A complex kumiko panel

Kumiko (Japanese: ) is a Japanese technique of assembling wooden pieces without the use of nails.[1]


Thinly slit wooden pieces are grooved, punched and mortised, and then fitted individually using a plane, saw, chisel and other tools to make fine adjustments. The technique was developed in Japan in the Asuka Era (600–700 AD).[2][1] Kumiko panels slot together and remain in place through pressure alone, and that pressure is achieved through meticulously calculating, cutting, and arranging interweaving joints. The end result is a complex pattern that is used primarily in the creation of shoji doors and screens.[3] Traditionally, the wood of choice was the hinoki cypress.[4]


Kumiko panels from c. 1921

The designs for kumiko pieces aren't chosen randomly. Many of the nearly 200 patterns used today have been around since the Edo era (1603–1868). Each design has a meaning or is mimicking a pattern in nature that is thought to be a good omen. The patterns are designed to look good, but also to distribute light and wind in a calming and beautiful way.[5]

Traditionally it is made with hand tools only, but in the western society they have made new techniques to make these kinds of patterns, it involves a table saw, a sharp chisel and some guides made by yourself, some can be made with plywood and some need to be made with hard or soft wood.

See also


  1. ^ a b "6 Things You Need to Know About Kumiko Woodworking". Japan Objects. Retrieved 2022-11-16.
  2. ^ "About Kumiko". Tanihata Co, Ltd. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  3. ^ "6 Things You Need to Know About Kumiko Woodworking". Japan Objects. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  4. ^ Francis, Scott; Woodworking, Popular (2017-05-15). Simple & Stylish Woodworking: 20 Projects for Your Home. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-4403-5169-3.
  5. ^ "THE ANCIENT ART OF KUMIKO – JAPANESE WOODWORK". The Goodlife Centre. 2019-01-30. Retrieved 2021-01-05.