More a design than woodwork technique, “Kumiko” still warrants it’s own listing here as it’s requires a highly skilled practitioner and is a respected craft well over 1000 years old.
Mostly used for sliding doors, shoji screens and dividers, numerous, thin slit wooden pieces are intersected and laid down individually to form decorative designs with no nails or metal used. Based on a combination of horizontal and vertical lines, grids are fitted into frames. Skilled practitioners assemble the pieces to an accuracy of 0.1mm.
There are two broad types of Kumiko – Hishi Kumiko (diamond shape) and Koshi Kumiko (lattice).
The technique was developed hundreds of years ago in Japan (600-700 AD) but with changing lifestyles (and fewer Japanese-style rooms in houses), the number of practising crafts men and women is decreasing.
There are several hundred variations of Kumiko, each requiring the use of appropriate tools and patterns.