Osaka Senshu Paulownia Chests

Sometime during the 18th century, farmers started making boxes and other simple pieces of cabinetry during slack times of the year, using locally obtained paulownia (Paulownia Sieb. et Zucc.) and cork-tree (Phellodendron Rupr.). This ""cottage industry"" grew in stature by leaps and bounds after the middle of the 19th century and is still thriving.
The traditions of this craft are kept alive by making full use of the quarter-saw boards of the paulownia, which are pieced together using wooden pins and a variety of joints, and then the surfaces are polished and lightly colored.

Because the paulownia is air-dried and seasoned for one to two years prior to being made up, impurities tend not to appear on the surface. Solid boards of paulownia in excess of 20 mm thick are used, especially for the drawer fronts and doors. The wood for this is quarter-sawn in order to express the tightly packed grain of the wood and the finishing of these boards is particularly fine and demands a great deal of skill, the techniques of a piece of furniture that, if treated well, should last for a hundred years or more.


Since the pawlonia wood used for these cabinets has been allowed to dry naturally over a period of 1 to 2 years, the surface is completely free of impurities. The pawlonia wood used comes in the form of solid boards with a thickness of 20 mm or more. On the front, straight-grained boards with wood fibers running parallel to the longitudinal axis are given a beautiful appearance by means of to an advanced technique called "hagi processing."

How to make

All components to be used are classified according to their size and, after the pawlonia boards have been cut and their width adjusted, a decision is made on where each board should be used. “Hagi processing ” is a technique whereby pieces are joined aligning the grain to form one wide board. “Kumite” joining allows to assemble all parts by using wooden joints so that no nails are used. When coloring the products, a special coloring method is used so that no fingerprints or dirt will stick to the wood.