Bundai - Japanese Writing table

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Project by madburg posted 08-26-2021 01:09 PM 587 views 2 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yes another Japanese project. Around halfway through making my Japanese Incense chest, check it out here I decided to make a full suite of Incense (Kodo) related woodwork items to go with it. The two main pieces were a writing table – Bundai, and a document box – Ryoshibako . Antique sets of these are seen for sale by Christies, and Bonhams at fabulous prices.

To ensure these additional pieces were an obvious set I used the same teak parquetry pattern, with walnut stringing, shell dots and a teak crossbanding boarder.

While the short legs may look odd, one must remember that Japanese people lived at floor level sitting on the floor rather than on chairs. Hence a writing table was for use while sitting on the floor.

Apart from the time consuming task of creating the teak parquetry the rest of the table was quite straight forward.
Several features of this Bundai are typical of the ones made continuously from the late 1600’s to late 1800’s.. This table top is veneered plywood, and the typical bracket legs are also teak veneered plywood. A couple of other features are typical of these antique writing tables. The ends of the table top have moulded raised strips, and there are brass etched reinforcing pieces on the corners and on these raised strips. The etched brass was sourced from Israel!

The construction was straight forward using dowels to join the legs and the raised end strips to the table top. Blind holes in the legs and sides of the table top, with through holes in the table top ends so that the dowels could go up into blind holes in the raised end strips. I used a simple dowel jig to ensure all the holes lined up.

As ever thanks for looking. If you missed the Incense chest that prompted me to make this table, then check it out here. I think you will enjoy it.

-- Madburg WA

13 comments so far

View WhattheChuck's profile


467 posts in 4803 days

#1 posted 08-26-2021 01:16 PM

Great and a great history lesson!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View mtnwild's profile


4458 posts in 4770 days

#2 posted 08-26-2021 02:42 PM

WOW, really beautiful, very interesting…Better than well done…

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View pottz's profile


20663 posts in 2227 days

#3 posted 08-26-2021 04:02 PM

your work is simple beyond words.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View therealSteveN's profile


8855 posts in 1817 days

#4 posted 08-26-2021 04:44 PM

Thanks for sharing, beautiful work.

-- Think safe, be safe

View MrWolfe's profile


1669 posts in 1366 days

#5 posted 08-26-2021 05:08 PM

Wonderful work as always.
Great project!

View 987Ron's profile


2187 posts in 559 days

#6 posted 08-26-2021 05:27 PM

As great as the pieces sitting on it. Wonderful workmanship.

-- Ron

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1133 posts in 3555 days

#7 posted 08-26-2021 07:57 PM

Another great piece of work. Great how it fits with the earlier items.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View bondogaposis's profile


6046 posts in 3594 days

#8 posted 08-26-2021 10:19 PM

Wow, that is just impressive. Beautiful work.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8423 posts in 1825 days

#9 posted 08-27-2021 02:31 AM

Wonderful writing table! The etched brass is beautiful. Care to share your source?

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1494 posts in 2535 days

#10 posted 08-27-2021 03:47 PM

Excellent work. The three pieces look great together as a set.

I will go to your blogs to see how you build these wonderful boxes and table.

Where did you get the veneer!

-- James E McIntyre

View oldnovice's profile


7753 posts in 4610 days

#11 posted 08-27-2021 09:39 PM

Excellent work, you are really a detail craftsman!

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View madburg's profile


348 posts in 2085 days

#12 posted 08-28-2021 12:30 AM

Thanks for the feedback everyone. For Dave – I found the etched brass on the Etsy website alchimiametalmagic
For James – sorry but I tend not to take many pictures while making things, so you’ll not find much about its construction. I was given the veneer by a Canadian craftsman who had lived in Western Australia for 30 years and decided to go back ‘home’ – he gave me a ute load of veneer after seeing some of my work. – he thought it would get well used!

-- Madburg WA

View AGolden's profile


140 posts in 577 days

#13 posted 08-30-2021 04:16 PM

this is excellent! I have been looking for some cool Japanese style projects to look at!

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