Researchers Develop Free Software That Can Create Japanese Wood Joinery

Japanese wood joinery dates back to the seventh century and is a craftsmanship technique that involves complicated, interlocking wooden joints that form bonds without the use of nails, screws or adhesives. Practical use of these woodworking techniques, known as tsugite, has been dwindling over the years due to their complexity but a team of researchers from Tokyo University have created a software program that can generate these wooden joints, which can then be fabricated.

Tsugite is “an interactive system for designing and fabricating wood joints,” says the team of researchers from Tokyo University, who presented their software at a symposium late last year. The system allows users to create custom joints, or select from a series of ready-made joints. The interface gives real-time suggestions and feedback based on various metrics. Once the joint is finalized, the data can be used to fabricate the joints using a CNC milling machine.

You’ll need a bit of 3D modelling experience, as well as access to a milling machine but it sounds like this could be a great and practical way to incorporate this ancient art form into our daily lives with a computer-aided partnership. You can read more about the software here, as well as check out the instagram account, which has several examples of wood joints created using the software. It’s free for all personal and non-commercial use.


  1. Has anyone downloaded the s/w? I have and my effort has NOT been successful. Although the program/UI does seem to populate, it is brief, ~5 seconds and then the program closes. I’m not sure what the issue is, maybe missing a dependency? I am VERY intrigued by the s/w and the elegance of what it can produce, therefore want to use it, thoughts?

    • You got a bit further than I did; mine closed every time in a second or two. I’d love to try this too. Windows 10?

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