We have been busy this Fall building ‘Azumaya’–a Greene & Greene inspired pergola for the Japan House gardens at the University of Illinois  (Nick’s alma mater). Azumaya was designed in honor of, and in collaboration with Nick’s sensei, Shozo Sato. It was built here at Offerman Woodshop in Los Angeles, and shipped to Champaign Illinois where it was installed by Nick, Lee, some of Nick’s old theater friends from his college days, and an invaluable crew of local woodworkers from the CU woodshop.


Azumaya was built from reclaimed old-growth redwood timbers from McMullin Sawmill: this pile here is only a third of the total materials used.


Our first and most crucial task was to lay out our perfect hexagon–the basis for all our joinery.


It took a couple tries, and a lot of help from google sketchup, Lee’s dad (skyped in), and our multi-talented webmaster and resident geomotry wiz, RonJOn


Once the hex shape was determined, Michele and Matty laid out the oversized beams in order to transfer the joinery locations.


Michele is the brains…


… Matty is the brawn.


Cutting the beams to length,


the shoulders on the angled lap joints,


while Nick joyfully establishes the male tenon.


Meanwhile, in the other corner of our shared parking lot…
Thomas and Lee attempt to build a 35 foot compass to lay out the arc of the roof beams. It didn’t work very well, but Thomas’ awesome farmer’s tan made it well worth the effort.


Using a canoe strip as a batten to trace the arc onto a template proved to be much more accurate.


Success! Now all we have to do is cut various seemingly arbitrary compound angles on every curved and flat edge…


for which Thomas devises this ridiculous maneuver …


…resulting in this simple joint (the tip of the roof).


Time to lay out the beams to test our joinery and fit the roof.


It takes a little persuasion from the dead blow,


and encouragement from the ratchet straps…


Question: How many woodworkers does it take to assemble a 12′ hexagonal roof?
Answer: One Offerman, or 4 of these jokers.


To our great excitement, the six seams of the roof assembly hit the hexagon corners within a ‘bee’s dick’* of perfection!
*Ronny taught us this Australian term for the kind of tolerance we strive for here at OWS


Thats right.


While the rest of us do all the heavy lifting, Josh has been quietly building the seating for Azumaya: a redwood bench that sits in the center of the structure.  Here he routs out channels in the redwood root base to accept the oak support braces.


This redwood burl slab was attached to those supports–creating the bench seat.  Josh then finishes it with kick ass Boonville beer.


This slab is pretty much the dopest slice of delicious steak we have ever resisted eating.


Back in the brutal LA sunshine, Krys works on a nice mid-calf tan, while milling up all of the roofing planks.


After routing all the tongue and grooves, Matty cuts the planks oversized…


To be fit in place by these two hunks.


Thomas trims the roofing planks down at some other incomprehensible angle.


We leave some planks off so that the roof assembly can be hoisted up over the posts by forks and slings when it gets to Illinois.


These are the corbels, which, along with some curved braces,  will attach the posts to the beams.


Like so…


These are some pretty design details, so they require a ‘high art’ photo filter.


Nick is overcome with joy after fitting his ebony plugs


And, back to low art


Krys helps by drilling out the metal post anchors and by keeping the positivity high during the sleepless final hours.


This is how you ship a 3000 lbs, 12’x12’x12′ pergola across the country. (Daniel Wheeler on the toy fork lift).


It goes on the truck in Los Angeles…


…and comes off the truck 5 days later in snowy Champaign.


Shozo waits for us on the concrete pad he laid weeks before to be the floor of Azumaya.


First thing we do is lay out the hex, this time with glue in the joints. Nick’s technical theater hero, Ken Egan, attaches the slings so we can lift up the hex and attach the posts in place.


Then everyone grabs a post and does a little circle dance.


We got it where we want it, each post sits nicely inset on the concrete pad.


The roof gets unpacked and bolted back together. A job for the limberest of men.


Now its time to raise the roof.


What?! Ryan Schriefer and Nick  Jeurissen drive the forklift with mad skill.


Indar. It was together by lunch time. Which, by the way, was delicious, hot, home-made Japanese cuisine provided by the ever hospitable Japan House staff.


All of those compound angles paid off.


Ken, Lee, & Shozo triumphant.


Time to finish that roof.


Nick flies in just in time for shingling and varnishing.


Nick’s powers of levitation help him reach the fascia with ease.


Ken, Nick & Rob Ek discuss their exploits of the late 80’s while they work








and complete.