Mr. Arimoto has a large job to deliver a few dozen rustic-looking tables and booths for a new restaurant somewhere out in the suburbs.
I have been helping out in the shop, mostly scraping, sanding, and finishing. Since I have lots of experience doing this kind of thing for fun, it’s good solid work. My days have been spent leaning over one table top at a time, chatting with Mr. Arimoto when noise allows. This does not leave much brain left at the end of the day for composing thoughtful blog posts.
On the other hand, it gives me lots of chances to look at interesting pieces of lumber he has around the shop. Look at this piece of walnut that actually has some walnut inclusions.
I spent some time yesterday and today helping Mr. Arimoto install a bannister and railing that he’d made for a client.
Tadao cut and shaped the pieces from walnut, and finished them with Osmo Polyx oil finish. We spent about ten hours total getting everything cut to fit, installed, and touched up.
He didn’t make the metal balustrade, so we had to adjust everything to fit somebody’s else’s work. It was a good exercise in the difference between theory and practice, or between design and execution.
Longtime fans of my work will remember that I have taken some woodworking classes with Tadao Arimoto, a Japanese-born woodworker who has a studio in the Northside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Every once in a while I will stop by his workshop to visit and get caught up, and sometimes when I am not working he will ask me to help out if he needs a couple of extra hands for something.
This past Monday, I helped him take apart a sushi bar that he built “years ago” for Sushi Kim down in the Strip district. I’ve eaten at Sushi Kim a few times in the past 30 years that I have been living here, and it’s a real shame to see it closing. Mr. Kim is going to open a smaller takeout place in North Oakland (314 North Craig Street), and he has sold the building to the Heinz History Center that is across the alleyway from the restaurant.
Anyway, these pieces were way too big for one person to move, and everything was held together by about a billion screws. Mr. Arimoto actually had two of us helping him, loading out all the trash, and moving the pieces of the sushi bar to his workshop where they will be reworked for the new place.
The bar itself, consisting of about 8 yards of 2-inch thick ash, is on the bottom of the pile there. It took us all day to get the bar pried out of place and moved to the workshop. This thing was solid enough to be used for 30 years, and then still strong enough that we could stand on it while taking some parts down from over the bar. It was a fun day, but I will admit that I sometimes have an odd sense of fun.