantities and for special elements we use cherry, camphor, California nutmeg, both Black and English walnut, American chestnut, myrtle, and other rare and commercially unavailable woods.

The Role of the Craftsman

We are craftsmen, not artists. Our role as craftsmen (and people) is to do what others want us to do. Usually prospective clients visit our shop, where they walk through a classical traditional house. Following the visit to our shop, we visit our clients at their building site so that our design can consider the natural features of the site. The design process now starts. Designing a house can take from six months to a year; we believe in giving the process enough time to develop naturally, with frequent communication between East Wind and the client. Once our designs are completed, we prepare an estimate, next a contract, and then work is scheduled.

If you are interested in our building something for you, please call us.

Soil plaster samples - mostly waterproof (please click on thumbnail for bigger photo):

Partially completed barn roof before copper.

Finish plane - note shaving.


Planes, adze and broad ax.

Hip roof from inside.

Under construction - still paper wrapped - gable detail.

Under construction - paper wrapped roof details.

Mud plastered roll up garage doors.

Partially complete barn roof.

Under construction - paper wrapped roof details.

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